eDiscovery Data Analyst

eDiscovery Data Analyst

So what does an eDiscovery Data Analyst do and what does it take to be one?!  Just a couple of the most common questions that pops into someone's head when they hear or read the title of "eDiscovery Data Analyst".

A Simple Work on File Metadata

When I started using a personal computer as a student, which my brother and I have shared, one of the things on the screen I see most often is Window’s File Explorer.  I prefer the Detailed View which shows basic information of a file or folder on each line such as the name, file extension, size, date and time last modified, among other information depending on user preferences.  Back then, no information mattered to me except the file names and extensions even though other details are visible.  I was not orderly to care that MP3 files go to a folder named Music, image files to Pictures, document files to Documents and so on, hence the file names and file extensions were important.  Everything thrown-in in one large partition of the drive for all users to see.  It became difficult for my brother and I to find the files we needed.  It was unbearably stressful to find what we needed to work on, so we decided to tidy up.  We started opening each file then figured out the owner or author from the properties of the files.  Eventually we were able to organize the files in our own folders.

If it were today, I will not be stressed one bit and not because my brother and I are more organized or are using our own computers.  It is because in my many years of working on computers, either as an enthusiast or by switching jobs between eDiscovery (Electronic Discovery) and Software Development industries, I have come to know far more file properties other than file name and file extension.  Those properties are collectively known as metadata, from which the information from file properties form part of.  In eDiscovery, the file metadata is equally important as the file content.  I have since learned ways and used tools to inspect, collect, transform into data sets, and analyze file properties from large group of files.  From the organized data, I can make decisions, better yet, automate using a command line script, which files or group of files goes to which folder to clean up a messy drive partition, as was the case in the personal computer that my brother and I used to share.

A Real-World Application

The problem and solution above were quite simple from an IT (Information Technology) professional or an eDiscovery Data Analyst's perspective.  Though, imagine a company that has hundreds or even thousands of computers and devices, to be involved in litigation case, where each computer or device have tens of thousands of documents, e-mails, images, presentations, spreadsheets, social media posts, chats, etc.  The legal counsel would have millions, including potential duplicates, of electronically stored information to dig into just to find relevant information that may be useful in a particular litigation case and such could take an extremely long time.  That is where eDiscovery comes in to make things easier, faster, more efficient, and safer for data that needs privacy.
Do we even use Math at work?

As a Data Analyst, people mistake me as a math expert, specifically in Statistics and Probability.  While I did took a subject in Statistics and Probability in college as part of the curriculum, the organization we work with has tools that automate that branch of Math in eDiscovery and we only scratch the surface of the fundamentals on a regular basis.  The accumulation of information about many types of file that I have gathered through years of experience have proven to be more important in my role as an eDiscovery Data Analyst.  Expert knowledge on a specific set of files (e.g. Microsoft Office 365) may not be necessary.  In other words, a little bit of everything maybe worth a lot of something and vice-versa.  After all, we now have the Internet should we need information on a file type we did not know exists.

Will You Get by with Knowing Only as Many File Types and How They Work?

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Major in Computer.  On my third year in college, I was really interested to work in Software Development.  My first full time job after college was a Data Operator in eDiscovery, and since then, I never looked back at engineering.  Although, I may have applied some engineering discipline later in some Software Development Projects.  As a Data Operator in eDiscovery, we use a software to process the files and metadata then save into a database as records.  SQL queries were part of our workflows.  I also started to learn advanced scripting in a command line in support of our processes.

After more than three years as a Data Operator and Team Leader, I switched jobs to Software Development that continued for almost five years.  Then, CsteMs Inc. offered me the Data Analyst Position, which in my view, is suitable for a work-life balance and favorable working conditions.  I do not write SQL statements anymore as much as I used to when I was a Data Operator and Software Developer.  The tools and software we use nowadays provides the means to pull data based off conditions provided to us.  Now to answer the question if one could get by with knowing only about as many file types, what applications use them, or how they work, the answer is NO.  An eDiscovery Data Analyst may not know basic SQL, but understanding of the fundamentals of database logic is necessary as one would have to combine logical searches on a regular basis, where results can vary depending on search terms, logical operators, and/or logical groupings.

I have learned about logical operators and conditions from way back in college having attended several subjects in Discrete Math and Logic Circuits, even before I took subjects in Software Development.  Then it was further enhanced by using SQL as an eDiscovery Data Operator.  Could I have learned conditional logic if not for those subjects and experience in SQL?  Yes, I believe I could… anyone could.  I could have taken up Accountancy in college and picked up an SQL book for past time reading and learned it all just the same.  Could I have known more about file metadata if I did not work in Information Technology?  The answer is “yes” again!  I could have put up a small retail business and would have used a computer extensively to solve problems, or even for entertainment purposes.  I could have bought a small piece of land in the province and have settled in farming and be a computer and electronics enthusiast at the same time.

The bottom line is people that worked full time jobs on industries other than Information Technology have a chance to be part of our team if one has a certain degree of proficiency with Computer and Electronic Data.  Of course, there are other important skills that a person can improve upon by working in a corporate environment, one of which is communicating with colleagues effectively.  Communication skills are equally important as the technical skills needed in this line of work.  Furthermore, attention to details is a quality one must already have or at least improve upon.

The "analyst" in Data Analyst

When we think of workflows, flowcharts, or procedures, we tend to think "fool proof" or "perfect" processes.  At least the people who design those methods try to be, or at the very least, aims to be and even they will agree that they may not have anticipated all the possible situations that may come up.  Every now and then, we encounter something new or different, the processes do not go accordingly, or the output is unexpected.  That is why "detective work or the analysis" is a relatively large part of what we do, where knowledge of how different file types work, skills in querying, transformation, and interpretation of data sets are all essential.

Do You Have Other Skills?

As with any other job, the more skills you can contribute to the team, the better.  Since the challenges that come up seems endless, one can find opportunities to use other skills, knowledge, or experience to solve problems.  If you have been reading up to this part, it is obvious that this job is technical in nature, so people with skills and experience in Information Technology have a clear advantage.  However, efforts for self-improvement are always welcome and one can always learn from other team members.

Our Differences Help Solve Problems

I do not always have the solution to problems that comes up at work.  Our scope of work and assignments have grown, I do not know some of the workflows anymore.  Instead, our team members each bring unique experiences and skills that comes in handy when the need arises.  We continue to depend on our differences to solve problems at work and learn something new from each other.  We continue to push boundaries by taking new scope of work and assignments for improvements.

At CsteMs Inc. We Put Value to Reliability and Commitment

Our team at CsteMs, Inc. is continuously growing because the demand and scope of our work and assignments continue to grow as well.  While a high level of technical skills and quality of work is required from each one of us, our clients maintain a high level of trust because of the commitment our team demonstrates on the services we provide.  Simply put, we are reliable!


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