Case Study: Making E-discovery an Internal Function
NBC Universal saw requests for e-discovery services soar in just a few years. The company's CISO, Jonathan Chow, knew there had to be a more efficient and cost-effective way to handle it
By Joan Goodchild , Senior Editor
March 29, 2010 — CSO —
NBC Universal is one of the largest media and entertainment companies in the world. Chief Information Security Officer Jonathan Chow and his team manage information security for several business lines within NBCU, including its broadcast and cable television to film production, online ventures and its two theme parks in Hollywood, California and Orlando, Florida. Among one of the biggest challenges in the last few years has been the incredible explosion in demand for e-discovery services, according to Chow.
Since different legal teams handle the needs of each line of business, the workflows associated with managing electronic discovery vary as well, adding another layer of complexity. And because of the growing number of cases, and increases in both the amount of electronically stored information and hours spent supporting the process, demand for e-discovery services has increased 30 to 50 percent annually. The costs were spiraling out of control and this sent Chow looking for a way to manage the process internally.
Chow spoke to CSO about how NBCU tackled the costly and time-consuming process and turned it into a cost-effective and more efficient system that has seen a 40-45 percent gain efficiency since its implementation.
What was the electronic-discovery process like at NBCU when you first took over the CISO role?
Jonathan Chow:Back when I took over the job in 2004-2005, the demand for e-discovery was actually pretty low. I would say we handled a handful of cases each year. It was mostly ad hoc. If it were something really small, we would tell our legal team: 'Sure, this is something we can help you with.' But more often than not, back in those days, the collections were done by our external counsel.
But with an organization our size; the sheer number of locations, the sheer numbers of people and the volumes of data we process, anytime one of these outside firms would come in and say: 'I've got to do a collection,' I would have to dedicate one of my resources to sit with that person and provide them with credentials and say 'Ok, you have to get this off of this server, here are a couple of machines, here's how to obtain this email.' (Read about how one organization took on data mapping to make e-discovery easier)
After doing this a few times, and anecdotally hearing how much it cost from our legal team, we thought to ourselves 'We've been sitting with these people, we've seen what they do and it doesn't look very complicated. All we need is a bit of training for process purposes and we need the right tools. '