Recently we told you how corporations were facing more sanctions for electronic-discovery violations. As a result, companies are urged to step up their oversight of the e-Discovery process to improve the quality of the data searched, as well as provide more direct access to the data.

Since then, two e-Discovery vendors have released products aimed at simplifying the search process, as well as providing the ability to search across multiple data storage platforms. While the timing of these releases wasn’t planned to coincide with King & Spalding’s research results (rather, it has something to do with an event we call LegalTech), it does provide a convenient context.

Both vendors approach searching and discovering electronically stored information from the perspective of process, rather than technology, though both feature advanced functions and capabilities. One vendor offers it as a service, while the other offers it as a product.

Index Engines Offers Cloud-Based Backup Tape Discovery

When we spoke to Jim McGann, vice president of Index Engines (news, site), he was eager to weigh in on the sanctions study. While he agrees that technology is only as good as the process overseeing it, he believes the technology can be used to solve critical problems within the enterprise. Such responsibility requires that companies can’t ignore their information, no matter where it exists.

As it turns out, companies often have information stored in places that aren't readily accessible. Backup tapes, for instance, contain information, though exactly what information that might be is not always known. Because case law often demands that this data be made accessible, companies need to determine how to retrieve this data so that it can be searched and reviewed. This process, called tape remediation, has traditionally been an expensive, difficult process.

Over the past few years, Index Engines -- best known for its Unified Discovery Platform, which organizes enterprise data assets and makes them accessible, searchable and easier to manage -- has also been doing a little tape search and extraction on the side. Current customers could send in some tapes, and Index Engines would process the information and make the data accessible from a cloud-based interface.

What started off as a side project has effectively turned into a full-time service called Look & Learn. Slated to launch today, Index Engines will now offer its tape search and extraction service to anyone, regardless of whether they use its full e-Discovery solutions. 

Tapes are scanned and searched, and then specific files and email are extracted without requiring the original backup software. This lets users deal only with relevant files, which usually amounts to less than 1 percent of the tape content. For $50 a tape, companies can submit tapes for full or query-based extractions. In return, Index Engines creates a cloud-based searchable index of relevant data.

Clearwell Refines Precision of Concept Search

To avoid sanctions for e-Discovery, companies need to provide more transparency for the processes in place. Because data lives in a variety of places -- email, classified files, in-house and in the cloud -- searching for information isn’t always as straightforward as you might like. Additionally, performing concept or keyword searches -- while effective for producing lots of information -- doesn’t always give precise results. 

Clearwell (news, site), a self-described intelligent e-Discovery provider, has set out to improve the usability and precision of concept search. Because the firm recognizes that keyword searching is a popular and user-friendly searching method used by most companies, it has developed a transparent concept search engine to help users weed through the massive amounts of data.

Launching this week, Clearwell’s Transparent Concept Search allows users to both interact with their data and specify the meaning for which they are looking. In other words, I can search for the term "Apple," and choose data that relates to the company, not the fruit. By breaking the process into three parts, users can preview, explore and generate reports about their query.

Preview: After users enter the keyword concept for which they want to search, Clearwell provides a preview of the most frequently occurring terms, allowing users to select the most relevant terms for inclusion or exclusion in the search.

Image 1. Concept preview shows keywords in data set and how they are being used in context.

Explore: Through a visual interface, users can dynamically interact and construct searches by exploring and linking related terms to form the most relevant searches. Users can then gain access documents and files from within the interface.

Image 2. Concept search explorers lets users select the right words to determine the concept.

Report: Users can create a report that documents which terms are included and provides analytics of the search results. Reports can be saved and exported.

Image 3. Users can click on a defined search concept to see how they are linked.

The transparency of the search process helps make the process more defensible, as well as making it easier to replicate the search. Transparent Concept Search will be available at the end of the quarter, free to current customers.

Process + Technology = Accountability

Each of these solutions provides companies with the means for locating, searching and analyzing data. The quest for relevant and defensible data can be overwhelming, but with both Look & Learn and Transparent Concept Search, the process can become more simplified, cutting costs, time and above all risks.

However, technology can only be as good as the processes that manage it. Both of these releases aim to merge the process with technology, giving users better access to the available data. By being able to interact directly with your data so that specific conditions and context can be determined, companies have a better chance of being able to comply with the law, saving time and money.