Chris Plauschinn began his career in the technology realm with Commonwealth Legal before it was acquired by Ricoh in 2014. Now the Director of Cloud and Infrastructure Solutions, Chris oversees both the public and private cloud infrastructure that powers the software solutions offered by Ricoh Canada.
We recently spoke with Chris about how his career in IT developed with the demands of the growing eDiscovery industry, his predictions about the future and why it’s important to maintain a “healthy amount of skepticism” about new technology.
1. Tell us about how you got to where you are now.
I started at Commonwealth Legal in 2003, after having worked in records management. At the time, our business took binders and boxes of paper documents and created databases for lawyers. This was back in a day when you’d see lawyers walking around with carts of boxes — the thought of digitalizing documents seemed foreign to just about anybody working in the legal field.
What intrigued me about eDiscovery was that it pushed toward a technology-based future. Over the past two decades, I’ve grown with the industry; as we expanded on our offerings, I developed professionally alongside it. Starting in project and operations management, I eventually went into IT. For the last several years, I led the IT department for Ricoh eDiscovery and have recently taken on the role of Director of Cloud and Infrastructure Solutions for Ricoh Canada.
2. What are the biggest challenges for your clients?
Two things: data size and data structure, or lack thereof. When it comes to data size, the amount of data we’re generating these days is astonishing. All you have to do is look at peoples’ inboxes to see they’re hosting thousands of emails they no longer need. In our industry, this problem becomes especially challenging when clients deal with litigation events. With huge amounts of data, comes a huge number of documents that need to be sorted through. The best way to avoid holding too much data is by enforcing data retention policies which allow employees to only hold a certain amount of data at a time or only hold onto data for a prescribed timeframe, saving both time and money should litigation arise.
As for data structure, it’s important that data is categorized in a strategic manner. You are going to have a really tough time if you have to perform a collection and your documents are disorganized. Either, you’ll have to go to every single custodian and talk to them about what they’ve been saving and how, or you’ll have to over-collect which can get expensive. Data identification tools like ActiveNav can be a great solution to help organizations gain insight into their data, and information management tools like LaserFiche can be a great solution to help keep it organized, contained and compliant.
3. What technology or solution excites you the most about the future?
I’m interested in the future of subscription-based everything. This trend started with music and movies for the most part with accounts like Spotify and Netflix where you’re paying a provider to grant you access to a large volume of content, but you never actually own any of it. The minute you stop paying, you no longer have access.
At Ricoh, we were early adopters of this model. We moved from a place where we bought hardware to where we now often subscribe. The public cloud, for example, offers the ability to adjust our footprint in minutes rather than weeks. You only pay for what is consumed and can add features, like security and redundancy, that otherwise could be cost-prohibitive. I believe the next generation of this model will be subscribing to our own personal desktops. Dissociating the compute layer from the delivery window allows for tighter controls with an environment being available on any screen.
4. What's next for you in supporting the success of the industry?
I will go where the technology goes. Ultimately, that means I will continue to make sure I understand the advances as they come along, that I can explain them and, hopefully, lead to the embrace of that technology by both those within our organization as well as externally. By being an early adopter of new technology, it ensures that we change with the times, stay as agile as possible and have a say in what progresses and what disappears.
5. What advice would you have for someone working in the field?
Approach everything — both processes and new technology — with an open mind but also with a healthy amount of skepticism. Change for change’s sake does not necessarily make things better. Evaluate each update with a “what can this do for us?” and “is there anything we’re giving up to get this” mindset.
Thank you, Chris, for taking the time to speak with us. To read Chris’s past blog articles on data security and privacy, click here.
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