We have already seen that the current e-discovery market is characterized by consolidation and the emergence of a number of very large vendors. In spite of this, Garter’s Magic Quadrant for this space is still extremely competitive with 23 vendors overall, and nine in the Leader’s quadrant. The Leaders, we have also seen, can cover just about any aspect of information management from discovery to storage or retrieval.

Gartner e-Discovery Leaders Quadrant

But what is it that pushes a vendor into the Leader’s quadrant? While there are nine in it this year, only five of those were in it last year with three moving from the Challengers to the Leader’s quadrant, and one moving up from the Visionaries quadrant.

There are some basic criteria that need to be met to even make it into the Magic Quadrant. On a practical level they must:

  • Generate at least US$ 20 million in revenue per year from the sale of e-discovery software.
  • Own the intellectual property and copyright to the software.
  • Have at least 50 customers in production.

There are other functionality criteria too. However, to make it into the Leader’s quadrant, vendors must demonstrate 4 primary characteristics.

4 e-Discovery Leader Criteria

Those characteristics include:

1. EDRM Functionality: They must meet one or more requirements from both sides of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), which outlines standards for each of the elements in an end-to-end e-discovery system. They should also be present in the Enterprise Information Archiving space and able to demonstrate functionality in this respect. Vendors must also be able to demonstrate that their products reduce the number of people that access data.

2. Business Model: Vendors must be able to demonstrate that their primary focus is on the development of software and sales of that software rather than the provision of services. While there are a number of vendors in the Leaders’ Quadrant that provide services, their main business must be from software.

3. Client base: Vendors must also be able to demonstrate a good mix of corporate and law firms buying their products. The market for legal-solution providers is strong at the moment, but getting smaller and Leaders must be able tdemonstrate a strategy for overcoming this, which includes corporate selling.

4. Financial performance: The final criteria is that Leaders must be able to show solid financial performance as well as growth possibilities. Leaders need to keep pace with overall market growth.

e-Discovery MQ Leaders

The 9 vendors that were able to demonstrate these characteristics along with the basic entry level requirements in alphabetical order include: AccessData, Exterro, FTI Technology, Guidance Software, HP-Autonomy, kCura, Kroll Ontrack, Recommind and Symantec.

AccessData

Offers EDRM from the data identification stages to the production stages along with early case assessment through the AD e-Discovery software platform. Allows for targeted forensics processing and collection from an increasingly wide number of sources including desktops and mobiles.

  • Strengths: Ease of use in the identification and collection processes are a differentiator, Gartner says, as is its method of collecting data without disturbing metadata. Offers full EDRM spectrum coverage.
  • Cautions: Reference says recent releases have led to product instability and that they have difficulty integrating AccessData with other products. Its litigation hold functions are not rated highly.

Exterro

Its main offering -- the Exterro Fusion e-Discovery Suite -- is built on a single platform that offers robust support for workflow management, in-house litigation holds and project management. It offers easy integration with other enterprise systems, including content management systems.

  • Strengths: Its ability to work with a wide range of partners has led to high customer satisfaction rating. It has a full spectrum of EDRM capabilities while its products score for ease of use.
  • Cautions: Some references identify the design and maturing of its Fusion products as something that could be improved. Gartner also says it needs to invest in marketing.

FTI Technology

FTI Technology is a business unit of FTI Consulting that bought into the e-discovery market through the acquisition of Ringtail Solutions and Attenex. It covers the full range of e-discovery tasks including early case assessment and has SaaS and on-premises solutions.

  • Strengths: Has powerful document review that pushes the limits of scalability and performance while the breath of its FTI expertise makes it a leading choice for large, litigious companies.
  • Cautions: Its pricing models can be difficult to understand. While it has many advanced features, it needs to educate the market about the reach of its solutions. It also require significant training to use.

Guidance Software

Guidance focuses on forensic data collection and analysis and bought CaseCentral in 2012. It offers a secure, Web-hosted offering for e-discovery document reviews and covers the full range of EDRM functionality as well as auditable repository-based means of identifying, collecting, preserving and processing data.

  • Strengths: Offers full e-discovery including robust forensics capabilities and automated integration across the entire EDRM spectrum. Pricing is easy to understand and reasonable according to references.
  • Cautions: Gartner says its review functionality has not been marketed well and rarely appears on shortlists of review tools. Its ease of use and functionality doesn’t do as well as competitors, but it is addressing these issues.

HP-Autonomy

Autonomy is now a business unit in HP, but its e-discovery capabilities remain core. It has adopted HP’s best practices and there have been many positive changes, including rationalization of the portfolio. It also has better defined roadmaps for its products.

  • Strengths: The rationalization of its portfolio has been largely positive and covers all aspects of EDRM including enterprise information archiving and other information management software. It is well placed to meet current client demands and has a strategic vision of information governance.
  • Cautions: New clients say they need deployment support during the start-up phase and that software documentation needs improvement. Its reputation is still questioned by existing and prospective customers.

kCura

kCura focuses on the processing, review, analysis and production of documents and its Relativity product is now considered "best in class" by many legal end users. Earlier this year it introduced new processing functionality, with the team focusing on continued product development.

  • Strengths: It focuses on legal end users and is widely used through production stages of e-discovery. Its technology is flexible and open enabling easy customization of workflows.
  • Cautions: It needs to enhance its review capabilities as these have become essential for many legal end users.

Kroll Ontrack

Kroll offers an outsourced review platform, early data assessment and SaaS-based processing, identification, preservation and collection. It has the brand experience and scalability to help customers with widely distributed e-discovery workloads.

  • Strengths: Has a clear vision that is supported by a solid product and roadmap including additional support for differentiated technology-assisted review. Provides flexible and reliable solutions through its long industry and technology experiences.
  • Cautions: Some references report problems with customer service as well as project management issues relating to communication and other product updates.

Recommind

Has a strong background in providing search, knowledge management and information retrieval capabilities to law firms and can perform litigation, holds, collection, processing and review. Gartner says it should make the short list of any company with heavy caseloads.

  • Strengths: It has helped popularize predictive coding or technology-assisted document review and has gained a lot of attention for its predictive-coding workflow, which is used by many corporate clients. Has a full spectrum EDRM offering.
  • Caution: Generally regarded as an expensive option even if it appears on the customer shortlist quite frequently. It is also considered a complex solution.

Symantec

With Clearwell eDiscovery Platform it covers the identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis and production stages of EDRM, along with ECA. Clearwell has recently been tightly integrated with Symantec's Enterprise Vault archiving product, Symantec's recent reorganization under a new CEO has ensured continued commitment to the e-discovery market.

  • Strengths: It offers good functionality across all phases of the EDRM spectrum while integration with other products in the information management portfolio should enhance the technology’s appeal for broader information governance use cases.
  • Caution: Some reference clients expressed dissatisfaction with Symantec's prices and pricing models, and some saw the company's support as a "work in progress."