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Urban legend metric on e-mail analysis costs for discovery?

Some numbers cry out for scrutiny. One, pertaining to e-mail, jolted me in the sidebar of an article on electronic discovery, published in September 2005 by Corporate Counsel and in a December advertisement from an electronic discovery vendor.

$4.6 billion. The amount in dollars that U.S. companies will spend internally in 2005 to analyze e-mails.”

A press release from MetaLINCS, dated Aug. 22, 2005, , states, “Email has become the #1 source of evidence in investigations, comprising more than half of all case evidence, according to Kahn Consulting. This year alone, companies will spend over $4.6 billion in expenses related to email analysis. Analysis is the most critical aspect of the E-Discovery process…” No one from the PR firm for MetaLINCS has responded to my telephone call and e-mail asking for support of this statement.

I searched the web repeatedly for the source of this humongous number, and only succeeded in finding that the figure is a commonly cited one for the projected spending by US companies in 2003 on e-mail marketing [see].

I did learn that Socha Consulting surveyed the domestic US commercial electronic-discovery market in 2004, and estimated that its revenues totaled $832.5 million. Now, that is external spending, whereas the quoted figure also purports to include internal spend.