Duncan Fraser’s article on reducing risk with Information Governance was published in the August 2015, Financier Worldwide Special Report on Technology in Business. The article, “Is your information an asset or a liability?” provides a succinct assessment of the risks of poorly managed information. The article concludes with practical advice on implementing effective Information Governance. You can read the full article here.
Key word searching for legal research may be a thing of the past – along with legal research companies – thanks to the artificial intelligence of a computer. We read with interest last Fall about the work being carried out at the University of Toronto involving training Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence computer system that won on Jeopardy in 2011, how to perform legal research.
The researchers founded a company, ROSS (which doesn’t apparently stand for anything), to market this service to law firms. The co-founder of ROSS, Andrew Arruda, says that “It’s able to do what it would take lawyers hours to do in seconds.”
Originally trained with Canadian law, ROSS recently announced that they are now training Watson with U.S. bankruptcy and insolvency law cases, and have signed up a number of U.S. law firms to test (and additionally train) the system.
ROSS uses natural language processing, meaning a lawyer can ask ROSS a legal question just like they were talking to another lawyer. ROSS will analyse all of its accumulated knowledge and provide one or more answers. Where more than one answer is provided, it will rank each one based on how confident it is that it got the answer right. A senior lawyer can use ROSS to perform legal research without requiring an army of students and associates.
While law students might be trembling in their shoes over being rendered redundant by a computer, the established law research firms, such as LexisNexis and Westlaw, should be the most concerned. Just as Netflix has replaced storefront video rental establishments such as Blockbuster, ROSS, and other firms like it, may, someday in the near future, replace LexisNexis and Westlaw in the estimated $8.4 billion annual legal research market.
Information management involves classifying and dealing with information in a uniform way, so that redundant, obsolete and trivial (ROT) information is disposed of, duplicates are tracked and dealt with as a single record, and retained information is ordered so that it is easy to find.
Up until now, information management has focused primarily on unstructured data (Microsoft Office files, PDFs, emails, etc.). Structured data, more commonly known as database information, has not received its share of attention, mainly because of two reasons: because of the way relational databases are designed, it’s difficult to remove individual records without corrupting the relationships; and database information is already in an ordered state, so that finding the information you want is not difficult. However, just like unstructured data, databases contain ROT. Some of the ROT can be harmful to an organization, either when it faces litigation, or if it is subject to a data breach (just as Target, who had 10 year old customer data it no longer needed stolen from a database).
Well, structured data has finally started to appear on the information management radar. On June 16th, Gartner Research released its second annual “Magic Quadrant for Structured Data Archiving and Application Retirement” (the first report was issued a year ago in June, 2014). This study ranked vendors who provide solutions for archiving and disposing of structured data into four quadrants: Leaders, Challengers, Niche Players and Visionaries.
Not surprisingly, since this is a relatively new field, there were only two vendors classified as Visionaries, and both were almost classified as Leaders – EMC and Teradata. Unlike the rest, who basically offer solutions that copy entire databases to less expensive storage, EMC and Teradata offer solutions that analyse database content and relational structure, and offer solutions to extract just those bits of data that are no longer required, or can be taken offline.
Making up more than three-quarters of all data, structured information needs to be included in any information management plan. Gartner’s report helps those facing this hurdle to sort out the vendor playing field.