Eye on Discovery – Is Office 365 Enough to Meet Your eDiscovery Needs?

To claim that Office 365 is a success would be an understatement. With a 320 percent increase in enterprise users from third-quarter 2015 through second-quarter 2016, business adoption of Microsoft’s cloud-based offering continues to grow exponentially each year. In fact, last year, Office 365 surpassed Salesforce to become the most widely used cloud-based business application. As companies continue to adopt Office 365, more and more information is being stored in the cloud driving a need for increased governance and eDiscovery capabilities. In response, Microsoft continues to expand Office 365’s native eDiscovery capabilities.

In December of 2015 Microsoft announced Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery, integrating features from their Equivio acquisition including machine learning and predictive coding, as well as text analytics capabilities, such as e-mail thread analysis, near-duplicate detection and clustering. More recently, in May 2016 Microsoft announced several enhancements to the application’s Security and Compliance Center, providing a new location and workflow for managing cases, performing advanced searches, issuing holds, launching Advanced eDiscovery and exporting data, all from one interface. The upgrade also removed some of the earlier limits around the number of search targets and concurrent searches, while adding to the products and services available for preservation, including Office 365 Groups and OneDrive for business.

Related to the discovery process, Microsoft has also expanded Office 365’s information governance capabilities to further help control content, such as native Data Loss Prevention and Rights Management, and the ability to apply retention to reduce the amount of discoverable data managed by an organization. Companies now have the ability to set policies for the disposition of content in Office 365 Groups, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint sites using document and site level deletion policies.

With all of these recent advances, many organizations may find that the native eDiscovery functionality of Office 365 is enough to meet their needs in most instances. But what happens when the native functionality is not enough? With that in mind, here are three things to consider before adopting Office 365 as your eDiscovery solution.

  1. Office 365 may not be the full picture

While adoption of Office 365 continues to grow, many organizations (even early adopters) continue to rely on hybrid environments that include both Office 365 and on premise solutions. Content may reside in other systems such as cloud-based applications and on smartphones and other mobile devices and historical email may be held in 3rd party archives as well. For most organizations, this means that Office 365’s discovery capabilities will only be part of the picture, and a more comprehensive eDiscovery solution may be required to consolidate all of an organization’s data in one location for preservation and review.

  1. How much do you need to search and how fast do you need to search it?

In discovery, it is often about scalability. While Microsoft has removed or increased prior limitations, Office 365 is not designed for large-scale searches of multiple concurrent matters. Because searches within Office 365 are processed in batches, they can take longer to deliver results and can slow down system performance. It is important to understand when the native search functionality will suffice and when a different product, with a greater ability to scale to meet the needs of the discovery activity, may be required.

  1. Are you getting everything?

Office 365 indexes most Microsoft file types, but is it capturing the needed information? Unfortunately, there are some limitations, such as the ability to index large Excel spreadsheets, image and audio files, password-protected or encrypted files and non-office formats, meaning that Office 365 search results may not include all responsive documents.

How to Fill the Gaps

As businesses increasingly adopt Office 365, they will need to determine whether to use its native eDiscovery and information governance features and, if so, how to fill the gaps with more mature and robust solutions. Next week, Consilio and Nuix are offering a complimentary half-day seminar on “eDiscovery and Information Governance in Office 365: Implications and Opportunities.” On August 24, we will be speaking in San Francisco, and on August 25, we will be in Cupertino, California. For more information about these seminars and to register, please click here.