Too much information

February 8, 2008

Legal – IT backwater no more

Filed under: Archiving, Content managament, Search — Tags: , — Nick Patience @ 2:31 pm

I’ve been attending LegalTech here in New York for the past few years, but this year things seemed to be different.

Firstly, and most noticeably, every inch of available space at the New York Hilton on 6th Avenue was taken, spread across three floors. The corridors, which in less busy shows simply lead you to rooms, were lined with stands as were the exhibition spaces. It reminded me of the annual SIFMA Technology Management conference, which is a bit of a zoo and in the same location. But unlike the financial services industry, the legal industry and general counsel offices of corporations haven’t traditionally been seen as major buyers of IT, let alone cutting edge stuff.

But there’s nothing like regulations to fuel a surge in the market. The changes the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which took effect in December 2006 and mandated that all electronic records were discoverable and that parties needed to be ready within 120 days of the start of a lawsuit to discuss their eDiscovery terms. This made eDiscovery a very hot market in 2007 (and helped Stratify to a nice valuation when it was bought by Iron Mountain in July 2007 for $158m).

But one of the messages I picked up pretty loud and clear is that law firms and legal departments have their eye on a much bigger problem, currently being done largely manually, but ripe for automation: document review. Figures of a $15bn market for document review now and a bill of $40bn by 2011 for overall review expense raised more than a few eyebrows among some prospective customers of document review vendors (many of which are also eDiscovery vendors, a market pegged at about $3bn). Jay Brudz, senior counsel, Legal Technology at GE, put it bluntly, “you know how many freaking lightbulbs we’ve gotta sell to pay for that?,” before making it clear that he had no intention in paying what vendors are asking.

The other point of tension I’m picking up is the one between intelligent archiving and search – the battle of ideas between those that think it’s better to do all the tagging at archive time and do some culling at that point (to avoid storing dupes and garbage) and those that think you should store everything and develop smarter search engines.

It’s clear – admittedly without any empirical evidence to hand – that protagonists in this space, be they general counsel departments, outside law firms or the vendors feel the rate is increasing so fast, their ability to cull the data at archiving time to make it more easily discoverable later can’t keep pace. There’s clearly somethig to that, given how rapidly talk has moved from gigabytes, to terabytes to petabytes to something an IBMer who handles data governance strategy for the company told me his clients call Goog-bytes – a generic term to mean so much data they can’t get their heads around it. After all, at this rate it won’t be that long before we talk of yottabytes in this arena, and what comes after that?

Search and archiving is something we at 451 Group have spent a lot of time on already and that is sure to continue in 2008.

February 7, 2008

Google Apps Team Edition

Filed under: 2.0, Collaboration — Tags: — Kathleen Reidy @ 3:16 pm

An interesting follow-up to yesterday’s post about Google’s role as a provider of enterprise social software. A free Team Edition of Apps (lacks email) will make it easier for business groups within the same domain to use Google Docs and shared calendars without involving IT. So it has some benefits over simply using individual Google accounts, at least if those you want to collaborate with are on the same domain. Another way for average users to get their own access to web-based collaborative tools.

Google launches free Team Edition of Apps

How much information?

Filed under: Internet — Nick Patience @ 1:09 pm

Given this blog’s name we were very interested to meet up again with Michael Nelson, recently of IBM and now visiting professor at Georgetown University, teaching courses including “The Future of the Internet” and “What Shapes the Global Information Society.” Nelson was until last year director of IBM’s Internet technology and strategy, helping to implement the thoughts of people like the recently retired Irving Wladawsky-Berger and John Patrick, as well as deep involvement in various Internet Society and United Nations efforts in Internet governance. I met him in the 1990s during the various meetings that led to the creation of ICANN in 1998, during which time he left the FCC (after a stint at the Clinton White House) and joined IBM.

We met at an IBM event announcing its plans for Cognos, the acquisition of which closed at the end of January. Nelson chaired a panel of a couple of Cognos customers – one that sold pizza and one that sold gardening tools, but both of which were grappling with rapidly increasing volumes of data within their corporations and both of which used Cognos’ tools to try and do more than just figure out what they have – to actually figures out how their business are performing and how they might to do in the future – performance management tools, leading to business optimization in IBM-Cognos parlance.

Nelson’s only been there for three months, but one of the projects his students are working on is to measure the amount of data on the Internet; of course he acknowledges that depending on what you count as being ‘on the Internet’ (is a company’s on the Internet?) he and his students could be out by factors of 5, 10 or whatever. I will be finding out more soon and will report back here.

February 6, 2008

Google as a social app

Filed under: 2.0, Collaboration — Tags: — Kathleen Reidy @ 3:41 pm

We did a webinar this morning on enterprise social software, mostly presenting some high-level results of a survey we did with ChangeWave Research and analysis of the survey data and the market for our new special report on social software.

