An article by David Turner, a Senior Managing Director in FTI’s Consulting’s Data and Analytics practice, summarises the things organisations ought to have in mind when preserving structured data for potential production in future litigation or investigations.
Called Structured data: issues and best practices, the paper first asks why structured data is important. In many organisations, particularly financial organisations, 70% of the information sits in a database of some kind, as opposed to the (no less important) unstructured data such as emails, word-processing or spreadsheet files and the like. The latter may tell you what people were discussing and who they were communicating with; the structured data often includes the transaction information which shows the effect of those communications.
If the allegation is that employees or others manipulated prices, then it is necessary to be able to retrieve and analyse what those prices were at any given time. This can be no small undertaking.
Mere preservation is not enough, not least because the accumulation of vast databases has storage implications which can be expensive. The organisation, its lawyers and its service providers need to be able to identify the data, to transfer it, to determine its scope and, where appropriate, to delete duplicated or unwanted data.
In addition to dealing with preservation, the paper sets out some best practices for structured production, and refers to the technology, not least visualisation technology, which helps to understand and explain what data exists and what its significance is.