We are often derided by my co-workers for organizing all my ‘save-worthy’ emails in folders.  It’s a fairly rudimentary system of classification but it helps me find what we need quickly rather than searching through thousands of old emails for a subject or sender we can’t even recall.  One such folder that is busting at the seams is labeled ‘Educational.’  This is the folder we use to collect any relevant emails with information, attachments, or links to industry specific educational content.   These are best practices, research, and other content relevant to managing electronically stored information.  Most of the items we accumulate tend to be focused on information governance and eDiscovery due the nature of the industry we serve at Sherpa Software.  We often sort through recent items to pick topics we want to share with our customers or my coworkers via this blog or our newsletters and other editorial opportunities.

That is precisely what we was doing recently with the intention of selecting a topic to expand on and share in this blog post.  But an interesting observation struck me and we found it worth sharing.  As we scrolled through this folder view, listed in chronological order, and highlighting the title only, it illustrated a pattern that reinforces the trends happening in our industry.  As we reviewed the topics, taking notice of their focus and frequency, we decided to summarize the perspective it gave me on what is happening in the world of information management rather than focus on just a single editorial theme.  We have also included the links to many of these articles so you can go a step further and dive into any particular piece you find particularly enlightening.

These aren’t earth shattering realizations by any means.  Information professionals are well aware of these trends but viewing them in this format served to reinforce and also clarify the significance, urgency, and timing around the development of these trends.  Let’s take a look at the list of articles I reviewed.  These articles in the last three months, suggested three key ideas that surfaced in this view.  What conclusions start formulating for you as you review this list?  Anything surprising?

We all know that eDiscovery is growing.  But the insight gained here is not only how fast but how far afield.  It is not only global but it affects everyone.  The digital age and Internet of Things means that sources of data creation are expanding much faster than the tools to manage it can keep pace.  As suggested in the article, “Crack the Unstructured Data Code with Deep Learning,” the amount of data in the world is growing exponentially and is expected to reach 44 zettabytes – or 44 billion terabytes – by 2020. According to IDC, about 90 percent of that data will be unstructured. And the propensity of litigation make having an awareness of content or data management necessary from small mom-and-pop stores to multi-nationals.  This is a challenge for any company but presents particular challenges for SMBs who don’t have the resources of their larger counterparts.  Therefore “DIY eDiscovery” or “Bringing eDiscovery In-house” are popular trends/topics.

The volume of data and the frequency of eDiscovery are also changing the way companies do business. The legal and IT departments are forced to change with the emerging trends. To keep up, technology is playing an even greater role. From analytics tools helping you find and inventory your data to search, collection, review, and legal hold; these are must have mechanisms to survive. And even the cloud itself is breaking new ground. Yes, it creates its own challenges but it is also something that, despite its security concerns, is proving too valuable to avoid. The benefits outweigh the negatives at this point, as Sherpa suggested would be the case two to three years ago based on customer feedback. Legal and IT Departments must collaborate on multiple matters and technology is the backbone allowing this communication and organization to happen.

Finally, the risk associated with electronic data, storage, and data breaches have made proactive information governance and eDiscovery a necessity. If you wait to react after you are hit with a litigation request or worse, until after a data breach, you may be doomed.  The frequency of these breaches are increasing by the minute.  As more and more mobile devices, tablets, and wearables make their way into the workplace, the risk increases and so do the challenges of collecting this data for discovery purposes.

Alas, there is good news and much of it is contained in the informative pages linked here and written by our colleagues, competitors and friends. Check them out if you feel, like we do, that these are some of the biggest challenges facing information professionals today.  Even if you didn’t pick up on the same visualization of trends that appeared to me, this information should at least leave you a nice collection of articles to click through and read.  Maybe you too will put them in your educational folder for future reference.