In many ways, 2010 set the stage for 2011 in e-discovery trends. In 2010, the enterprise reluctantly accepted that emerging technologies like social media and cloud computing could no longer be ignored. Back in November, we offered up Clearwell’s top 5 predictions for e-Discovery in 2011. As we near the end of this year, we asked other e-Discovery vendors to tell us what the new year holds for e-Discovery.

1. Cloud Adoption Continues to Increase

Rich Hall, vice president of e-Discovery solutions at Bridgeway Software expects that companies will tackle e-Discovery more strategically in 2011. While many have waited for others to make a move, some companies moved eagerly ahead with cloud computing, for example, and as a result may have gotten in deeper than they intended.

In 2011, Hall says that companies will continue to adopt the cloud, but at a much slower rate. Thanks to some valuable insights, companies are expected to take a step back, take a deep breath and evaluate the policies that govern their presence in the cloud.

2. More Collaboration Tools

More and more companies will be using collaboration tools to facilitate their e-Discovery management, says Hall. Thanks to better functionality and availability of tools integrated into e-Discovery platforms, managing more of the process is easier. You can not only control who received specific information, you can also keep track of project management and collaboration.

When it comes to collaborative technologies, the easier it is to use the more likely it is that legal team members will use it.

3. e-Discovery Expands into Litigation Management

In the past, there hasn’t been an accurate metric by which to understand how much e-Discovery costs. However, Hall says that e-Discovery has been evolving to include matter management, which can help companies make decisions based on cost and available resources.

Decisions are based mostly on how much it will cost as well as how much reputational damage may be suffered as a result. With more matter management, companies can begin to see how policies and standards affect their bottom line.

4. Lawyers Get Empowered

Perhaps the most surprising prediction is based on the trend of more and more attorneys adapting to mobile technologies, like tablet devices that let them do what they need to do quickly and easily.

Lawyers using iPads? Like empowered employees before them, the more acceptable iPads and other smart mobile devices become in their personal lives, the more likely they’ll become integrated professionally because they can streamline work and make everyone more efficient. Such integration will create an opportunity of vendors to create friendly interfaces from which to access information and project tools.

Ursala Talley, vice president of marketing and Keith Zoellner, chief technology officer and vice president of engineering at StoredIq talked with us about how they envisioned the e-Discovery landscape in the coming year.

5. Find Where Data Lives

In 2011, SharePoint will continue to be a significant issue for IT, while providing an opportunity for vendors. The fastest growing source of data in the enterprise has been SharePoint and yet, no one really knows where their data is. That’s about to change, says Zoellner.

By adding new data sources from third party platforms, like social media, they are forcing companies to understand where and what their data is. Additionally, Zoellner agrees that in order to make it easier, companies will need to understand their data before it’s collected and data will need to be culled before it’s reviewed.

New data sources provide new opportunities for new information to live, making it essential for legal members to have access. As a result, efficient workflows are needed so that IT and legal can manage the process together. Because IT and legal have never worked together, they don’t necessarily know how to work together, but their input is valuable nonetheless.

6. Cut Through the Chaos

The role of e-Discovery systems is to discover data, but because companies are reluctant to purge information, vendors need to also give them the tools necessary to manage their data. In 2011, companies will need more than just early case assessment to systemically reduce data. Instead they’ll need a comprehensive information management system designed to help companies make key decisions about their data.

Finally, Zoellner predicts that with data heading to the cloud, companies should embrace it as if it’s just another data center. Whether data is public, private, on the cloud or elsewhere, companies need to know what it is, where it is and how long it needs to be there.

So there you have it. There's a lot to look forward to in 2011. Let us know which of these trends you expect to tackle first in the new year.