A Q&A session with Douglas Herman, BDO Consulting Principal, Forensic Technology Services
Doug, you bring to BDO a great deal of technical experience surrounding computer science and engineering. Can you share a few details about your experience and work across different industries before you joined the BDO Consulting team?
I've taken a non-traditional path to Forensic Technology Services, which has provided me with unique experiences that I bring to client projects. I began my career as an aerospace engineer, but quickly moved to computer engineering during the onset of the dot-com boom. I was then fortunate to work for a number of companies that pioneered the science of e-discovery, both on the software development and consulting side of the discipline. Over the last 15 years, I’ve advised global organizations across multiple industries on issues regarding domestic and cross-border e-discovery, digital forensics and pre-litigation planning. I've ultimately spent the majority of my career in consulting because I enjoy working with clients to solve the myriad of complex forensic technology and litigation challenges they face.
Can you tell us a little bit more about what led you to focus your work on forensic technology?
While I was an engineer working on airplanes when I began my career, my transition into the field was actually quite seamless. Like engineering, forensic technology and e-discovery, in particular, rely on an in-depth knowledge of how computers work, as well as a careful and methodical approach to analyzing data and crafting actionable solutions. The opportunity to help organizations navigate this complex arena and bridge the communications gap that often exists between technology and law, both of which are continuously evolving, has kept me engaged in this work during the course of my career.
Speaking of the continuous change in our industry, how do you help clients stay ahead of the curve when it comes to their data management and e-discovery processes?
As you know, we have a team of highly credentialed and experienced, multi-disciplinary Forensic Technology professionals here at BDO, both in the U.S. and globally. Together, we bring deep experience that spans more than 15 industries, 152 countries, and disciplines including information governance, digital forensics, e-discovery, and data analytics and visualization to help companies stay abreast of and respond to the changing investigative and regulatory environment.
We're also committed to continuous education, coordinating a variety of webinar and CLE programs to ensure our clients are aware of the latest developments impacting how they prepare for and respond to investigations and litigation. Lastly, as part of our continued efforts to provide additional value to the clients we serve whether they are a law firm, large multinational corporation, or growing middle-market company to name a few, we support numerous industry organizations, including the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Association of Certified e-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), to stay ahead of the issues our clients may face in the near future.
What do you see as the most important upcoming challenges and opportunities surrounding data, and how should organizations prepare to meet them?
There are three major data trends that organizations are currently facing, and they’re all closely tied together. First and foremost, the volume and complexity of data are growing exponentially and as a result, organizations face a constant balancing act of cost versus quality when it comes to their data management or e-discovery processes.
Meanwhile, the world is flattening. As organizations expand their reach and presence across borders, they face new cross-border challenges related to data privacy and security laws, cultural nuances and understanding local technology usage behaviors.
As the volumes of data grow, so do the associated costs. As a result, companies’ need for proportionality analysis and expert testimony associated with e-discovery is on the rise worldwide. In fact, having personally testified in over 100 cases during the last 15 years, I can say that this need has skyrocketed in the last 2 to 3 years. Today, we're seeing many organizations focus on their information governance controls and safeguards to proactively protect and manage their data before an investigation or litigation occurs.
Since joining BDO Consulting, what excites you most, in terms of the firm’s approach to forensic technology and the services it provides?
It’s a combination of the resources and the approach. As I've mentioned, the professional roster at the firm is impressive and fully multi-disciplinary. From digital forensics and technology specialists, to examiners, e-discovery professionals, criminologists, computer scientists, data scientists and accountants, the in-house resources are full-suite, high caliber and truly global. At the same time, the firm focuses on working with clients directly, meaning direct accountability, direct guidance and direct impact on the issues we help them navigate.
Douglas Herman is a Principal in BDO Consulting’s Forensic Technology Services practice with extensive knowledge and experience in technology, specializing in database-driven applications, pre-litigation planning, e-discovery and digital forensic services. He has considerable technical experience with computer networking, network security, data storage, database-driven applications and advises clients nationally across multiple industries, including; energy, healthcare and pharmaceutical, education, banking mortgage, transportation, and manufacturing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.