Most such sets of predictions (including mine) begin with statements of the bleeding obvious and end with some off-the-wall guesses, with the middle ground occupied by reasonable assumptions ranked by the order of importance and the likelihood that they will happen. Eddie Sheehy’s first point – that data created, sent and stored will continue to increase vastly – is an obvious but necessary preamble to the rest. All the rest are likely to happen, and Eddie Sheehy’s only problem must have in deciding what order to put them in.
Reduced to the fewest possible words, the predictions amount to this: that more and more data will move to the cloud, where new difficulties arise with search, and specifically eDiscovery search with its demands for both speed and accuracy; fewer and fewer providers of software and services will have the skills and the resources to manage this and the result will be yet further consolidation as bigger companies acquire smaller ones for their client base and their human skills; cyber security and privacy move up the agenda, relegating other issues which have seemed important in prior years.
Eddie Sheehy’s final point is that the skills, tools and processes needed for any one of these areas apply or are easily adapted to the others; law firms, providers and individuals with eDiscovery skills will find new demands for their products and services in an information governance field which is effectively unlimited in scope. Nuix was the first to enunciate this now obvious proposition in my hearing at their excellent event in Palm Beach a while back, and Drinker Biddle’s engagement of Jason Baron is the latest and most obvious manifestation of a trend which others will follow but will struggle to catch up with.
If asked to pick one point which stands out from Eddie Sheehy’s survey, I would settle for the development of managed services, enabling corporations to take more of the process in-house; they will do this as much as anything for security reasons as for reasons of cost, adapting the search and analytical technology of eDiscovery for corrective and defensive reasons. We will also see work going in the opposite direction as companies and law firms outsource work which they cannot do effectively or cost effectively in-house.
If I were to challenge any of the predictions, it would be the assumption that the shortlist of software providers will shrink to two or three during 2014. One of the most interesting developments in the past year has been the springing up of new and agile players whose propositions, and in particular pricing propositions, will nibble away at work which has been the preserve of bigger players. That is not to challenge the primary proposition that some names will disappear from the scene.