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Uncovering the Smoking Gun with data-driven investigations

­­Data is no longer just information – it is overwhelmed by noise. The immense volume and various sources of data available today, store a treasure trove of information which may present challenges when it comes to investigations – but it also has the potential to offer deeper data-driven insights. All you need to know is where to look.


Acquiring defensible and complete data is crucial to any investigation. This makes finding the smoking gun in your investigations – the irrefutable evidence – simpler and more effective. This is achieved by having an understanding of the key issues of the investigation and all data available in the organisation, sound data governance, and embracing the right technology to handle data with flexibility, scalability, and efficiency.


1. Understanding the Key Issues of the Investigations


In any investigation, the integral aim is to refute or establish an alleged wrongdoing. Whilst there is a need for urgency to respond to an investigation, strategic planning is key in reducing any chances of error or mishandling of data along the way. Specifically, when dealing with volatile electronic data, a clear understanding of the crux of the investigation and data landscape is required to ensure data integrity. In essence, the specifics of the matter must be identified to decide the best way forward and to thoughtfully plan how to preserve and protect the data.

When commencing investigations, it is important to consider POLE analytics – the connections linking People, Objects, Locations and Events inherent in all data – to establish patterns, trends, and anomalies. To begin, the following questions may be considered:


  • Who is involved?

  • What happened?

  • When did it take place?

  • Where did it take place?

  • Why did it happen?

  • How did it happen?

  • What are the key issues in the investigation?

  • What are the consequences/potential consequences from the alleged wrongdoing?

  • What is the intended outcome of the investigations?

  • What data is needed?

  • How should the relevant data be acquired?

  • Can the relevant data be tampered or destroyed?


These considerations may prove helpful in investigations as it enables an organisation to adopt a methodical and targeted approach to identify, acquire, and review data. This is especially crucial in investigations concerning high-volume data, spreading across multiple data sources and custodians.


2. Data Governance


To maintain the defensibility and completeness of data, it is important to put in place best practices for data governance. Whilst the goal of investigations is to unveil key facts to refute or establish the alleged wrongdoing, acquiring an abundance or insufficient data may pose setbacks which could consequently increase costs and reduce the efficiency and accuracy of investigations. A centralised and finely tuned process is needed to ensure all data relevant to the investigations is acquired.


This can be achieved by good data governance through the collaborative effort of key stakeholders, legal, risk, IT, and cybersecurity across the organisation. A sound data governance approach together with the clear understanding of what and where data is stored within the organisation provides the ability to make informed daily decisions to ensure business continuity. This allows an organisation to better prepare themselves in the event of any investigations, as essential electronic data can be securely archived and preserved, thereby reducing the risk of data being inadvertently destroyed.


3. Leveraging Technology


When reviewing and analysing data in investigations, the aim is to gain insights while organising data efficiently to uncover the key facts of the investigation. With the significant developments in search technologies that go beyond traditional keyword searching, as well as data storage, database, and advanced analytics features available today, it is useful to leverage technology to manage immense data volumes and streamline the investigation process. As there is no universal solution that caters to every investigation, the techniques and approach adopted will vary based on the requirements of the matter.


To ensure its capabilities remain up to date, organisations should choose flexible solutions that allow scalability when required, to quickly mitigate risks and enable cost-savings in the long run. Utilising the appropriate technology allows the organisation to be informed of patterns and trends available within the data, and easily piece together information through features such as communication mapping, and data analytics. The benefits of leveraging on technology goes beyond greater efficiency and cost-savings and extends to ensuring that the organisation can strategically and intentionally plan against any reoccurrence of similar issues and avoid any future potential risks or vulnerability.


By understanding the key issues of the investigation and all data available in the organisation, implementing good data governance, and leveraging appropriate technology, an organisation can quickly and effectively find the smoking gun among the abundance of information.


If you need help with your investigation, please feel free to consult the LegalComet team from Rajah & Tann Technologies. LegalComet offers a holistic approach that combines proven processes, AI technology, and a team with multidisciplinary expertise to uncover the truth in your data in a speedy and cost-efficient manner.


Uncovering the Smoking Gun with data-driven investigations
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