The single most important industry event I have yet attended; densely packed with immediately useable approaches, methodologies and best practices; staffed by passionate and supremely experienced SMEs – both within and extraneous to the discipline – providing a 360-degree view of the imminent CIGO revolution; overall a grand slam. A definite repeat for next year!
Richard Kessler, Head of Group Information Governance, UBS AG
Most organizations like the Information Governance Initiative do not publicly share the results of post-event surveys, but I work hard to be different and transparent. So, in that spirit, I am going to share results of the May 2015 CIGO Summit participant survey that just came in.
Overall, I’m really happy to see that in almost every metric we exceeded our goals. In one area we could have done better, but I knew that would be the case going in and will explain why. If you missed the CIGO Summit, check out this excellent write-up on the event.
Overall Event Satisfaction
So honored to be a part of such a diverse group of IG experts. The ability to collaborate and discuss directly with your speakers is invaluable! Leave it to the IGI to start the trend away from the power point/listen/5-minute Q&A all are accustomed to. Exactly what separates IGI/Barclay and the Gang from the impersonators. (Ok – might need to not be so harsh – I’ve been drinking)
Nearly all participants said they were very satisfied (71%) or satisfied (20%) with the event, proving that our commitment first and foremost to events that provide value to the participants is paying off. As insiders, we have seen with our own eyes that most industry events are actually designed almost exclusively for the sponsors. I believe that this serves neither the sponsors nor the participants. It is a difficult balance to strike, and it is much more work to put the participants first. For the CIGO Summit, we undertook a “by invitation only” model, which meant that I personally invited or approved each and every participant in the room. Believe me, this process is not fun and I had many painful conversations with excellent consultants and experts (personal friends in many cases) as to why they could not attend. Why? Because I wanted to make sure that the room was filled with senior, working IG practitioners. The providers in the room were a select number of excellent subject matter experts from IGI supporters who had funded the event itself. Quite frankly, without those supporters, this event would not have happened. We simply cannot charge attendees enough to cover the costs, much less pay ourselves (see below for more details).
This process was the right process for this event, given its focus and goals. It is not the right, or even necessary, process for other events that we do. For example, our next big event, InfoGovCon15 is inexpensive ($400 or less for 2.5 days), democratic (with session voting), and open to all.
As good as these results were, I have to say it still bothers me personally that 1 person (the 3.2% below) said that they were “very dissatisfied” with the event. Why? What did we do wrong? Were you at the wrong event? If you are reading, please contact me and let me know.
Why Did People Come to the Event?
It is so important, as we all march down this new road, that we learn from each other and exchange lessons learned. I love that this forum gave me a chance to meet my peers and be educated!
Nearly 100% of participants said that the reason they attended was to “learn what others are doing to advance information governance at their organizations.” It is very rewarding to see this result because so much of what we do at the IGI is focused on connecting our members to other members. You consistently tell us things like, “please just help us understand what other organizations are doing,” a request we have worked to fulfill in multiple ways, including our Annual Report, our online community of thousands of IG practitioners, our IG Boot Camps, our soon-to-be-published Benchmarking Report, and events like CIGO Summit and InfoGovCon. The next most common answer was “to network,” a very closely related concept.
How We Did on the Details
What a great and diverse group of colleagues. The event allowed us to share our IG stories. It is so helpful knowing I’m not alone in my IG pain.
Sharon Keck, Polsinelli, PC
Events live or die based on the details, and I was happy that each aspect of our conference from the smallest detail to the highest-level theme was highly rated. (i.e., in each case, higher than 4 out of 5). For example, participants rated the speakers at 4.45, the registration process 4.6, and the individual interaction at 4.26.
Information is not an IT problem, but a business problem. The CIGO Summit provided the perfect vehicle for developing a corporate cross-functional information strategy (Marketing, E-Discovery, Compliance, IR, Business Practices investigations, etc.) that balances organizational legal and technical challenges while maintaining business critical information in a consistent and defensible manner in order to deliver critical elements to support sustainable growth. I highly recommend it to those that wish to align themselves with thought leaders in the space. Get out in front of the information conundrum (volume rich, knowledge poor) and become an advocate for change.
Tim Kaufman, UTC
Our speakers, who we chose very careful and curated to fit into the overall theme and goal of the event, were also rated very highly, with each speaker receiving a rating over 4 out of 5. A certain senior level IGI official, who hosted and facilitated the event, received the highest speaker rating (but please don’t tell him that as he is already almost unbearable).
