eCommerce: Point of Digital Coalescence

eCommerce Title
eCommerce: Point of Digital Coalescence

The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit. ~ Milton Freidman

eCommerce: A Living Technology™

eCommerce enables exchange of goods or services via electronic means between people. Today, it is made up of integrated technologies that are owned and operated by separate industries.

eCommerce, however, is evolving as people broaden their expectations to include all products and services they consume. The context in which eCommerce is used is also expanding from personal to work to vacation to…well…life. Reality is that eCommerce delivers the promise of information technology:

right product or services_wp

People have always shaped the future of commerce whether it is based on brick and mortar face-to-face exchange or an online transaction. The fundamentals of commerce has not changed but processes, people and technologies have. As eCommerce attempts to meet the expanding expectations of the free market, the separately owned integrated technologies that now make up eCommerce will coalesce.

That is, technology that helps search for products or services will coalesce with the technologies that enable act of purchase, and the delivery of products or services.

Defining Digital Coalescence

Digital Coalescence is more than algorithmic joining of technologies owned by separate industries. It is the fusion of people, processes and technology to reduce overall costs of enabling eCommerce without the limitation of industries and/or regulations. Extending the concept from technology to industries would result in absorption of these industries into one.

Coalesce_wp

Future industries will be defined by how people want to use technology in their daily lives.

Addressing the Barrier: Costs of eCommerce

eCommerce like Commerce of yesteryears is shaped by the free market. And free market is insisting on driving costs out of the current processes and technologies.

Case in point is Walmart Pay. With the new payment app, Walmart “shoppers about to check out will be able to log in to their accounts on the app, scan a QR code at the cash register, and pay on their phone without producing cash or a credit card.” The use of credit card can cost merchants “1.5% to 3% of every card swipe to credit card companies.

User trust and behaviour will still remain a challenge to overcome for these coalesced technologies. In others words, people or the free market will still decide what stays and what goes based on how easy it is to use.

But change in the cost structure is necessary to sustain growth and profitability in eCommerce. eCommerce solutions are expensive to build and maintain. It can require significant investment in people, process, technology and time while still retaining significant risk of failure not to mention fierce competition.

Digital Coalescence: Will it remove the costs in eCommerce?

Yes but only within the limits of the laws of physics. Search of products or services and payment methods are for the most part digital processes. Delivery of services can also be included in Digital Coalescence. But we will have to wait for the technology that transforms matter into energy and then back into matter to deliver physical products.

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OPEN WRX Consulting Inc. is committed to helping companies improve competitiveness through effective decision making by applying strategy to tech solutions, building plans that create financial value and sharing knowledge that drives innovation.

Kiran has over ten years of experience in business and technology consulting, eCommerce, marketing and sales – in both the public and private sectors and across several industries. Her experience spans the spectrum from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. By working closely with you on technology initiatives, Kiran can help stimulate your business strategy, deliver solutions and identify value.

The Trust Channel

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The Postal Service can continue to evolve and operate more like a private-sector business.” ~ Megan J. Brennan, New Postmaster’s Goal: Act Like Private Sector, WSJ.com

Trust – Postal Service’s Greatest Asset

For centuries postal services in every country across the globe have aimed to serve the people by being the trusted guardians of the written word. From innocent sentiments of a child for Santa in North Pole to private, legally binding documents of multi-billion dollar conglomerates, the Postal Service has dutifully transported and delivered messages.

Although times have changed, our need for a trusted channel to communicate has not.

In fact, the need for Trust Channel has only multiplied as new technological methods of communications like Twitter, Gmail, Facebook and even LinkedIn have come into existence. These multi-billion dollar giants of communications are trusted by people from all walks of life, each one attempting to demonstrate their worth, originality, ideas, thoughts and, on occasion, dissatisfaction… all things that make us human.

These channels play on our fundamental need “To Belong” within a virtual world that attempts to expound voices of billions of people. Nothing wrong with this at all except when more than one person speaks at the same time, it becomes extremely noisy in real-time digital communication.

Inter-human communications, as we all know, is far more complex than the latest trending topic on many social media networks.

Now more than ever, there is a fundamental need to be ‘heard’ …not by the mass of invisible crowds but by the few you would like to address, privately without third party monitoring of your communications for monetary gains.

And the only entity that can still fulfill this need for private and trusted communications between people and businesses is the Postal Service.

Conflict – To make Money or Serve the People

Neither the need for a trusted, private communication channel; nor the benefits of advanced technological communications can be fundamentally denied. They are both equally important to modern communications.

Yet these two concepts remain mortal enemies in today’s digital world.

Why?

One problem is ‘Data’. Data, it seems, is the source of golden nuggets that must be mined for intelligence to make money. And, there is nothing wrong with this at all. Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, LinkedIn and many other communication entities attempt to gather data, buy and sell data, mine data, add to data, statistically manipulate data, react to data or otherwise use it to make money. Without data, social media networks would not be worth billions.

