Hoovering the E-disclosure Marketplace

August 7, 2012

I hoovered the stairs last night. We don’t have a Hoover. I used the Sanyo Pulse and the Karcher 3.300 (thorough or what). In fact, despite many years hoovering, I don’t think we have ever owned a Hoover but, as I had to go and look to see the names of the vacuum cleaners we have now, I may well have forgotten one. As a child I was brought up to believe that brand names didn’t matter (so long as we had Eastham kitchen larder units). As I have grown older, I have learned that they do – pull up outside a swanky hotel in a Rolls, and then in a Kia, if you don’t believe me – but they matter because other people care not because I do.

But people don’t always care – and the main players in e-disclosure should sit up and take notice of the fact. E-disclosure seems to have become like some sort of high school changing room with one kid swearing that his Adidas Gazelles are way cooler than your Nike Air Jordans and the really cool kids swanning past in their Converse and their Vans. They are all trainers incidentally – I appreciate that not all readers are as hip as I am. And I expect that even the most impassioned person in the Nike marketing department is prepared to admit that their products for feet are trainers (or sneakers if you must), even if the admission will inevitably be preceded by a five-minute paen of praise that tells you that they are ‘so much more than that’.

But in the e-disclosure field, we do not even seem to have a generic term that the numerous suppliers can agree on. When {i}Da Silva{/i} first hit, I thought ‘predictive coding’ was it, but it seems Recommind are laying claim to that. Intelligent review technology? Kroll are claiming that phrase. Computer assisted review (CAR) and technology assisted review (TAR) may be clear of trade marks but I expect that there is somebody out there who is about to tell me different – and they are pretty inadequate terms anyway. It must surely have dawned on suppliers that they all will benefit if the message that this generic technology is worthwhile gets across. Judging from the marketing budgets and the persuasive efforts of all the many authors on the subject, it is well understood. So why is it hard to understand that a multiplicity of handles for the technology is causing confusion and setting back their cause? Differentiate your products by championing their {i}particular{/i} virtues in the normal way. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can become the Hoover of e-disclosure technology nor muddy the waters by confusing those you are trying to persuade to adopt the technology. Win the generic war first and fight the supplier battle in a different way later.

It strikes me that I need a policy for SCL items on the web site from now on so as to avoid ongoing confusion. Tempted though I am to follow the Hoover principle and just call them all predictive coding, I am mindful that the ‘publish and be damned’ approach was the Duke of Wellington’s – and I am no Wellington. So I am going to call all these clever and useful systems ‘e-disclosure technology’ until an accepted name emerges. And if that is equivalent to equating Air Jordans with Dunlop Greenflash so be it. It won’t be my fault.

Of course, if you know of evidence of a better generic name, accepted by all major experts, I would be delighted to hear of it.