Unlike most industry events, we folded paid, professional speakers into the program because we wanted to expose our participants to fresh, expert viewpoints that would help them grow as IG leaders. Those speakers were also rated highly (4.43 and 4.11). We also put our sponsor speakers through the wringer, asking them to encapsulate their most important messages into a 6 minute and 40 second presentation comprised of 20 slides that auto-advance every 20 seconds. Each one of our sponsor speakers (Sue Trombley, Rob Hamilton, Julie Colgan, and Trent Livingston) rose to the challenge and did a magnificent job under pressure in providing useful, targeted information for this audience, and they were highly rated as well (an average rating of 4 out of 5).
What Did Participants Like Most About the Event?
Participating in the CIGO Summit was a unique opportunity to engage with many of IG’s leading professionals. The thorough and fast-paced agenda exceeded my expectations, both from a content perspective and as a venue for the frank exchange of ideas.
Here’s what participants told us they liked most about the event:
- Seniority of delegates.
- Event size and very interactive.
- So many senior IG people in one place- there is power in numbers and an agreement on how to move forward.
- Impactful agenda. Powerful interaction. Brilliantly executed.
- The interaction with brilliant IG visionaries and practitioners.
- The care with which it was designed.
- Being able to interact with so much talent and experience.
- Being involved with people promoting an emerging field
- The professionalism with which polarized opinions could be discussed
- Incredible gathering of IG thought leaders. Great speakers, great activities.
- I learned a lot, got inspired, and met lots of smart people.
- Practical insight from practitioners, war stories, gathered a really high-quality group
- I liked the mix of people who attended and the content was excellent.
- The constant collaboration and not just a PowerPoint and a person – it was like having a conversation with your speaker.
What Did Participants Like Least About the Event?
When designing this event, I had a pretty good idea what the answer to this question would be:
- Compressed timeframe.
- I actually would have liked it to be longer.
- Intense day – very packed.
- Not enough time for topic.
- Not enough time!
- Time crunch.
- Very long intense day. Might be better over 1 1/2 days.
- Went too fast.
- That it only lasted a day.
I literally cannot think of the last time I went to an event and left thinking that it was too short. If we had to fail in some way, I’m happy to fail in this way. I absolutely acknowledge that that we tried to do too much in one day. But, we had committed to a one-day event (somewhat arbitrarily I suppose, based on the assumption that it would be easier to pull off, which now I realize is not true) a long time ago, and needed to stick with it.
So, I aggressively cut and cut until I arrived at what I though needed to be the minimum topics we needed to cover. I knew it would be intense. I knew it would be too much. But I was more comfortable making a mistake in that direction than the other, which I could not bear: i.e., empty, fluffy, retread content full of the same old platitudes squeezed between hour-long “networking breaks.”
Let’s talk about some of the other things that people did not like:
- “Having vendors there.”
The market simply does not enable us to host an event like this, with people of this level of seniority, in an accessible major city, with the expected level of fit and finish, without sponsors. Without sponsors, the ticket price of this event just to allow us to break even on the hard costs would have been over $2500, which seems like a lot for a one-day event that does not result in some kind of certification or specific set of marketable skills, or at least promise to change your life forever. If we actually wanted to make money, and cover the thousands of hours of planning and execution time an event like this takes, we would have to charge much more.
Or, we can ask for the support of the providers in our IGI community, which we did. But, we did it in a very considered way. Our sponsors were allowed to send 1 or 2 people (depending on sponsor level) to the event, and not sales and marketing people. They needed to be senior IG subject matter experts who could contribute to the discussion. And that is what we did – we had several of the most recognized provider SMEs in the room who added great value to the discussion.
Also, there is a very clear and obvious reason to “have vendors in the room.” Quite simply, the problem of IG cannot be solved without technology. In my view, information about what technology is available and what it can to is just as valuable as information about experiences, successes, techniques, and tips. At the IGI our mission it to promote IG as far and wide as we can, and that includes promoting awareness of what is possible with technology currently available on the market.
Now the obvious question: why don’t we just do the event at a less expensive location, and let participants pay a lower rate, but one that would cover both the hard and soft costs? Well, if anyone has any ideas on how we attract and satisfy a room of CxO, SVP, VP, and Director-level attendees who already have too much on their plates to an event, venue and location that costs less than half of what a typical venue costs, please call me immediately at 646 450 4468. That being said, the hotel conference business is not a pleasant one, and we are looking at alternative venues and approaches that can both reduce costs and increase attendee value.