We had some Q&A at the end of the session using the web meeting software. I didn’t get to answer all the questions on the call as we ran out of time but have been going through the questions that queued up. There were several on Google and specifically on whether or not Google’s current enterprise offerings (Google Apps mostly) are “social.”

I don’t think it’s particularly useful to spend time debating whether or not Google Docs is social software. It’s a useful tool – I use it fairly regularly to collaboratively author documents and to share them with folks inside and outside of the company. That’s certainly a collaborative app and in some ways it’s definitely more collaborative than Microsoft Office (though I find the revision tracking with Google much more difficult).

But what strikes me about all these Google questions is the mindshare Google already has in the market, whether or not it has the tools. That’s part of what we found in our survey and what I discussed this morning on the webinar. In our survey, 18% of those currently using or planning to use social software (defined in this report as social networking, blogs, wikis and social bookmarking) in their organizations use or plan to use Google. I’m not sure what products / services exactly as Google doesn’t even really have enterprise offerings in these specific categories. But there you have it. And then a good chunk of the questions I had on the content were on Google. It’s definitely a ripe market for Google, if and when it decides to pick it.

January 30, 2008

Upcoming webinar on social software adoption

Filed under: 2.0, Collaboration — Kathleen Reidy @ 12:29 pm

I’ll be doing a short webinar next week covering some of the high-level data we gathered in a survey on social software. The survey is the basis of a new report, The New Social Order, that looks at early adoption trends in social software, drivers for adoption and some early trends in vendor preferences.

The webinar will review:

  • Survey data on the state of adoption of social software
  • The types of initiatives for which organizations are using blogs, wikis, social networking, and social tagging and bookmarking tools
  • How adoption of social networking technologies in the enterprise is further blurring the line between consumer and corporate technologies
  • Vendor preferences of enterprise users for social software.

Webinar will take place on Wednesday the 6th of February from 12:00 to 12:30pm EDT.

Click here to register

January 29, 2008

Talking ’bout a generation…

Filed under: 2.0 — Kathleen Reidy @ 3:07 pm

Three cheers for this post from Alan Pelz-Sharpe over at CMS Watch entitled “Debunking the Google Generation Myth.” He cites a UK study that found little substantive difference between a “new generation” entering the workforce and the rest of us.

I’m awfully tired of hearing about how enterprises need to change their applications to suit this “new generation.” I’m not doubting that kids graduating from college today are more tech-savvy than, say, my mother (who gets around email and the web pretty well herself these days), but since when do large employers change corporate culture and process to make new employees, what, happier? More comfortable? And are kids graduating from college today in a position to be so choosy that the UIs of enterprise applications are a factor as they choose between jobs? Outside of the tech industry where individuals are paid to show initiative with technology projects, how many first-year employees have the nerve (or inclination) to start a skunkworks social software project if the corporate app they’re expected to use doesn’t work like Facebook?

I’m not saying that corporate cultures don’t change or that they won’t, slowly, evolve as technology and technology users change. This has always been the case and will continue to be so. But there are so many more interesting (and legitimate) reasons for organizations to look at social software than because a ‘new generation demands’ it. Getting important discussions out of email and into a forum where they can be more broadly shared and retained, enabling far-flung colleagues and partners to find and work with each other more easily, and doing a better job organizing and sharing the ever-increasing onslaught of information, are a few such reasons.

January 25, 2008

Text analysis in 2008

Filed under: Search, Text analysis — Tags: , , , , , — Nick Patience @ 11:41 am

I was asked by someone recently what I thought would be a major trend in text analysis (or text analytics, but I prefer analysis) in 2008. We covered this ground in 451’s annual preview of storage and information management. That’s available to 451 customers only, but the sub-title of the section on search and text analysis was ‘The big vendors move in.’

That referred as much to to search as it did to text analysis, with the emergence of Oracle and SAP as players in the search market along with IBM. t mentioned Microsoft but at that time, it looked as if Redmond was content to continue developing its own stuff. But then it bought Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) and that changed things. And, I think, along with SAP’s ownership of Business Objects, and by extension text analysis player Inxight Software, it may mean 2008 is a year if not quite of stasis, then certainly of a slower pace of innovation.

FAST had a lot of interesting stuff in its labs, probably too much judging by the financial mess it got itself into mid-2007. But it will be distracted this year as it gets subsumed into Microsoft and it ties itself ever tightly to the Microsoft platform. And similarly for thew 3 to 4 months that Business Objects owned Inxight as an independent company we heard a fair amount about its plans to leverage iunstructured information. Now SAP owns it, we may hear a lot less.

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