Will new tools augment SharePoint 2016 e-discovery?

The newest on-premises version of SharePoint includes updated e-discovery tools for hybrid search and managing unstructured data.

Microsoft is making some major changes to E-discovery with SharePoint 2016, which should make it easier to locate crucial documents when searching hybrid deployments and unstructured data repositories. 

Improving hybrid performance is among Microsoft's stated goals for SharePoint 2016, and one result was a reworking of the search indexes to allow for better Office 365 integration. Microsoft has been talking about this primarily regarding improved search results and the ability to expose content through Delve. But these new indexes have implications for e-discovery as well.

Historically, SharePoint e-discovery has taken weeks, but the newest iteration is expected to be much faster (it’s almost instantaneous, by some accounts). SharePoint 2016 e-discovery will also be able to work across product lines and geographic boundaries, able to analyze content stored in Microsoft Exchange Server, Lync, and file servers, both on-premises and in Office 365.

In the event that a legal hold is required for discovered content, an in-place hold can be used to preserve information. In that scenario, Exchange Server data would remain on Exchange Server, while SharePoint data would continue to reside on SharePoint Server. The process would be transparent to the end user.

The most significant improvement to the e-discovery process involves a new capability for managing unstructured data called Zoom. Zoom makes intelligent decisions about the data that needs to be included in an e-discovery case, thereby reducing manual labor and legal expenses.

Zoom uses analytics to automate a process that once required legal departments to use ad hoc analysis and keyword queries to find relevant data. It also eliminates redundant data, such as multiple e-mail messages from a common discussion thread. The end result is structured data that is easier to analyze.

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