Would People Attend Again?
Hard numbers and soft skills: Great case studies, roadmaps and networking toward elevating the information governance stewardship. Thank you.
84% of people who attended said it was very likely (52%) or likely (32%) that they would attend this event again next year. We will do this event again, and evolve it each time, many more times. The focus of this first event was to introduce the concept of the CIGO, and to build a Playbook that aspiring CIGOs and other in that ecosystem could use to explain the role and help build the case for it (look for the first edition of the Playbook in July). We will continue to provide education, networking, and community around the topic of IG leadership. We got the ball rolling with this event and will continue as a core part of our mission.
Thank you to everyone who attended and to everyone who made this event a success. If you want to participate in or support our next CIGO Summit, please let me know.
Here’s the Christmas Story That The North Pole Does Not Want You to Read!
No Reason to Rejoice – Information Governance Scrooge Ups Widely Believed to Freeze North Pole Operations
A North Pole Business Insider Exclusive
the npbi snapshot™
- Christmas 2014 cancelled
- Big Data & information governance woes to blame
- Belief in Santa at all-time low
- Avalanche of mismanaged data reported
- Key accounts frozen by hacking attacks at critical manufacturing facilities
- Elvin workforce in open revolt
North Pole Business Insider has exclusively learned that United Christmas Consolidated Corporation (UCCC) has scheduled an emergency press conference for December 24th where it is expected to announce that Christmas 2014 is cancelled.
The shocking announcement is expected to receive a frosty reception from families and retailers alike, although some harried shoppers we spoke to this morning reported experiencing an astonishing sense of relief and deep well-being upon hearing the news.
According to internal documents obtained by NPBI, the cancellation is a result of “wholesale failure of manufacturing and logistics systems as a result of unforeseen exigencies in our Big Data 2020 program.”
Our attempts to speak directly with beleaguered UCCC CEO, Santa, have been unsuccessful.
However, company insiders have revealed exclusively to NPBI that their efforts to become a “data-driven” institution have largely failed, bringing Christmas 2014 to an unceremonious end.
Rumors of large-scale hacking attacks in the company’s frozen data lake have also plagued the company. Executives from The Halloween Industrial Concern, Valentines Conglomerated, Thanksgiving Partners LLC, and other proto-nation-states have been angered by the continuing encroachment of UCCC. In particular, The Halloween Industrial Concern vehemently protested the upcoming distribution by UCCC of a gift depicting a pumpkin head exploding.
It is widely suspected that UCCC email messages recently provided to the media were stolen by disgruntled Christmas crackers working for Halloween. These communications shockingly revealed UCCC executives to be completely normal and flawed people rather than the fictional heroes portrayed by the toys the company manufactures and distributes.
As widely suspected by parents worldwide, internal company documents provided to NPBI reveal that the failed 2013 big data and information governance program resulted in bad children receiving 10,000 Instagram followers and a YouTube production deal, and good children receiving coal. As previously reported – exclusively by NPBI – both the coal lobby and environmental groups have surprisingly found common cause in battling the coal program, which UCCC continued to defend on the basis of “tradition and nostalgia for a time that never really existed.”
This has been a troubled year for the company, with global turmoil arising from its “Disruptortation” division that uses a network of mobile device-enabled contract delivery drivers to replace incumbent government-supported systems. As we reported in October, a senior manager of the Disruptortation division threatened to permanently put one of our reporters who has been fiercely critical of the company on the permanent naughty list. The reporter and her family have been forced to move every few days, to ensure that UCCC will not be able to track her and deliver the rancid egg nog and fetid mincemeat pies that those on the list famously receive.
In a recent AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, an anonymous member of the UCCC logistics team fought back against accusations that “these supposed IG failures” were in fact a ploy to “extort the world” by “holding the holidays hostage” in hopes of influencing ongoing wage negotiations. The Elvin manager also fielded several questions regarding her stature, skin color, mating habits, and views on the people who were “truly behind” a decade-old terrorist attack on one of the North Pole’s most famous manufacturing towers. A coordinated group of commenters frequently disrupted the AMA by claiming that female elves should not be in the game and toy manufacturing business at all.
