Six days after the kick off to the Q2 Leadership Breakfast Series in New York, David Cowen, Barclay Blair (Principal and Founder of ViaLumina) and I found ourselves at the City Club in Washington , DC. The group was a bit smaller, but the 30+ attendees were no less the thought leaders we found in New York. The topic remained the same, “Big Data: An Emerging Influencer for eDiscovery, Compliance & Information Governance Careers,” but the conversation was a much different style than in New York. This was largely due to the fact that we had a secret weapon this time. We had already had this conversation once, and we teed up Washington in a much better manner taking the learning from the first go-around.

cloudcupWe discovered asking “What is Big Data?” is too broad. In an attempt to tighten the question and ultimately get to an answer, we reframed the question and asked: “What does Big Data mean to you?” We provided three options to the group: Risk, Cost, or Value. While most attendees initially raised their hand to only one of these options, I do not think there was anyone in the room that felt comfortable being pinned down by just one of them. We all recognized that each option competes for Big Data. The struggle comes in when attempting to quantify Big Data against them. The ultimate goals of the organization will place Risk, Cost or Value above the other, but setting out a plan and ROI to impact them is at times elusive. How you do you quantify this ROI, or as Steve Berrent of WilmerHale asked “How do you get a cloud in a cup and distill it down to a PowerPoint presentation?”

Adi Elliott of kCura has said multiple times during the Leadership Breakfasts in New York and Washington, DC that the best traction to the ROI goal is to show small tangible wins. The conversation ended with taking this thought one step further and stepping back to look at the big picture. The first step is asking what the goal is specific to the organization. Balancing the Risk, Cost, and Value of that goal and taking small bites at the apple. A few small bites, and small wins, translate to a PowerPoint presentation to argue for a chance to take a larger bite.

hatsThe last larger talking point that wove its way through the conversation looks at this from a career standpoint. Could this be the birth of a new profession, a Chief Data Officer (CDO)? This person would have to manage the multiple and sometimes competing goals of Risk, Cost, and Value as it relates to Big Data. The group determined the significant skill set needed for success in the role, wearing the hats of a marketer, technologist, sales person, ambassador and data scientist. The trend appears to be that more organizations are treating big data like an asset. So, we in the eDiscovery space, who have been talking about, working with, and analyzing Big Data for years, may be in the perfect place to capitalize on this trend and bring positive impact to an origination.

Next stop, Chicago (at least I don’t have to get on a plane).


bolandMichael Boland is the Managing Director for Drinker Discovery Solutions, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP. Drinker Discovery Solutions, LLC provides full life cycle eDiscovery consulting, technology, and project management services. In his current role, Michael has full managerial responsibility, operational control, and oversight of Drinker Discovery Solutions, LLC. DDS works with Drinker Biddle & Reath clients as well as external non-firm clients to identify, preserve, collect, process, review, and produce data for use in adversarial proceedings. The DDS philosophy is to simplify eDiscovery and bring clients cost effective solutions by leveraging leading technology and processes driven by top tier project management.

Mr. Boland has worked for eDiscovery vendors, boutique and national consulting companies, practiced law relating to eDiscovery matters as well as worked in a consultative and project management capacity with AmLaw firms and Fortune 500 corporate legal departments.

Mr. Boland is a member of the American Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar. Michael received a BA from the University of Notre Dame, a JD from Golden Gate University and an MBA from the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University.

For more information about attending or sponsoring a TCG Event, contact The Cowen Group at 212-661-0025 or

Share This