The Millennial Impact on eDiscovery
According to the Census, there are over 83 million millennials in the US, making up over ¼ of the nation’s population. The growth of this demographic has made an inevitable impact on the number of millennials currently in the workforce. By the year 2020, millennials will account for 46% of the workforce.
There have been many articles written about this sometimes misunderstood generation, how to communicate with them, what is important to them, and what they want to contribute to the world. While those details are important, this blog will focus is on how the millennial generation has, and will continue to impact the discovery landscape.
For a generation born in the digital age, electronic communications are preferred over face to face conversations or phone calls. A key component that millennials are looking for in a workspace is access to top up to date technology that can help them thrive. Companies are deploying applications that allow for conversations without the need for human interaction. Facilitating a collaborative dialogue in a format and environment that is familiar and in line with the way millennials prefer to communicate, both at work and on their mobile devices, simulates a constant connection and can demonstrate their contribution in the work place.
In order to attract millennials, companies are encouraged to develop and adopt technology designed to increase productivity and collaboration. Companies that use Slack, a cloud based team collaboration tool, can reduce their internal email by an average of 48.6%, however, reducing internal email by 48.6% is also generating Slack data. Some people have claimed to have eliminated internal email use all together, which means that identifying and capturing communications that could be essential to discovery would not be included in traditional network and server collections, or workstation imaging.
As a result, eDiscovery service providers are seeing more requests to assist with data from dynamic internet and Wiki sites, shared documents, Slack, WhatsApp, Text, and other social media platforms and cloud based applications. The technology required to enhance productivity and efficiency in the workplace has created additional data sources. While this is a result of growth, innovation and development - corporations, outside counsel, and vendors should prepare for and be aware of these data sources and how they can impact discovery:
- Corporations: Consider your Information Governance, Compliance, Privacy & Social Media Policies. It is essential to collaborate cross departmentally and with IT on the tools and technology that your company deploys and establish data retention and deletion protocols around these tools. It starts with awareness.
- Outside Counsel: Ask your clients and custodians how they are communicating and collaborating at work. Messaging applications can be considered informal and are often overlooked, when the reality is that these applications are the main form of communication for some key departments.
- Service Providers: Understand the collection process around these applications, what information can be gathered, collaborate with IT, and sometimes directly with the service providers to determine the exports and reports that are available from these tools and then consult your clients on efficient workflows to review this data.
Millennials aren’t the only demographic using these tools and applications, but they are influencing the adoption rate in the work place. Spending an average of 3.5 hours a day on their mobile devices alone, they account for a significant percentage of the 200,000 Instagram posts and almost 300,000 Tweets that go out every minute and will continue to contribute to the growing 2.5 quintillion bytes of data that is generated daily. As technology advances, the demand for faster and better tools and applications that are integrated with your social media and work based applications are not only creating additional data sources, they are also blurring the lines between personal and professional communications.
Companies who proactively identify and address alternative data sources by implementing internal policies and protocols will be ahead of the game and can significantly limit their exposure to risk and reduce costs related to eDiscovery.