Insiders tell NPBI that the company’s information governance program has been chilled by executive jockeying and political resistance. Santa himself has been described as outwardly supportive but bureaucratically resistant, ensuring that the program moves at a glacial pace. Insiders say dreams of “big data sugar plums” have been iced by “almost complete ignorance” of legal, compliance and risk issues, immature corporate governance programs, and outdated technologies.
Reached for comment, Eöl the 117th, Chief Data Officer at UCCC, said, “Big Data allows us to move past the dark days of gut-based decision making and into the era of clear-eyed, data-driven rationality.” When pressed on how he decides which data to include in UCCC’s analytics programs or how he determines that its algorithmic outputs are reliable, Mr. Eöl responded, “Intuition and years of experience.”
In addition, the company’s ill-fated Christmas 2013 initiative to install self-destructing RFID sensors in every gift delivered worldwide resulted in an avalanche of contradictory and confusing data that the firm was ill prepared to tackle. Insiders say that it was never clear if the company had the legal right to collect the data and to transfer it to the North Pole – a legal jurisdiction that does not align with tougher privacy protections found in many jurisdictions, including the European Union.
Critics of the program pointed out that it was also unclear what the company intended to do with the data.
Company spokesman Aegnor, son of Finarfin, claims such data is only used to “to serve our community better, by bringing joy and love to the world.”
Critics do not mince words about UCCC’s well-known motto, “We Put Evil on a Toboggan and Push it to the South Pole,” dismissing the claim as a hoary chestnut.
While UCCC will not confirm reports of a full-scale elf rebellion and attempted coup d’état, Mr. Aegnor did allow that workforce productivity been negatively affected by the company’s efforts to transform itself.
Several of UCCC’s contract workers have been injured in ongoing civil strife over the future of its data center operations. Older manufacturing workers in the Western sector, rallying behind their apparent leader, See Eye Oh, are fiercely opposed to moving core systems to the cloud. The Eastern sector, populated by a younger and more hirsute demographic and dominated by artisanal egg nog shops and Whitmanesque locavore hotspots serving grass-fed reindeer and organic heirloom lingonberries, favors a transition to systems focused on mobility, access, and collaboration.
Mediators from UCCC’s legal department have held high-level talks between the two factions with little progress.
@2014 North Pole Business Insider, not a real thing and certainly not a division of Barclay T. Blair LLC.
Three years ago, I sat down in a conference room in Washington, D.C with some really smart people and we quickly realized that we shared a vision for a consortium and think tank devoted to advancing Information Governance. Each of us had seen the incredible value that better information governance could create for their respective clients, but had also witnessed the consequences of information failure first-hand. Without a way for IG practitioners to share their experience across disciplines, it seemed unlikely that the promise of information governance would be fulfilled. Today, thanks to the support of like-minded individuals and organizations, this vision has been realized.
I am so pleased to announce the launch of the Information Governance Initiative (IGI), a cross-disciplinary consortium and think tank focused on advancing information governance. The IGI will publish research, benchmarking surveys, and guidance for practitioners on its website at www.IGInitiative.com. The research will be freely available, and the group will also be providing an online community designed to foster discussion and networking among practitioners.
I am founder and executive director, and it would be great if you would join us.
I believe information can be a positive transformative force in the world – improving business, government, and the lives of people in all walks of life. But I also believe that these benefits are not automatic, and in fact will only be the result of sustained, proactive efforts to understand and manage information in a better way. I believe that there is a need for like-minded people to come together and find this better way. A forum for ideas, facts, and techniques. An initiative that pushes the market forward and builds information literacy.
That’s why we created the Information Governance Initiative – and why we want you to be a part of it.
Who We Are
The IGI Advisory Board is comprised of members drawn from the disciplines that own the facets of information governance including information security, data science and analytics, e-discovery, business management, IT management, compliance, business intelligence, records management, finance and audit, privacy, and risk management. We are also developing a Corporate Council comprised of practitioners working in IG. Contact us if you are interested in participating in the Corporate Council.
At launch, IGI Advisory Board members include Courtney Ingraffia Barton, senior counsel, global privacy at Hilton Worldwide, Inc.; Julie Colgan, president of ARMA International; Leigh Isaacs, VP of the information governance Peer Group at ILTA; and Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT-Harvest and well-known cybersecurity expert. Additional board members are being added on an ongoing basis.
