Business intelligence, or BI for short, has existed in various forms of corporate life over a number of years from marketing teams using information such as click-through rates to gauge the success or otherwise of campaigns, through to sales teams assessing the impact of individual people or promotions on takings. Essentially Business Intelligence refers to analysis of an organisation’s data to influence decision making so that the business can internally operate more efficiently and externally gain competitive advantage over business rivals.
As the volume of data in the workplace has grown exponentially so too has the importance of data analysis in driving business decisions. Today data is erupting from email accounts, smart phones, tablets, social communities, and search engines; it crosses borders, takes new forms, and is housed in virtual clouds. Each employee is likely to send and receive multiple e-mails per day. And each email is likely to cross the desktops of dozens if not hundreds of individuals. In this age of big data there are now tools, applications, and methodologies that are designed to help organisations collect information from both internal and external source, prepare it for analysis, and run queries against it in order to drive business decisions.
The legal sector has been slow to take advantage of business intelligence tools. Yet the capability to do this exists, particularly in the area of eDisclosure – a process in which electronically stored information (ESI) is sought, located, secured, and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in a civil or criminal legal case. When people talk about business insights in eDisclosure they usually refer to email threading or predictive coding and while these remain essential and important aspects they do not provide a comprehensive insight into all the available data across collections, processing, review and production. There are opportunities to go even deeper into data analysis.
Take for example a corporation using an in-house legal team or hiring a law firm to help with its litigation, and deploying the services of an external organisation to assist with the data and process management. Part of the disclosure process is to figure out how to limit the corporation’s data to certain people within particular periods of time so legal teams can look at those documents and decide if they are relevant or privileged, before being given to the other side. Currently each one of those projects is treated as a separate and distinct task, even though a corporation might be involved in very similar projects hundreds of times a year. There are often good reasons for this, including the fact that different people from the client organisation or law firm may work on particular cases, but the end result is that businesses are unable to identify any trends across cases or compare the services and efficiency of different providers.
If a business is sued 20 times a year around labour and employment issues, it will benefit from knowing what the wider trends are. It needs to know which organisations these claims regularly come from, how many people are typically involved and how many documents they typically have to give to the other side. The business might hire three different law firms to represent it across 20 different cases, so which one is the most efficient with that data? Which collects the least data and which has the highest responsiveness rate in terms of that data being relevant?”
Having the answers to these questions can help identify the most efficient and cost-effective law firms, as well as help organisations get a better idea of how much such cases should cost them, and identify any potential underlying issues in the business which could reduce the number of cases in the first place. An experienced third party service organization with world class software capabilities can give organisations the power to draw much greater insight, both within individual cases and more generally. This business intelligence driven approach of normalizing across cases equips organisations with the vital statistics they wouldn’t otherwise have. You can start with what you handed over to the other side and see trends within the case, backwards and forward, which is not usually possible. But the real potential is in picking up trends across cases so you can be more accurate with your budget and make strategic changes to be more efficient.
Currently, the legal sector is right at the beginning of deploying this innovation in eDisclosure but deployment will pick up pace once awareness of the potential of business intelligence in this field gets out. It takes a really specific series of skillsets to do this and you have to have a few pieces in place to properly solve this problem but forward thinking experts with a detailed understanding of injecting business intelligence are already at hand to assist organisations with this process.
In the long term, applying business intelligence in eDisclosure will become standard practice for legal teams, in the same way that business intelligence is used by other parts of organisations. No marketing person today would advertise for a campaign and not want to see A/B testing and click-through rates, or to create three different campaigns that are all radically different and not want to know which one is best. Business intelligence is a part of day to day life inside of corporations, and this will be the same for eDisclosure too.
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