Summer Doldrums? 18 Observations on Summer 2017 eDiscovery Business Confidence

The Business of eDiscovery in the Summer of 2017

Initiated in January of 2016, the eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is a non-scientific quarterly survey designed to provide insight into the business confidence level of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem. The survey consists of nine multiple choice questions focused on factors related to the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services. The survey is open to legal, business, and information technology professionals operating in the eDiscovery ecosystem and individuals are invited to participate via the ComplexDiscovery blog, via social media, and via direct email invitations. To date, the survey has been administered seven times since January 2016 with 742 individual responses.

The latest survey was administered in the Summer of 2017. Based on the latest survey viewed through the results of past surveys, the following key observations were noted:

Eighteen Survey Observations

Observations on Business Conditions (Charts 1-4)

Business Climate (Chart 1 and 2)

  • More than half of survey responders continued to view the current eDiscovery business conditions as good. This represents a positive quarter over quarter trend and is markedly higher than Summer 2016 survey results.
  • Responders who viewed the current eDiscovery business climate as normal continued to hover around the 40% mark with no appreciable change for the last three survey quarters.
  • Only 5% of survey responders felt that the current eDiscovery business climate was bad. This rating is the lowest since the Spring of 2016 survey and highlights that 95% of responders ranked current conditions positively (good or normal).
  • Responders who feel that business conditions will be better in six months dropped quarter over quarter and was similar to responses from the Summer of 2016.
  • Those who feel that the business climate will be the same in six months as today remained approximately the same as in the Spring of 2017, yet considerably lower than the high water mark of all surveys in the Winter of 2017 when 56% felt conditions would remain the same.
  • Those expecting the business climate of eDiscovery to be worse in six months than today increased quarter over quarter and reached its highest level since the inception of the survey. However, even at its highest level, it still consists of only approximately 7% of responders expressing this sentiment.

Revenue Expectations (Chart 3)

  • In the Summer of 2017, approximately 50% of survey responders feel that revenue in the next six months will be higher than today. This percentage is a significant quarter over quarter drop, yet slightly higher than responder views last summer.
  • At its highest rate since the beginning of the survey in the Winter of 2016, more than 40% of responders feel that revenue will remain the same over the next six months. This represents a definite change of view from responses shared in the Spring of 2017 where only 34% expressed a view that revenue in six months would remain the same.
  • The percentage of responders who feel that revenue in six months will be lower than today dropped for the second straight quarter and is also lower than responder feelings in the Summer of 2016 survey.

Profit Expectations (Chart 4)

  • Only 39% of responders in the Summer of 2017 feel that profits will be higher in six months than they are today. This change is a noticeable drop from the Spring 2017 survey where confidence in profits in six months was the highest (50%) since the initiation of the survey.
  • Responders feeling that revenue will be the same in six months as today increased strongly quarter over quarter to the highest levels since the Summer of 2016.
  • The percentage of responders who feel profits in six months will be lower than today increased quarter over quarter to approximately 11% of survey participants. However, this concern is lower than results in the Summer of 2016.

Observations on Business Impact Factors (Chart 5)

  • While at its lowest impact point since the inception of the survey, Budgetary Contraints continue to be a primary eDiscovery business concern for approximately 1/5 of survey responders.
  • Data Security concerns decreased quarter over quarter but still remain higher than the survey low of 7.1% responders rating it as their primary eDiscovery business concern in the Summer of 2016.
  • The impact of Inadequate Technology on eDiscovery business jumped to its highest rate since last summer and the second highest rate since the inception of the survey.
  • The business impact of Increasing Types of Data reached its highest point since the beginning of the survey and was ranked as the top business concern of all responders in the Summer 2017 survey.
  • After peaking in the Fall of 2016 as a business concern, the impact of Increasing Volumes of Data on eDiscovery business continued a quarter over quarter decrease. However, it still has remained a primary business concern for approximately 20% or more of survey responders since the beginning of the survey.
  • The Lack of Personnel as a major impact factor for eDiscovery business decreased from its high point in the Spring of 2017 to a rate of just below 15% in the Summer of 2017.

Survey Charts

(Charts Can Be Expanded for Detailed Viewing)

Chart 1: How would you rate the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in your segment?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

Chart 1 – Current Business Conditions – Summer 2017

Chart 2: How do you think the business conditions will be in your segment six months from now?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

Chart 2 – Business Conditions + 6 Months – Summer 2017

Chart 3: How would you guess revenue in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now? Revenue is income generated from eDiscovery-related business activities.

Chart 3 – Revenue Expectations – Summer 2017

Chart 4: How would you guess profits in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now? Profit is the amount of income remaining after accounting for all expenses, debts, additional revenue streams, and operating costs.

Chart 4 – Profit Expectations – Summer 2017

Chart 5: An Aggregate Overview of Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance Challenges that may directly impact the business performance of your organization.

Chart 5 – Business Impact – Summer 2017

Chart 6: Survey Participant Overview

Survey Responder Overview
 


eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey Meta Results

Provided for download from the following link is a high-level spreadsheet highlighting all survey responses since the initiation of the survey in January of 2016.

Download the Meta Results Excel Spreadsheet

Past Survey Results

Source: Original Research

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