The IGI is launching with broad support from leading providers of information governance products and services, including:
We are also partnering with a variety of organizations to bring IG stakeholders from different disciplines together to work on the information governance problem. For example, we have partnered with The CFO Alliance, a community of over 4,000 senior finance professionals, to bring the IG conversation to the finance community. ARMA International has appointed a representative to the IGI Advisory Board, and the two organizations plan on working together to advance the adoption of information governance. In addition, the IGI will be presenting several sessions on information governance at the Managing Electronic Records conference in Chicago, May 19-21, 2014.
Get Involved in the IGI
Members of the leadership team are speaking about information governance at nine different sessions during the LegalTech NY 2014 conference between February 4-6th. If you are there, come see us and also visit our Charter Supporters in the exhibit halls.
Learn how you can get involved in the IGI at, www.IGInitiative.com
I also invite organizations interested in supporting the advancement of Information Governance to contact me at 646 450 4468 or barclay.blair@IGIniative.com.
We have worked with the eDJ Group in the past to survey the market about Information Governance attitudes and practices, and I am pleased be working together on a new survey. This time we have an additional partner – ARMA International – which is excellent.
Our new survey asks some of the same questions we asked previously so that we can track year-over-year changes, but we are also digging into some new areas like big data and predictive coding. Please take a moment to complete the survey. We will be releasing the results publicly, and this kind of data is good for all of us as we try to move the information governance ball down the field (unlike the NY Giants this year – what the heck?).
Check out the results of our previous surveys to get a flavor of the kind of insight that we expect to get from the survey.
On June 6, 2013, the US National Archives and Records Administration published a call for comments on its draft Bulletin regarding a proposed “Capstone” approach to email retention at federal agencies. NARA was having technical problems with its comment system when I tried to submit my comments, so based on their instructions I have submitted my comments to them directly by email, and I am also posting them here.
You can find the request for comment and the draft Bulletin on NARA’s website.
Feedback on NARA’s Capstone Email Records Management Bulletin
As requested, I am providing comments on the “Capstone” approach to email management outlined in the June 6, 2013 draft NARA Bulletin provided above. Thank-you for the opportunity to provide input on this important issue.
I am the founder and principal of an information governance consulting firm based in New York. Since 2001 I have advised many organizations and government agencies on the development and implementation of email retention strategies.
Based on my experience and research, I believe that most organizations currently fall into one of two email records management camps.
The first camp does very little. While they may impose mailbox size limitations, they provide sparse guidance to employees who are forced to delete messages to meet these quotas. Consequently, business records are likely lost – especially if no storage space is allocated for retention of records that simply happen to reside in the email system. Others allow – or turn a blind eye to – the practice of employees exporting email messages out of the corporate email system so they can be tucked away in shared drives, thumb drives, or taken home for “safekeeping.” This practice results in an effective loss of management control over records found in the email system, and can greatly increase collection costs and increase spoliation risk in e-discovery.
The second camp “manages” email, but treats all email messages equally, regardless of their content. Some – seeking to minimize the cost and potential risk of email – automatically purge all email older than 30, 60, or 90 days. In the absence of a method to capture email messages containing record content, records are surely lost – violating laws that require retention of specified records, regardless of their form. Others – perhaps inspired by SEC Rules 17a-3 and 17a-4 and the email archiving software industry that those Rules singlehandedly created – capture a copy of all messages sent and received and keep them in a separate archive for a fixed period of time. This approach ignores the reality that such an archive will undoubtedly contain both trivial content and critical business records. From a compliance perspective, this may be just fine if you are a broker-dealer subject to these unique, email-specific Rules, but is less fine if you are, like most of the business world, subject to retention rules that do not exempt or treat email in special way, but rather require identification and retention of business records regardless of the form they take.
There are of course other approaches to email retention, one of which is outlined in your draft Bulletin. As I understand it, Capstone is a role-based method that uses the role of the email creator/recipient as a predictor of the content of that user’s account. In the past I have advocated such an approach to clients as a pragmatic method for improving otherwise nascent email records management practices.
NARA should certainly be commended for embracing such pragmatism, and in recognizing that complex user classification systems are often impractical and lightly adopted.
However, I would like to share two additional ideas that may be helpful as NARA finalizes its guidance.
