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.


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.


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.