Are your digital surveys hurting you?


Modern investigations involving vast pools of potentially relevant Electronically Stored Information (ESI) are extremely demanding and regulated in response to data privacy, cybersecurity breaches, suspicion of IP theft, verification from suite C, to pre-mergers, etc. Timely and cooperative self-reporting is essential in today’s increased global regulatory environment and can help organizations avoid a large-scale agency investigation that drains valuable time and resources to the organization. business. Finding the facts early can make the difference between a favorable and fully informed settlement and an overly costly and protracted litigation.

Unfortunately, several factors work against investigators, including tight deadlines, large amounts of data, data complexity, and stretched resources, making it increasingly difficult for investigative teams to focus on the key facts. in a timely, efficient and cost effective manner. manner.

And it’s the key facts that matter.


Many investigative teams approach an investigation the same way as a review of a dispute – throwing groups of reviewers into the collection of documents to sift through them one by one, even when the starting points of ‘An investigation may not be known and the facts are not well developed or understood. Unlike the review of a dispute, it is not necessary to locate all or even most of the documents that may ultimately relate to the fact pattern. On the contrary, it is very important that critical documents are discovered quickly.

Recognizing this difference and the unique challenges of an investigation – including the unknown unknowns in which there may be little to do, which make investigations so difficult – is the key to designing an effective and efficient desk investigation protocol. .

The skillful application of technology to good processes and expertise In designing an appropriate protocol, managing the execution of all elements and experience querying unstructured data is key to a successful investigation, making the job of investigators easier and more productive, regardless of the location of data or investigators.

Here’s how to get the facts back quickly and save time on the investigation.


The first step is to get the data that investigators need, and while it may seem counterintuitive, collecting as much data as possible is often the best way to start an investigation. Ensuring a complete collection early on reduces the risk of forgetting key evidence and saves time associated with multiple collections on an ad hoc basis. Investigative experts can implement processes and take advantage of technology to avoid reviewing unnecessary data.


Any business information is dispersed across systems, servers, and geographies, making it difficult to collect all the data you might need in a survey. Cloud-based technology collect and host substantial amounts of data for easy access and analysis, reducing the risk of overlooking key evidence that tells the story.

As the data collected begins to flow into the cloud-based technology, investigators can almost immediately begin the work of analyzing it. And again, cloud technology can help optimize analysis processes and ensure that all members of an investigation team can access them, wherever they are.


Good investigators are trained to look for connections in data, exploiting the subtle ways in which multiple pieces of information relate to each other to form a more complete picture. For example, communications analysis can allow the investigation team to explore communications between specific individuals and identify critical individuals connected to data already flagged as important. Tracking these connections allows for deeper understanding and leads to other critical data faster.


A key to quickly finding critical documents in the mass of data collected may be to deploy an appropriate technology-assisted review (TAR) protocol. Modern machine learning-based TAR tools find documents most likely to be relevant, even those hidden in the corners of the document collection that are contextually different from anything known at that time. This means that the investigation is less likely to miss critical issues that were unknown at the start of the review. And that means a better chance of finding unknown strangers.


Even arriving empty-handed can be important to an investigation. A government or regulatory investigation, for example, may search for certain documents. Using TAR on a contextually diverse sample of data may offer a reasonable and defensible way to show the absence of responsive records without having to examine the entire collection.

The stock of data accumulated by organizations will only continue to increase. As new laws and regulations come into effect, or organizations expand into new jurisdictions, investigations will become more frequent. The good news is that the rising tide of data and the growing demand for surveys can be met. And these surveys can be performed from anywhere, accessing data from anywhere, with the right expertise, technology and processes.

Visit our website to find out how OpenText can help you optimize modern ESI surveys.

Rachel Teisch is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for Legal Technology Solutions at OpenText.

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