James Merritt, managing consultant with CCL's Discovery & Disclosure team, offers a personal view on why he considers Relativity is still leading the way when it comes to document review platforms - and that it's not always to do with the tech.
The journey for Relativity has been a long one and every so often key landmarks have elevated or maintained its journey to/at the top of the pyramid for document review platforms. The purpose of this blog post is to identify why it is still top dog.
Relativity started out life as a software consulting firm in 2001 called kCura; its product was called kStore Explorer. The first Relativity platform was released in 2006 before becoming focused purely on eDiscovery software in 2007. In 2009 the review platform of choice was Concordance and Relativity became an open platform allowing partners to use it and sell direct to end clients.
Relativity has become a worldwide application and community, and this is one of the strong foundations of the firm, the community. There is a home for users to collaborate and educate themselves in the use of Relativity. For some it is an opportunity to further their careers by gaining much needed industry qualifications, for others it’s a driving force to become a certified master. One of the highlights of the conferencing year is Relativity Fest and this was started in 2010 in Chicago and has become a yearly affair with an additional event staged in London.
kCura rebranded the firm as Relativity in 2017, in order to be one brand rather than operate as kCura and sell Relativity.
"People in the legal community around the world know us as Relativity, and that's a testament to the great work our team, our partners, and our community, put into making the platform better every day," said Andrew Sieja, founder, and Chairman of Relativity. "Combining the two brands into one just makes sense."
Aside from just the review platform Relativity has additional products such as Trace, Collect and Processing.
Relativity has designed the review platform up so that it is easy to use. A new user should be up and running inside of ten minutes as they should be provided with access to only what they need and therefore they are not distracted by additional features. This is a small thing, but it makes a big impact on a user. If you feel you can get to grips with an application in a short space of time it builds confidence and as you grow more confident in using it, you want to gain more access to the platform. To help a user build their knowledge Relativity has an outstanding education portal with several exams covering the various products that make up Relativity.
In 2018 Relativity launched RelativityOne, its SaaS-based solution. All new Relativity partners can only access this version of Relativity and the server-side solution is only available to existing partners. Despite this Relativity has continued to flourish, constantly evaluating its pricing model to make sure it is not left trailing its competitors.
The main competition to Relativity comes in the form of Nuix and Reveal. Nuix has built the leading processing engine, Nuix Workstation. In September 2018 Nuix bought Ringtail from FTI Consulting for $55 million and has since rebranded it to Nuix Discover. Though the two products are not connected if you have a server instance, like with RelativityOne, Nuix Discover allows the ingestion and basic processing on a much-slimmed down scale.
Nuix leads the way when it comes to processing, but in my opinion Nuix Discover falls short on the review front. There is a lot more to Nuix than just Workstation and Discover, they have a strong product suite that helps tackle security, risk and compliance as well as Information Governance. The Nuix “Engine” is the backbone of the company’s product range along with its strong analytics.
Reveal is a relative newcomer, or so it feels, though it has been around since 2011; but has certainly made waves over the last twelve months with two acquisitions, firstly of NexLP in August 2020 and most recently Brainspace in January 2021. The Reveal platform already had some great features, such as the image tagging. By targeting the Analytics (AI) legal marketspace it has certainly brought Reveal to the table. Brainspace is widely used by users of both Relativity and Nuix, so with Reveal acquiring this technology it could be a game changer for them.
What does this mean for Relativity and why is it still top of the tree when it comes to review platforms? It will keep on investing and will be invested in, as shown by the recent Silver Lake investment. It will keep on developing the product range. The strength of Relativity isn’t just how good the product stack is, but it is how good the team behind the product stack is, from the account managers such as Tom Alexander, to their solutions consultants such as Steve Rodriguez to their development team. An example of how good the team at Relativity are is when I worked on a case in an offshore jurisdiction four hours behind the UK, I needed assistance with how to set something up and run it in Relativity (7.4), I had not been a user for long and so I raised a ticket with support. Paul Gordon picked that ticket up and made himself available well outside of the UK office hours until I was back up and running. He checked in the following day when he was on leave in Germany to make sure that everything was on track. I cannot tell you enough how valuable that is, to both the business but most of all the customer.
I was privileged enough to have a short meeting with CEO Mike Gamson recently and as a customer I cannot tell you how good it felt that you had the ear of the man who runs this billion-dollar company. I felt like I was being listened to and for that 30 minutes I had centre stage. Little things like this help keep Relativity at the top.
In conclusion, whilst there are areas of the Relativity product stack that need to improve to catch up with its competitors, such as Processing, the Review platform and the team behind the review platform are a leading light. For sure, Relativity will only get stronger in all areas and it will get stronger because companies like Nuix and Reveal will drive them to improve."