So what can reconcile the delicate balance between the need for private, trusted communications between people and the need to use technological communications to make/save money?

Only an entity that does not have a required obligation of pleasing its investors and at the same time serve the fundamental need for private and trusted communications between citizens can fulfill this need.

This balance can only be achieved if an entity is mandated to serve the people first and the market needs second while sustaining the strength of people’s trust.

Can the answer to this paradox still be Postal Services?

Opportunity – Industries that Serve People

Need for private and trusted communications that is not intervened by third party monitoring is paramount in today’s technologically advanced world. Electronic communications is no longer private in any form. The only security measures holding back intervention in individual communications is the sheer volume of data available and, of course, whether the information gleaned from the data is really worth any money. Sometimes the effort is worth it but in most cases finding the golden nugget has been extremely costly.

But this is no guarantee of privacy or trust in electronic communications. It seems to be more luck of the draw than secure, trusted communication channel.

So where in the marketplace is private and trusted channel of communication still required:

Financial Services

Banks and its customers (business and consumers) require a means to communicate highly private and secure information on a daily basis in real-time. From discussion about which account number to use to what amount of money needs to be transacted to which billing account number to debit…are all highly sensitive information that require private, trusted and secure communication channel.

Medical Services

Individual medical records are private and should be private between physician and the patient. Only a secure and private communication channel can ensure that this remain such.

Legal Services

Legal records are also private unless they are legally required to be disclosed. Once again a need for private exchange of information is necessary to ensure that trust is reinforced between the legal system and the people.

Identity Services

The records of your existence are private and trust-bound. These records should remain yours and any communications associated with these records should remain within the control of the holder of identity—you.

For the longest time Postal Services have handled these documents and records within the security of its Trusted Channel. And the practice still continues worldwide.

Evolution – Innovation in Trust

Imagine the Evolution of The Trust Channel.

What if it was no longer necessary to worry about privacy and security when instructing your financial advisor about your decision on financial management through a secure email?

What if you could view your medical records online with absolute knowledge that no one but you and your doctor knows your medical conditions? What if you know which doctor has access to your records and you own the ability to block them if you don’t trust them or their judgment?

What if you and your lawyer can discuss your pending legal matter without worrying about privacy?

What if you and your government have a private and trusted channel to communicate about your passport renewal?

What if….

Fact is that there is absolutely no other entity out there today that can own and manage The Trust Channel other than an evolved Postal Service without compromising itself on the alter of privacy invasion for the purpose of making money. Only a service with a clear mandate to first serve the people and not the money can do this job.

Even if a new innovative, entrepreneurial company builds a super secure and private communications technology to be used for Trust Communications, it will eventually become part of a private enterprise that wants to make money from your private information. Case in point, PasswordBox being acquired by Intel’s Safe Identity Organization. PasswordBox was a great company with approximately 14 million downloads and as Intel evolves the technology to integrate it into its own solutions, it would be interesting to see how data is used.

Actions – Re-Modelling the Business of Postal Services

Postal Services are no strangers to innovation and risk-taking as they have been addressing the issue of shipping and delivery for centuries. Well before Amazon’s drone delivery services, Postal Service was experimenting with human-powered drone services. Here is a picture of Autogyro from 1930s piloted by John Miller demonstrating shuttle mail delivery to Washington D.C.

Autogyro

Source: Library of Congress

Perhaps, it is time to rejuvenate the spirit of innovation once more and re-consider how Postal Service business model should serve the people and businesses. The opportunity does not solely include mail delivery and parcels, it spans into meeting the need for trusted, private and secure communications for foundational businesses and people across the globe.

As USPS has already demonstrated, Postal Services should partner with the private sector, enable new communication technologies, address the problems of modern retailers, and rebuild the foundation of The Trust Channel once again.

Private sector technology and government entities should not be enemies.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
~ Abraham Lincoln

There is no perfect business model or solution for modernization of Postal Services but it is worth searching for one to keep the trust of the people.

The answer may be found in balancing two extreme principles that at first seem to be mortal enemies in digital world:

making profits vs. serving the people.

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OPEN WRX Consulting Inc. is committed to helping companies improve competitiveness through effective decision making by applying strategy to tech solutions, building plans that create value and sharing knowledge that drives innovation.

openwrxconsulting.com

 

Smart City: If you build it for the People, they will come

Smart City

Government needs to take a lead in removing barriers to innovation and facilitating collaboration between multiple diverse actors. ~ The Smart City Market

Challenges of building a Smart City

Smart City efforts are being initiated by cities across the globe. Regardless of the size of effort and investment, enabling smart technologies at large scale have a number of challenges.

