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Chris Brown, Relativity: “cloud-based solutions are quickly becoming the standard”


Big chunks of data do not only complicate operational processes but also present significant security risks to businesses. However, there are solutions to help organize and protect sensitive details.

Large volumes of data, piles of information, and thousands of files lying dormant - some of many organizational problems companies have to deal with. Thankfully, there are tools that can help effectively manage, secure, and organize all that material, such as RelativityOne.

We reached out to Chris Brown, Chief Product Officer at Relativity, to find out more about the solutions they offer and their outlook on e-discovery.

Launched in 2001, Relativity has grown into a successful company that operates from various locations around the world and serves thousands of users. How did the idea of Relativity come to life?

In 2001, Andrew Sieja founded a small software consulting firm that has since grown into Relativity, a market-leading, global legal and compliance technology company. Relativity has a green couch in its reception area that has famously been at the company since it resided in founder Andrew Sieja’s garage when the company was first founded. The message over the couch is simple and reflects the general attitude of the company:

“We built our business on this couch. We bought it for twenty-five bucks at a garage sale so we would have something comfortable to sit on. It has been a bed, a break room, a waiting room, a think tank, and even an intern’s desk. The couch was also in many early conference rooms and has participated in hundreds–if not thousands–of meetings, all-nighters, strategy sessions, and late-night deployment parties. It is as steeped in Relativity history as any person. Our business models have changed, the desks have been replaced, and the computers have been upgraded, but the couch is still here.”

Today, led by CEO Mike Gamson, our global company includes more than 1,200 employees who are passionate about technology, and are continuously finding new ways to make our software more flexible, more scalable, and easier to use, so that our more than 300,000 annual users can find the truth in their data—faster.

It is evident that you take great pride in your RelativityOne and Relativity Trace solutions. Can you tell us more about both of the services?

We found a place in the industry by helping corporations, law firms, and government agencies solve diverse data challenges. Today our focus is the same: our SaaS product, RelativityOne, has become the fastest-growing product in our company’s history, providing all of the functionality our customers need in a secure and comprehensive cloud platform.

RelativityOne is an extensible cloud product backed by the power of automation and integrated artificial intelligence (AI). With RelativityOne, users can streamline their technology stack to manage large volumes of complex, unstructured data. RelativityOne helps users protect their most sensitive data and reduce risk with proactive threat prevention, 24/7 monitoring, automated security processes, and leading compliance certifications

We also offer Relativity Trace, a best-in-class communication surveillance platform that gives compliance teams full control over how they monitor risk. Compliance teams at some of the largest regulated financial, pharmaceutical, and energy organizations use Relativity Trace to proactively detect regulatory misconduct like insider trading, collusion, and other non-compliant behavior. Relativity Trace's deep surveillance capabilities leverage machine learning and AI to spot complex targeted risks. Today, it is the most globally available SaaS platform in communication surveillance – delivering the scale, and tech users can only get in the cloud. Following our recent acquisition of Text IQ, Relativity Trace will level up its AI capabilities, particularly around natural language processing and deep learning.

At Relativity, you specialize in a practice called e-discovery. Can you briefly explain what this process is about?

Electronic discovery—or e-discovery—is the challenging process of searching and analyzing electronic data during a legal proceeding or investigation. As data volumes grow exponentially and new data sources are introduced every day, legal teams have more to sort through and need an efficient way to collect, search, analyze, and produce electronic evidence.

How did the pandemic affect the legal industry? Were there any new challenges you had to adapt to?

  • Accepting digital adoption: Out of necessity, lawyers have become more technologically self-sufficient than ever before. It significantly increased cloud technology adoption and has proved just how vital end-to-end SaaS solutions are to maintaining business continuity.
  • Increased cyberattacks: Hackers are deploying some of the most sophisticated cyberattacks ever seen, and the legal industry is a primary target. Law firms and legal departments are attractive for adversaries because they handle large amounts of sensitive client information, data, and money. Relativity remains committed to protecting our customers' sensitive data.
  • Explosion in collaboration and chat data: With the nature of work becoming more collaborative across enterprise technology platforms, this data cannot continue to be analyzed like email as teams can lose valuable context and metadata unique to those platforms. That’s why this year, Relativity acquired VerQu, a data management software company that helps organizations migrate and capture communication data for record retention and compliance purposes. The integration of VerQu into Relativity's SaaS products will transform how organizations handle collaboration and chat data.
  • Accelerating the pace of innovation with AI: Adoption of AI-powered solutions is critical to decreasing time-to-review and time-of-review and helping attorneys focus on meaningful, mission-critical work for their clients. To help our customers solve a diverse set of data challenges and equip them with an even stronger AI toolset to deliver more value, Relativity acquired Text IQ, a Top 100 AI company, and plans to continue to make significant AI investments to accelerate our path to becoming an AI-fueled unstructured data management company.

