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personChris Middleton eventJan 23, 2018

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Hack & Craft Insights present a rundown of eight technology hotspots, strategic topics, and things to watch out for this year.

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For most organisations, 2018’s big strategic tech challenge arrives in the Spring. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May, fulfilling a dream of the Web’s prime mover, Sir Tim Berners-Lee: citizens taking back control of their data on their terms. Consumer-sponsored CSR, perhaps.

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Max Musterman was born in my imagination. At the early age of 7 he became the first child working full time after the child labour was abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century.

The jury is still out as to whether GDPR will genuinely transform data privacy, transparency and security, or whether – as some have claimed – little will change in the real world. In a recent interview, SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin said he believed some organisations will simply ignore the regulations and call governments’ bluff.

“There’s a set of companies that are saying, ‘We don’t know what it means to be compliant, so we’re just not going to do it.’ They’re going to take an aggressive interpretation and say, ‘Look, this is ill-defined, it doesn’t apply to us that much’. But that doesn’t work with GDPR. They’ll have to comply eventually, but they’re willing to take that path.”

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Whatever the immediate effects of GDPR may be, it makes critical changes to how organisations must treat personal data, by putting informed consent and transparency at the heart of the regulations, alongside privacy by design and the right to have data permanently erased.

So forward-looking organisations shouldn’t see the regulations as an obstacle. In the future, consent will be a de facto currency, backed by data ‘gold’. This alone should encourage enterprises to unlock innovation, not stifle it or moan about bureaucracy 

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Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are two further hotspots for 2018, and similar technology models can be applied to consent: for example, consider consent as a blockchain-enabled means of transacting business, backed by deep reserves of data gold. 

For example, US startup SimplyVitalHealth is using blockchain to put patients in charge of their own medical data, allowing them to sell it to research institutes, while matchmaking them with private care providers.

A technology engine for managing individuals’ consent in any digital relationship is, arguably, long overdue, perhaps based on an alternative concept: personal APIs – like a digital rights management platform for citizens’ Ts and Cs. Such a system might attach conditions to individuals’ consent and embed them in the API.

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For example, Citizen 1 might say, ‘You may use this personally identifiable data [PID] for this purpose, and for these causes that I support, but not for X, Y, or Z.’ Meanwhile, Citizen 2 might happily give his PID away in exchange for programmatic advertising, but at least it would be an informed choice.

Companies interfacing with each citizen’s key, via our notional consent platform, would be entering a legal obligation to honour those terms, finally giving something back to the consumers that some organisations have regarded as fair game. Meanwhile, companies would be rewarded for good behaviour, by increasing their stocks of data ‘gold’.

Whatever the long-term technology solution may be for managing consent, the underlying question is simple: if you challenge or ignore GDPR, what are you trying to hide, and what message does this send to your customers? 

In a long game, the companies that champion consent will win.

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But that’s not to say that AI systems and chatbots should be strategically adopted as people replacements. Most vendors in the cognitive services space see the technologies in terms of augmentation, not replacement: man plus machine, not vs machine. Vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com say their AI tools are designed to help people make better decisions, while deepening human relationships.

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Does sweeping aside costs and people make the customer experience better? That’s a business decision, not a technology one. Strategists should put the customer first, then bring the right supportive technologies onboard. Automate services that add no value, and optimise the human experience everywhere else.

Intro Meanwhile, Alexa, Siri, and other digital assistants are becoming familiar voices in the home. What lies behind them is a more important question than most people realise. In the case of Amazon, for example, its retail, fulfilment, logistics, and distribution operation links with its Web Services division, via an innocuous looking speaker in your living room.

But that’s not to say that AI systems and chatbots should be strategically adopted as people replacements. Most vendors in the cognitive services space see the technologies in terms of augmentation, not replacement: man plus machine, not vs machine. Vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce.com say their AI tools are designed to help people make better decisions, while deepening human relationships.

Does sweeping aside costs and people make the customer experience better? That’s a business decision, not a technology one. Strategists should put the customer first, then bring the right supportive technologies onboard. Automate services that add no value, and optimise the human experience everywhere else.

Jaka Krevelj

Does sweeping aside costs and people make the customer experience better? That’s a business decision, not a technology one. Strategists should put the customer first, then bring the right supportive technologies onboard. Automate services that add no value, and optimise the human experience everywhere else.

About the author
Chris Middleton
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Chris Middleton is one of the UK’s leading business & IT journalists and magazine editors. He is founder of Strategist magazine, consulting editor and former editor of Computing. He is also the former editor of: Computer Business Review (CBR). He is the author of several books on the creative use of digital media, and has commissioned, edited, and/or contributed to at least 50 more. Unusually, Chris is one of the few private individuals in the UK to own a real humanoid robot, which he hires out to schools, colleges, and corporate clients. Robotics and AI are now core areas of Chris’ journalism.

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Outro

Science and technology are the principal drivers of human progress. The adoption of the tech by society is hindered by many problems cost, organisational culture, understanding and expertise. Hack and Craft aims to make the implementation of disruptive technology easier for companies and non profits. We believe that the failure of technology to properly enable business’s is due to misunderstanding of the nature of the software creation process and a mismatch between that process and the organisational structures that often surround it.