I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s LegalTech at the Hilton in New York. This was my fourth LegalTech and certainly thought it was well attended despite the weather across the nation. Overall, the event was great as I had several productive meetings and discussions around our fascinating industry. Here are my top five pet peeves from the event.
Term of information governance is misused – Before you continue, I certainly understand information governance is still an emerging discipline with an evolving definition. With the changes (which by the way are not recent anymore) to FRCP Rule 26(a), all electronic stored information (ESI) is admissible in courts. Companies who have traditionally been in the Electronic Content Management (ECM) space – EMC, IBM, OpenText, Autonomy, Oracle – are now touting information governance messages. I talked with each one and tried to understand the differences between each one. It seems every vendor tailors the definition of information governance to fit their technology/needs. No surprise there. To simplify Gartner’s definition, information governance enforces desirable behavior in the creation, use, archiving, and deletion of corporate information. There was a vendor who was selling litigation services pitching an information governance solution and claimed information governance is the process for managing an eDiscovery request. One of the “big” ECM vendors told me verbatim “information governance doesn’t mean anything” which was interesting because the booth had “Information Governance” in capital block letters.
Practice what they preach – It seemed there were quite a few people across all the lobbies fiercely typing away on their smart phones not cognizant of the risks regarding the emails they were sending. I overheard two sales people negotiating deals and typing the conditions of the contracts via email. Those emails are potential records and can be discoverable. I saw the same two people at a booth selling eDiscovery still typing on their Blackberries in the booth. I wonder how many vendors at LegalTech have an information governance program and train their employees on the policies around information management.
Me too vendor – The more things change, the more they stay the same. Last year, there were just too many vendors offering eDiscovery. At this year’s event, it was no different. It was very difficult to determine the differences between many of the vendors simply by walking around the expo floor. At one point, I was going to take out my bullhorn and have all the vendors stand up and move one step right. It’s a good thing I paid $4 to check it in with my coat. The only way to determine the differences between the vendors was by having a discussion with each and every one of them. It is clear many of the vendors who provide litigation services jumped on the eDiscovery bandwagon with the promise of helping litigation teams lower eDiscovery costs. I was really impressed with solutions from Clearwell Systems and StoredIQ. Some of the vendors were new to LegalTech and some of the vendors I met last year were not there. Just as last year, vendors still blurred the lines between software and services. This is clearly a market primed for consolidation (mergers, acquisitions, fall out).
Vendor maze and vendor craze – Most large tradeshows have a very structured exposition hall based on a standard grid – you know, rows and columns. This allows the attendee to easily find what they are looking for, meet up with other attendees, or know where they are in the expo hall. Due to the size of LegalTech, it might be time for ALM to find a location where they can support the familiar grid layout. Otherwise, they should consider having different pavilions. For example, Grand Ballroom I focuses on litigation services, Grand Ballroom II is dedicated to LexisNexis, and Grand Ballroom III to reactive eDiscovery solutions. Also, I love all the vendor tweets before and during the event demanding attendees to stop by their booths for a chance to win a prize or see the latest breakthrough solution. I love this report with Twitter statistics from the various vendors.
Apple got the most visibility – Finally, I am fully aware of all the trinkets and raffles vendors have to give away in order to attract people to their products/services. Most vendors had an Apple logo – offering a chance to win iPads and iPods. I am hoping Apple will offer an iDiscovery solution at next year’s LegalTech.