Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gartner Releases 2012 “Magic Quadrant for E-Discovery Software”

Gartner recently released its now yearly report “Magic Quadrant for E-Discovery Software.”  The report analyzes the biggest names in the eDiscovery software field and categorizes them into one of four groups: Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, or Niche players.  The report focuses heavily on consolidation within the industry as well as the EDRM lifecycle, placing a high value on companies and software that service the entire EDRM lifecycle.

The writers designated six companies as leaders:

- AccessData
- Autonomy
      - Guidance Software
      - Recommind
      - Symantec (Includes Clearwell)
      - ZyLAB

To be leader the company had to offer functionality that covers the complete EDRM lifecycle.  Additionally, offering predictive coding technology was an important positive factor in this analysis.

Some changes from the 2011 report include the exclusion of Epiq and IPRO because they no longer met at least one criteria for inclusion in the Magic Quadrant, the inclusion of KPMG and UBIC in the Magic Quadrant, and the change in status for FTI and kCura from leaders to challengers. 

kCura and FTI were no longer considered leaders because both focus on the right hand side of the EDRM only, rather than focusing on the complete model.  This fact emphasizes how much weight the Gartner writers placed on servicing the EDRM lifecycle.  To be clear, the report noted that kCura’s Relativity product is still a best in class product.  It also spoke very highly of FTI noting “[t]he company performs well all over the world, whereas others in its class do not necessarily have the presence or ‘bench strength’ to cover the globe, which is what many corporations need.”  Nevertheless, it likewise noted that many vendors are responding to the market with “broader end-to-end” functionality.

I agree with the report that the industry is moving toward greater consolidation and products that do it all, and I have written about that movement on this blog (http://ediscoverynewssource.blogspot.com/2012/04/consolidation-of-services-and.html )  However, I believe that Gartner placed too much emphasis on this factor by making it a requirement to be a leader in the Magic Quadrant.  Certainly, one-stop products and companies that do it all offer convenience, and perhaps cost savings, and can absolutely be the best choice for you and your companies.  Likewise, I continue to think that more and more products will move in that direction.  However, at this point in time, choosing a product that does it all means sacrificing quality and functionality for convenience; products and companies that service the entire EDRM lifecycle may be competent at each area, but they are not going to be the best at each area.  Depending on your situation, choosing multiple products that are the best product available for each task may be a better option.  You should ask yourself, do you want one product that does everything, but only one of those things really well, or do you want three or four products that are all the best at what they do?  There is no one answer, but it is something to consider, and this will remain a choice you have to make until there is one product that is the best at everything, which could take a while.

Although the Gartner report is subjective and by no means does it analyze every product or company in the industry, overall, the creators did a good job and the report provides some interesting information and analysis.  The report concludes that the eDiscovery software industry will remain relevant while becoming more competitive, and that consolidation and the proliferation of one-stop shops and products will continue.  This prediction is spot on.

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