Does the recent rise in cloud solutions complicate e-discovery in any way?

The rise in cloud solutions is imperative to simplifying and streamlining e-discovery. In the wake of the pandemic, there is little doubt that the cloud is the most viable way to not just survive in business today, but thrive. The e-discovery industry has shifted toward SaaS solutions built on the public cloud—most often in Microsoft Azure—for the benefits of scaling and performance, improvements in security, and access to innovation. The past year and a half have only accelerated the momentum and increased demand for cloud-based solutions driven by the ongoing shift of enterprise data to the cloud and remote work mandates. As a result, cloud-based solutions are quickly becoming the standard. Additionally, many organizations have learned that operating in the cloud is simply the safest way of conducting critical workflows around highly sensitive data for purposes like e-discovery, investigations, surveillance, and more.

From your experience, what are the most common reasons an organization might opt for e-discovery?

With the massive explosion of data and new information sources popping up every day, finding the truth buried in it all can be nearly impossible. Organizations utilize e-discovery to help them sort through the data and solve complex data problems during litigation, investigation, and compliance projects.

Besides data discovery, what other digital legal solutions do you see becoming widespread soon?

While I can’t pinpoint just one solution that will become widespread, I can say that legal solutions of the future will need to provide a seamless, secure, and intuitive user experience to have staying power — and AI is a key component to making that possible. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we recently acquired Text IQ, a pioneer in AI-powered privacy, security, and data discovery solutions.

For example, conducting privilege reviews can take thousands of hours and is prone to human error – leaving enterprises open to the risk of sharing privileged information. Text IQ’s AI-powered solution reduces the time and cost of conducting privilege document reviews by up to 75%, and significantly reduces the associated risk. Additionally, Text IQ’s AI can be used to speed up and increase the accuracy of data breach response workflows. A complete breach response is a substantial manual effort that's prone to error. Text IQ’s AI changes that and is adept at identifying information in ways that regular expressions and keyword searches often miss. These capabilities drive powerful data breach response and data subject access request solutions.

Share with us, what’s next for Relativity?

1. Global expansion: As part of Relativity's commitment to make RelativityOne and its AI-powered communication surveillance platform, Relativity Trace more accessible and to ensure Relativity's customers can continue to grow globally with their respective clients, both products are now available in 14 geographies. In 2022, Relativity plans to further expand its global footprint adding availability in Japan, France, and South Africa.

2. Investing in AI: As the volumes and complexity of unstructured data continue to increase and legal teams face demands to do more with less, we will utilize AI across Relativity to help amplify your efforts, put actionable insights at your fingertips, and enable you to tackle modern legal and compliance challenges. We’ll do this by investing in three primary areas:

  • Establishing AI cloud services and a big data layer to power the creation and optimization of thousands of machine learning models, delivering best-in-class AI capabilities available across RelativityOne, Relativity Trace, Text IQ, Relativity Patents, and more.
  • Adding and applying world-class AI talent to tackle the unique challenges in our industry, through growing teams internally and making strategic acquisitions like Text IQ.
  • Focusing heavily on the intersection of AI and UI, our user experience, and thinking critically about how we can unlock performance and empower your teams for key workflows.

3. Continued Integration for Seamless Collection of Data: Relativity's universe of available data sources will continue to rapidly expand in the coming years with added support for more virtual meeting content for apps like Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Google Meet. Relativity will also support more cloud storage solutions like Box and SharePoint and messaging solutions popular in financial services like Bloomberg and archives like Proofpoint.

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