First, while a knowledge worker’s role can certainly be a predictor of an email message’s content, our research has shown us the limits of this approach. We have assessed role-based approaches at client organizations by analyzing actual email accounts sampled from a range of user roles. We have then estimated the percentage of email content that would require retention under the client’s own retention rules. Across a range of users we have found as little as 5% and as much as 95% record content. There is certainly some correlation between the percentage of record content and the role of the user, but it is not always categorical. For example, some users are mostly information processors, and thus may have an extremely high percentage of email records in their inboxes.
Consider for example, a claims processor who receives a partially completed claims form attached to an email message, opens that form and completes it using information they possess, and than sends the completed form to an employee who represents the next link in the processing chain. This scenario is very common, even in large organizations. Assuming that these completed claim forms are records, and that they are not otherwise captured in a content management system, this user’s email account is quite important from a records management perspective.
However, a Capstone system based solely on seniority (i.e., “officials at or near the top of an agency,” as described in the Bulletin) may miss this important account and result in such records disappearing as “temporary” records. Conversely, senior officials may have a relatively low percentage of record content in their email system when they use other systems to communicate their decisions, document those decisions formally, or otherwise use other official or formal systems to complete their work. Capture and permanent retention of their entire account then, would result in retention of largely trivial content.
These issues can in part be addressed by careful examination of the way email is used by each agency and its users, as mentioned in the Bulletin.
Second, I wonder if NARA is turning away from a content-based approach to record identification and retention too soon – in fact, act just at the time in history when technology to enable semi-automated, content-based approaches is becoming widely available. Our clients are currently evaluating and implementing technology from OpenText and Recommind (there are other providers in the market as well) that marries human and machine intelligence to remove the classification burden from the user. Such systems are by no means trivial to implement and configure, but I believe that they point the way forward for email records management. The effectiveness of automated statistical methods for content classification has been demonstrated effectively in the intensely observed world of US civil litigation; a demonstration that I believe provides a foundation for it application to the records management problem.
Further, while the Capstone method would seem – as noted in your Memo – to foster compliance with the “OMB/NARA M-12-18 Managing Government Records Directive” requirement to “manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format,” I wonder to what extent it addresses the spirit of Section A3 of the Directive to “investigate and stimulate applied research in automated technology to reduce the burden of records management responsibilities?”
Once again, thank-you for the opportunity to provide feedback on this important Bulletin, and I am confident that NARA will continue to provide leadership as federal agencies continue this critical transition.
Last week I attended a “Predictive Coding Boot Camp” produced by the E-Discovery Journal and presented by Karl Schieneman of Review Less and Barry Murphy. I’ve participated in many workshops, seminars, discussions, and webinars on the topic, but this half-day seminar went the deepest of any of them into the legal, technology, and case strategy implications of using technology to minimize the cost of human document review in e-discovery. It was a solid event.
(But, I wasn’t there to learn about e-discovery. I’ll tell you why I was there in a moment.)
You see how I snuck in an implied definition above? Because, whatever you call it – predictive coding, technology-assisted review, computer-assisted review, or magic – isn’t that the problem that we are trying to solve? To defensibly reduce the number of documents that a human needs to review during e-discovery? There are a number of way to get there using technology, but the goal is the same.
What does e-discovery have to do with IG?
To review, in civil litigation, both sides have an obligation to produce information to the other side that is potentially relevant to the lawsuit. In the old days, this was a mostly a printing, photocopying, and shipping problem. Today it is primarily a volume, complexity, and cost problem. Although discovery of physical evidence and paper records is obviously still part of the process, electronic evidence naturally dominates.
So, how does a litigant determine whether a given document is potentially relevant and must be produced, or if it is irrelevant, privileged, or otherwise does not need to be produced to the other side?
If I sue my mechanic because he screwed up my transmission repair, the process is pretty simple. I will bring bills, receipts, and other stuff I think is relevant to my lawyer, my mechanic will do the same, our attorneys will examine the documents, determine a case strategy, produce responsive evidence to the other side, perhaps conduct some depositions, and – in real life – a settlement offer will likely be negotiated. In a case like this, there are probably only one or two people who have responsive information, there isn’t much information, and the information is pretty simple.
Now, what happens if 10,000 people want to sue a vehicle manufacturer because their cars seemingly have a habit of accelerating on their own, causing damage, loss, and even death? In a case like this, the process of finding, selecting, and producing responsive information will likely be a multi-year effort costing millions of dollars. The most expensive part of this process has traditionally been the review process. Which of the millions of email messages the manufacturer has in its email archive are related to the case? Which CAD drawings? Which presentations that management used to drive key quality control decisions? Which server logs?
