Data is one of the most valuable assets of organisations today, with the potential to offer deep insights into opportunities and risks. However, the immense volume and diverse sources of data can also present challenges, particularly when it comes to investigations and litigation.
Having reliable and comprehensive data is essential to making legal investigations simpler and more effective. This requires a clear understanding of your data landscape, strong data governance across the organisation, and the right eDiscovery technology to deal with data at scale and speed.
Understand your data
To begin, it is essential to understand what data you have across the organisation. Data comes in forms that are structured and unstructured, with both types equally likely to be relevant in a legal situation.
Structured data is found in databases, delimited files and spreadsheets, and is often numeric. Unstructured data is largely text-based and appears in user-generated documents such as emails and social media commentary. It could also be images, sounds, video or scanned documents. Each type comes with its own challenges when it comes to data management.
CIO magazine reports that around 80 to 90 percent of all data generated today is ‘unstructured ’. This unstructured data can be more difficult to organise and analyse – particularly if multiple formats and languages are used at once.
Being aware of all the different types of data, where it is coming from, and how it is being managed can bring a significant legal advantage.
Govern your data
To ensure all data across the organisation is as reliable, comprehensive and accessible as possible to meet any legal needs, the whole organisation needs a sound data governance approach.
Having strong data governance means that when legal teams look for a specific piece of information amid millions of data points, it will be much faster to locate, contain less noise and reduce cost.
Data needs to be handled in a compliant way, with a particular focus on having and following a clear data retention and deletion schedule. In the event of a litigation issue, this could make a significant difference to outcomes. For example, if an organisation is only required to keep data for 7 years, but has failed to follow the deletion schedule, looking back over a longer period of time could add considerable unnecessary time, costs and effort . In contrast, a good adherence to the aforementioned policies can also make sure helpful evidence is captured, retained, and ready to be used when required.
To achieve good data governance across the organisation, key stakeholders will need to work together including leaders from legal, risk, IT and cybersecurity. The collaborative effort could lead to better legal outcomes, along with the further benefit that the business will be able to draw on data to make more informed everyday decisions, and ensure that any regulatory requirements around data are being met.
A further benefit of understanding of your data landscape and data governance is that you can get the most out of eDiscovery cloud-based software.
eDiscovery software draws on data from across the organisation, and can be tasked to undertake very specific searches to support a legal investigation or litigation. It can provide the most relevant data required for legal ‘review’ status, while showing up any gaps quickly and efficiently.
A key benefit of cloud-based eDiscovery software is that it can bring a level of security and privacy that can be greater than an on-premise legacy technology system – with security oversight from the provider and regular updates to help mitigate risks.
By understanding your data, building data governance across the organisation, and embracing eDiscovery solutions, your organisation will have a more reliable and comprehensive data set and the tools to take action quickly.
Do you have concerns about gaps in your current data governance? Is your data retention and deletion policy up to date and fully implemented and adopted? Are you spending too much on your eDiscovery? Stop losing money and contact us today.