The e-discovery market has had a long time to mature — and it still has room to grow. Gartner predicts the market will grow from its current value of $1.8 billion to $3.1 billion by 2018.

The market is also in the midst of significant change. Enterprises are moving away from service providers for identification, preservation, collection and processing of data to in-house data management and discovery.

An Important Sector

The findings are contained in this year’s Magic Quadrant for E-Discovery, one of the largest that Gartner publishes. There are 22 vendors in it this year, including nine in the Leaders Quadrant. Apart from the fact that enterprises are moving e-discovery in-house, the growth is also being pushed by the rising global awareness of the importance of e-discovery, especially in Europe and Asia/Pacific.

There are also a number of adjacent software markets that are feeding into e-discovery, including information governance, enterprise content management, file analysis and data analytics. Many of the vendors in this space will add e-discovery functions to their existing capabilities.

But what exactly are we talking about here? The growth in the e-discovery market is a direct response to the growth in the amount of information that is now being forced to comply with many different regulations, especially since the financial crisis of 2008.

To monitor and discover various sources and kinds of information, enterprises are increasingly turning to software, even in professions with long-standing dependencies on paper.

The market in the past was characterized by many small vendors along with a handful of large ones. But this is changing. The emphasis now is on software and management service providers, and manual processes and custom systems are  being replaced by off-the-shelf systems.

Further disruption to this market is also expected soon with changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which were proposed in early 2013. According to Gartner, once these are finalized, the e-discovery market faces further upheaval.

MQ Inclusion Criteria

Here is what a vendor needs to do to be included in the Magic Quadrant for e-discovery: sell enterprise software licenses, offer a software application or e-discovery Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and optionally provide e-discovery services. Vendors also have to cover at least two out of three broad functional areas relating to the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM).

The EDRM was developed in 2005 and consists of a highly detailed reference model that is used as a standard for the discovery and recovery of digital data. The three broad areas for the sake of the MQ consist of: