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Friday, December 14, 2007

Top E-Discovery Software Vendors

There are two independent analyst reports identifying the top e-discovery software vendors.

The first, published in June 2007, is the Socha-Gelbmann Annual Electronic Discovery Survey. The authors, George Socha and Tom Gelbmann, probably know more about e-discovery than anyone else you are likely to meet. As someone who has filled out their 178-page survey, I can tell you it is excruciating in its detail and incredibly rigorous. According to the report, George and Tom contacted nearly 1,000 individuals and collected detailed data from 115 organizations.

The second analyst report is Gartner’s MarketScope, which is published today (December 2007). Its author, Debra Logan, is fast emerging as one of the leading lights of e-discovery and has great instincts about the market. For her report, Debra tells me that surveyed 30 vendors and checked over 90 customer references.

The results from the two reports are as follows:

Socha-Gelbmann Top Software Vendors (1) Gartner Top Software Vendors (2)
CT SummationGuidance
FTIIron Mountain/Stratify
ISYS Search SoftwareKroll
Zantaz (now Autonomy)Orchestria
PSS Systems
(1) Companies listed as “Top Electronic Discovery Software Providers Based on 7 Criteria” (Table 19 and 20), listed in alphabetical order. (2) Companies awarded ratings of “Positive” or “Strong Positive” (Figure 1), listed in alphabetical order.

Why are the lists so different? Primarily because of two main factors:
  1. Gartner’s list mixes service providers and software companies whereas Socha breaks them out separately. The Socha report has an entirely separate list for service providers.

  2. Socha’s report was completed 6 months earlier than Gartner’s. In that intervening period, several new players entered the e-discovery market. For example, Kazeon was ranked by Gartner earlier this year a “niche player” (lower left quadrant) in the enterprise search market, and has not been in e-discovery long enough to participate in the Socha study (or, if they did participate, they did not have enough e-discovery customers to gain a high ranking).

The first conclusion to draw from these lists is that any vendor not in them is probably not worth considering for e-discovery. If neither Socha nor Gartner ranked them highly, then the vendor either could not provide compelling customer references or has lost competitive bake-offs to someone who is on the list. Either way, they are best avoided.

The second thing that stands out is how different these lists are. Of the 21 vendors identified by Socha and Gartner, only 5 are ranked as top e-discovery software vendors by both of them. Those 5 are Attenex, Clearwell, FTI, Guidance, and LexisNexis. So, if you are an enterprise looking for an e-discovery solution, it is clear who you should call first.

Finally, it is worth noting that both these analyst reports are relatively new. This is the third annual survey for Socha, and the first MarketScope for Gartner. That speaks to the fact that e-discovery software is a new, fast-growing product area. More and more enterprises are adopting e-discovery software solutions, and asking analysts about them, because they offer such a compelling ROI.


Top8 said...

After Socha and Gelbmann posted their response, I feel encouraged to ask a question. Should one always listen to the top 5-10 songs on the list? Read the top 5 books? And, echoing Socha and Gelbmann, use the top 5 software products from the list, regardless of one's situation?

George Socha & Tom Gelbmann said...

We appreciate the attention paid to our survey results in Aaref Hilaly's Dec. 14, 2007 blog entry, "Top E-Discovery Software Vendors" posted on e-discovery 2.0.

We disagree, however, with the conclusions.

We do not agree with the first set of conclusions:

1. That any vendor nor in the lists "is not worth considering for e-discovery";
2. That vendors not on either list "are best avoided"; and
3. That the results show that "if you are an enterprise looking for an e-discovery solution, it is clear who you should call first."

While we cannot speak for Gartner, we certainly speak for ourselves. In a September 26, 2007 posting to EDD Update, we sought to debunk a few misconceptions about the results of our surveys. One of those misconceptions was "I need to hire an electronic discovery provider. I want the best. All I need to do is choose someone off the Socha-Gelbmann list." We said, "Stop right there and start over. You do not really want some abstract 'best'; you want the best for you in a particular situation." For the full posting, go to:


We have a similar disclaimer posted where we post our survey results at:


That disclaimer states:

As with any top-X list, it is important to keep these lists in context and use them only as appropriate. You should not choose a provider based solely on these lists, or solely on the basis of any other top-X list. The factors we examined may not apply to your circumstances, and mostly likely will not apply with the specific weightings and ratings we used. In addition, you will have needs and considerations we could not have taken into account.

It also is important to note that our evaluation model relies heavily on information provided through interviews or questionnaires (spreadsheets). We recognize that there are other vendors with the qualifications to rank within the top X, however the data on them was not available to us. Some providers, including prominent ones, did not provide any data and others, including prominent ones, provided only limited information.

By the way, the 2007 Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey was our fifth annual survey, not our third.


George Socha
Tom Gelbmann

Aaref Hilaly said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have responded here: http://clearwellsystems.blogspot.com/2007/12/top-e-discovery-software-vendors_18.html