Here are some issues outlined in assessments by Gov.UK:

  • A lack of funding for multiple Smart City initiatives
  • Creating a common and long term vision that is sustainable across government agencies regardless of who is in office
  • High cost of investment in new technologies and its implementation
  • Collaboration across different procurement and agency policies to ensure high volume cost savings for technologies and associated services
  • A common user experience and transparency across services regardless of type of service, whom it serves and which agency manages it
  • Common understanding of privacy, data management and safety policies across agencies
  • Regulations and legislation that encourage innovation and facilitate growth while serving citizens and businesses alike
  • A business model that serves the needs of citizens first

Barcelona has created a Smart City PMO (Personnel Management Office) which coordinates all the projects in the city that are classified under the smart city tag. This has meant transitioning from silo’d work to “transversal” work. The city has produced an early strategy document which attempts to set up the basis of the smart city strategy in the city. Ms. Lopez Ventura claims: “I think that this change to get all departments working towards the same strategy is quite new.”~ Global Innovators, International Case Studies on Smart Cities

A Model for Innovation and Collaboration:
Major League Baseball Internet and Interactive

MLB.com was originally created by investments from 30 team owners and a mandate from the league with a total cost of $77M. Originally, it built and managed a common user experience for all baseball fans while pursuing digital revenue streams including ticket sales, subscriptions, sponsorships, merchandising, etc. MLB.com also has a media channel called MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) centred around the game of baseball across all media channels and devices. Estimated value of IPO in 2005 for MLBAM was $2.5 Billion. Current estimates are not available as MLBAM has no plans to go public any time soon.

So what makes MLB a model for innovation and collaboration:

  • MLB Interactive has one coherent mission mandated by the league and agreed upon by team owners:To be the internet and interactive branch of baseball league.
  • It collaborates with
    • players
    • owners
    • leagues (including NBA)
    • tech partners (Apple)
    • non-tech partners (cities across North America)
    • non-tech branches (MLB retail)
    • television and radio
    • online media
    • gaming partners
    • music bands
    • sports networks
    • and more…
      to generate revenue and serve the fans.
  • It serves all segments of baseball fans…from season ticket holders to fringe fans who occasionally dip into the game on their mobile devices.
  • It is autonomous in its decision making about technology investments and innovation.

Without question, BAM’s success stems in part from its autonomy. “It’s unlike other things in baseball where someone is meddling,” says Gary Gillette, coeditor of ESPN’s Baseball Encyclopedia. Bowman, who answers to a board of club owners, is free to make decisions about pursuing new devices or new technologies. ~ MLB Advanced Media’s Bob Bowman is Playing Digital Hardball. And he’s Winning

  • It is innovative in both identifying opportunities to serve baseball fans and in creating new ways to enjoy the game. A good example is PITCHf/x.
  • They build technology for the digital fans. User experience spans all devices, technologies and use of data to enhance the experience.
  • Cost is managed centrally thus allowing for better assessment of investments in technologies including ROI.

BAM’s business is more multifaceted than YouTube’s; [in 2009], it sold more than 35 million MLB tickets, more than half of the league’s inventory. It streams more live video than any other spots entity — and any other company ~ MLB Advanced Media’s Bob Bowman is Playing Digital Hardball. And he’s Winning

  • Privacy and data management policies are all led centrally and the fans are never in doubt about safety.

The MLB internet and interactive business has grown to BAM proportions simply because it sits outside the game. Yet it still serves the game, the stakeholders and ultimately the fans using the latest smart technology.

MLBAM on CBS Segment

Click to Watch

Challenging Status Quo Models of Smart City Initiatives

Building a Smart City is not a two-term proposition. It is an ongoing effort to change the way city folk live and work by actively using smart technologies on a daily basis. Smart City effort requires not only an innovative and collaborative effort from inside different government agencies but also a willingness to engage and serve citizens transparently and work with partners across the public/private horizon.

Mr. Godfrey, Government CIO for Hong Kong Smart City initiative explains “The vision is that our clients should find the government service as convenient, as efficient, as pleasurable to use as the best services they get from the private sector. ~ Global Innovators, International Case Studies on Smart Cities

MLB demonstrates a model for collaboration and innovation in technology all while serving fans with unforgettable experiences that are emphatically rooted in tradition as they often are within a city.

Smart City effort should be approached in the same way. An independent partnership between government agencies that are looking to use smart technologies to improve the experience for their customer: The citizens of a Smart City.

Why? Because it will enable:

  • Singular accountability with multi-agency, business and citizen stakeholders
  • A common vision of success across agencies and for perpetuity
  • Autonomous decision making by singularly accountable
  • Common and transparent experience for citizens across services
  • Cost consolidation, driving ROI and investment transparency
  • Integrated technologies across agencies with citizen-focused delivery
  • Common privacy and data policies across agencies
  • A need to drive collaboration and innovation to be successful
  • Serving the direct customer: Citizens of Smart City

The real challenge for Smart City initiatives is to find the balance between

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UPDATE: December 11, 2014
HBO to Use MLB Advanced Media for Stand-Alone Streaming Product
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OPEN WRX Consulting Inc. is committed to helping companies improve competitiveness through effective decision making by applying strategy to tech solutions, building plans that create value and sharing knowledge that drives innovation.

openwrxconsulting.com