December 3, 2020

The End of the Forensics/E-Discovery Divide

I can’t tell how many times I’ve heard professionals in the e-discovery and/or forensics field talk about the extreme differences between e-discovery and forensics. If they’re forensics experts, they talk about the bag of complex tools they have, and the obscure methods they use to unearth the hidden truth on a suspect’s computer and mobile devices. If they’re e-discovery experts, they talk about leaving the collection up to the forensics experts so they can focus on contemporary non-linear review techniques. These experts are out of touch and behind and often they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. The simple fact is the two markets are converging so rapidly that I would be amazed if the divide wasn’t completely gone within the next two years.

As a leader in both markets, AccessData has no intention of being late to the convergence. Frankly it was our anticipation of this convergence that led us to acquire Summation. For those of you that remember, my first blog post was actually entitled “In eDiscovery, Forensics Is NOT a 4 letter Word.” Since our acquisition of Summation we have focused a huge percent of our effort on delivering integration between our Summation and FTK products and the reward of those efforts will be realized in the coming months. Summation 4.2, which will be release in mid April, and FTK 5.0, which will be released in early May, will not only run on the same database, but they will completely and seamlessly inter-operate. Summation users and FTK users will not only be able to work the same case at the same time but they will be able to engage in real-time collaboration across all including review, data manipulation, and exploration. For the first time in the digital investigation, discipline users will be able to combine the data manipulation capabilities of FTK with the market leading review capabilities of Summation. This will not only further coalesce these two markets, but over time will fundamentally dissolve the barriers that have made them separate markets since inception.

As a statement supporting the value proposition of the combination these tools will bring, our President, Brian Karney, recently got this email from an FTK user:

Brian, I hope all is well.  As you are aware, I am a huge AD advocate and have been particularly excited about the release of FTK 4.2 and the upcoming release of Summation 4.2.  Today, I participated in a Webex conference hosted by Scott Lefton & Darryl Tramonte where they provided a demo of the integrated FTK-Summation platform.  I am quite pleased with how the platform works.  AD has done something that no one else has ever managed to accomplish.  Kudos!

I am somewhat of an anomaly in the forensic & e-discovery market.  Our firm is one of the very few firms in the U.S. that are recognized as experts in both forensics and e-discovery.  We combine these two fields of expertise to provide our clients with a custom cost-effective solution.  In addition to running a business, I am attending law school in the evenings to complete my law degree.  Although we don’t officially provide legal advice, I regularly inform our law firm clients of state & federal precedent involving e-discovery & forensics.  We not only provide the technical assistance but also provide strategy and defensibility consulting services in both state & federal matters.

The FTK-Summation combination has the potential to up-end the e-discovery market and forever change how these services are priced and delivered.

I don’t actually think the writer of the email is as much of an anomaly as he thinks. Frankly I see the convergence of forensics and e-discovery just about everywhere and I think the release of our integration will dramatically accelerate that convergence. While our initial integration will be based on collaboration between an FTK and Summation user, we will focus over the coming year on totally erasing the distinction between the two. The end goal is to have a single product capable of offering a client the full power of both solutions. Once these capabilities are truly exposed with a simple, uniform interface and customers see the increase in power and efficiency, I hope to soften expert opinion about the great divide between the e-discovery and forensics markets.

Tim Leehealey

Tim Leehealey is Chairman and CEO of AccessData. Prior to joining AccessData he was VP of Corporate Development at Guidance Software. Prior to that he was an investment banking analyst covering the security market at Wedbush Morgan.

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