Before we got smart and started applying smart software to this problem, the process was linear, i.e., we made broad cuts based on dates, custodians, departments etc. and then human reviewers – expensive attorneys in fact – would look at each document and make a classification decision. The process was slow, incredibly expensive, and not necessarily that accurate.
Today, we have the option to apply software to the problem. Software that is based on well-known, studied and widely used algorithms and statistical models. Software that, used correctly, can defensibly bring massive time and cost savings to the e-discovery problem. (There are many sources of the current state of case law on predictive coding, such as this.) Predictive coding software, for example, uses a small set of responsive documents to train the coding engine to find similar documents in the much larger document pool. The results can be validated through sampling and other techniques, but the net result is that the right documents can potentially be found much more quickly and cheaply.
Of course predictive coding is just a class of technology. It is a tool. An instrument. And, as many aspiring rock gods have learned, owning a vintage Gibson Les Paul and a Marshal stack will not in and of itself guarantee that your rendition of Stairway to Heaven at open mic night will, like, change the world, man.
So why did I go to the Predictive Coding Bootcamp? I went because I believe that Information Governance will only be made real when we find a way to apply the technologies and techniques of predictive coding to IG. In other words, to the continuous, day-to-day management of business information. Here’s why:
Human classification of content at scale is a fantasy.
I have designed, implemented, and advocated many different systems for human-based classification of business records at dozens of clients over the last decade. In some limited circumstances, they do work, or at least they improve upon an otherwise dismal situation. However, it has become clear to me (and certainly others) that human based-classification methods alone will not solve this problem for most organizations in most situations moving forward. Surely by now we all understand why. There is too much information. The river is flowing too quickly, and the banks have gotten wider. Expecting humans to create dams in the river and siphon of the records is frankly, unrealistic and counterproductive.
Others have come to the same conclusion. For example, yesterday I was discussing this concept with Bennett B. Borden (Chair of the Information Governance and eDiscovery practice at Drinker Biddle & Reath) at the MER Conference in Chicago, where he provided the opening keynote. Here’s what Bennett had to say:
“We’ve been using these tools for years in the e-discovery context. We’ve figured out how to use them in some of the most exacting and high-stakes situations you can imagine. Using them in an IG context is an obvious next step and quite frankly probably a much easier use case in some ways. IG does present different challenges, but they are primarily challenges of corporate culture and change management, rather than legal or technical challenges.”
The technology has been (and continues to be) refined in a high-stakes environment.
E-discovery is often akin to gladiatorial combat. It is often conducted under incredible time pressures, with extreme scrutiny of each decision and action by a both and enemy and a judge. The context of IG in most organizations is positively pastoral by comparison. Yes, there are of course enormous potential consequences for failure in IG, but most organizations have wide legal latitude to design and implement reasonable IG programs as they see fit. Records retention schedules and policies, for example, are rarely scrutinized by regulators outside of a few specific industries.
I recently talked about this issue with Dean Gonsowski, Associate General Counsel at Recommind. Recommind is a leader in predictive coding software for the e-discovery market and is now turning its attention to the IG market in a serious way. Here’s what Dean had to say:
“E-discovery is the testing ground for cutting-edge information classification technology. Predictive coding technology has been intensively scrutinized by the bench and the bar. The courts have swung from questioning if the process was defensible to stating that legal professionals should be using it. The standard in IG is one of reasonableness, which may be a lower standard than the one you must meet in litigation.”
There is an established academic and scientific community.
The statistical methods, algorithms, and other techniques embodied by predictive coding software are the product of a mature and developing body of academic research and publishing. The science is well-understood (at least by people much, much smarter that me). TREC is a great example of this. It is a program sponsored by the US government and overseen by a program committee consisting of representatives from government, industry, and academia. It conducts research and evaluation of the tools and techniques at the heart of predictive coding. The way that this science is implemented by the software vendors who commercialize it varies widely, so purchasers must learn to ask intelligent questions.TREC and other groups help with this as well.
I will soon be writing more about the application of predictive coding technology to IG, but today I wanted to provide an introduction to the concept and the key reasons why I think it points the way forward to IG. Let me know your thoughts.
Here is the fourth video in our five-part series where I asked 30 Information Governance experts the same question, then produced a 5 minute video of their responses. As you watch the series, it is very interesting to see the common threads that weave through the answers, depending on the role and the type of organization the interviewee comes from.