With so much mainstream attention on the business impact of cloud computing such as a Business Week special section on How Cloud Computing Will Change Business – BusinessWeek and the New York Times Magazine article on mega data centers I’m talking a lot more about what we’re doing with the cloud.
And the first issue I generally approach is that we’re using the cloud to manage ESI, not as a potentially discoverable source of ESI!
But inevitably we think the coming developments will impact e-discovery in a significant way because it will be the defining technology model that decides who survives and who is made obsolete.
Technologies that can be deployed in cloud environments – not hypothetically, or on a whiteboard but actually operating in a multi-tenant cloud environment – will survive and winners from there will emerge.
Technologies that don’t operate in the cloud – like legacy document management and litigation databases, hand-tooled and local install-based native file processing work flows, analytics tools that are not scalable, the list goes on and on frankly – will be obsolete.
So the corollary is that the entities that adopt cloud based models – be it service bureaus, technology companies, corporate legal departments or law firms – will also survive, emerge and reshape themselves in a new landscape.
Companies and firms in any part of the ecosystem are faced with a set of choices.
Do we adopt and move toward the cloud? Do we place one foot in each camp? Or do we reinvest in competing with the cloud?
Companies that get it, will be fine, and can get back to work. Companies that try to do both will do neither well. And finally, companies and firms that attempt to compete with the clouds from Amazon, Google, Sun, IBM, or Oracle will do what legal entities have generally done over the past twenty years. Which is to throw money at the problem, with no strategic or business plan in place, and no measurable results.
The question for those entities is not if they will be successful. That much is clear, they will not be.
The question is can they survive being wrong. Any legal entity – corporation or law firm – that either under-invested or invested poorly in legal technology could survive before. Technology was not a true differentiator in the legal space.
It is now. So the ramifications of being wrong are much higher.