Which File Analytics Products Should You Use?

In a previous post, I outlined the three questions you should ask before doing a file analytics project. In this post, I’m going to go into a little more detail on the second question “Why am I doing it?” and suggest some of the solutions most appropriate for what you’re trying to do. I’m assuming that you’re most likely interested in focusing on unstructured information (documents) and structured information (databases), both on-premise and off-premise (in the cloud).

First, answer the question "Why do you want to run a file analytics project?" with either a specific business scenario in mind, or a high-level objective.

Here are some observations, based on file analytics scenarios we’ve seen with our various consulting clients:

  • Risk management is the most common objective for doing file analytics. Most organizations which do it are trying to improve risk control and compliance, information security and privacy, or records management.
  • Business efficiency optimization is actually necessary or desirable in almost all enterprise content management (ECM) initiatives, but is not effectively addressed by most vendors or people trying to do it. Conducting file analysis is the first step toward the content cleanup and reorganization that can improve the efficiency of business processes which rely on the repositories at issue.
  • IT optimization is almost always an objective to some degree in all file analysis projects, but the purest IT optimization objective for file analysis is to improve storage management for IT operational efficiency and to lower total cost of ownership.
  • Strategic objective optimization is a mixed bag. Sometimes file analysis projects chasing this objective can be relatively straightforward, as in the case of optimization happening in the wake of mergers, acquisitions, or divestitures; but sometimes they can be difficult to execute or identify clear ROI, as with value analytics (which also is primarily for structured data rather than documents).

Having identified the objective of your file analytics initiative, here’s a list of business scenarios corresponding to each objective, and a short list of the file analytics software solutions that will do the best job of meeting the requirements for each set of scenarios. Note that there are plenty of players in this market space. I've listed the leaders in the various categories, for each of the general objectives. (Editor's note: Table updated November 2019).

Objective and Scenario

General Objective

Product Short List

Sensitive data cleanup, of PII, PHI, PCI, or IP for information security and privacy objectives

Risk management

For security/privacy focus:
Ground Labs, STEALTHbits, Varonis, Veritas, TITUS, IBM

For RM focus:
Active Navigation, Adlib, BeyondRecognition, Exterro, Nuix
 
There’s overlap.
Migrate from legacy shared drives, SharePoint, or ECM system to O365 Risk management or IT optimization For RM focus:
Active Navigation, Adlib, BeyondRecognition, Exterro, Nuix

For security/privacy focus:
Ground Labs, STEALTHbits, Varonis, Veritas, TITUS, IBM

There’s overlap.

Perform defensible disposition and ensured retention as part of records and information management program

Risk management For RM focus:
Active Navigation, Adlib, BeyondRecognition, Exterro, Nuix

For security/privacy focus:
Ground Labs, STEALTHbits, Varonis, Veritas, TITUS, IBM

There’s overlap.

Organize business documents for migration or optimization of business processes

Business process optimization Active Navigation, Adlib, BeyondRecognition, Exterro, Nuix

Do value analytics on structured data in order to feed it to a BI tool

Business process or strategic objective optimization HPE, IBM, ZL Technologies

Respond to an e-discovery trigger event such as a subpoena

Risk management Exterro, Nuix

Respond to an investigation or audit

Risk management For records-type compliance:
Exterro, Nuix

For security or privacy:
Ground Labs, STEALTHbits, Varonis, Veritas, TITUS, IBM

There’s overlap.

Respond to an M&A or divestiture

Strategic objective optimization Active Navigation, Adlib, BeyondRecognition, Exterro, Nuix

How to Select Enterprise Software

Rich Medina
Rich Medina
I’m a Principal Consultant and co-founder of Doculabs, and the resident expert in using ECM for information lifecycle management.