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.

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Internet of Things: An opportunity to innovate H2M | M2H | M2M Communications

 

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“Today’s hyper-competitive business climate requires flexible, configurable billing solutions that can handle a wide-variety of consumption and subscription-based business models – and the ability to change them, quickly and without IT intervention.” Andrew M. Dailey, MGI Research

H2M Com
Programming in the 1990s

My first experience of programming was in Fortran (Formula Translating System) for statistical analysis of an engineering experiment for my undergrad. It was the early 90s and Fortran language computer engineers had not yet figured out how to build in demarcations that allowed humans to find the erroneous lines in the program.

One dark and stormy night, I sat in the computer lab trying to compile my program. I kept getting [Unknown error] again and again. I tried everything I possibly could. I went through every line painstakingly. I reviewed the syntax with the hardcover book I had on Fortran programming. But it wasn’t till 3 a.m. in the morning that I realized that I had missed a “,” (comma) in one of my program lines and so the machine could not understand what it is that I wanted it to do. It did not compute my communications!

Feeling beaten by the frustration of not being able to communicate with the machine (H2M) using a language that only worked on a trial-and-error basis; I strapped on my backpack, mounted my bike to ride uphill in the stinging rain towards home. As I approached my home, the rain gave way to a moonlit sky and dark clouds with silver lining. I looked up at the moon and held up my fist up and said:

“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never PROGRAM again.” (Based on Gone with the Wind)

I programmed again…albeit grudgingly.

H2M | M2H Com
Fragmentation of Technology Solutions in 2010s

Fast forward to today, building a technical solution for humans has become a massive co-ordination effort among a team of humans.

Programming has definitely become easier and faster. With today’s object oriented programming (OOP), programmers are integrators of existing code (objects) supplied by the giants of technology like Apple, Google, SAS, etc. At worst you can find the code in code libraries or ask questions in many readily available forums online. Error correction has definitely become simpler and programming languages for the most part are easier to use but still hard to learn.

But the business of developing a technology solution has definitely become fragmented. First, there are approximately 700 different programming languages in existence today. One must learn at least a few of these languages to actually become a coder.

Second, programming in itself is not sufficient to enable H2M|M2H Com today. We must also have:

  • product managers to interpret customer needs and define what to build,
  • business analysts to write it in pieces of requirements,
  • editorial for actually convert information into human language,
  • user experience for visual optimization of screens,
  • design to make sure everything is sized correctly for different devices,
  • marketing for call to action or campaign design,
  • IT for data feed and processing,
  • analytics for analysis of data into information being fed in and out of systems,
  • QA to make sure that there are no errors in all of it,
  • testing to make sure that everything works together,
  • publishing to put it out there in the real world,
  • support to catch any problems from internal business managers, and
  • customer service channels to catch and fix all the problems from customers.

And all of the above does not include team of humans that maintain the hardware and software that allows this communications to physically exist on machines.

Agile ‘process’ is one attempt to shorten the above human based co-ordination process but it only reduces the time that humans (businesses) talk to each other before putting together a complex set of separate systems to then communicate to other humans (customers/businesses/employees). Also, the time saved in the original build is taken up by repetitive iterations of solution updates and changes.

Side: Here is a great YouTube video on Computer Programming.

The fragmentation of H2M|M2H Com in the 2010’s has generated over $1 Trillion of spending in IT and should grow over $3 Trillion by 2016 as technologies in homes, cars, businesses, clothing, watches, household goods, etc. come into existence. The cost of doing business using technology has increased because the cost of building and enabling technology has also increased along with its complexity. (Moore’s Second Law)

So why have human beings become multi-layered translators between a group of humans (businesses) to machine to another group of humans (customers/businesses/employees)?

Because technology today still hasn’t solved the fundamental problem of H2M | M2H | M2M Communications. Communicating through technology today is a bit like playing ‘telephone’ while accumulating errors over layers of recollection from humans to machine to humans.

H2M | M2H | M2M Com
A Proposal for Fusion Innovation in 20XXs

To move forward in Communications through technology, we must look to the past.

Thomas Edison’s critical decisions related to the light bulb’s key component: the material of which the filament is made of, Carbon as oppose to Platinum. Edison knew that using a much cheaper material for the filament would lower product costs and market price, and make light bulbs cheaper and more appealing for consumers. He always went for the jugular of mass market.

(Source: Inspiration Joins Perspiration: Thomas Edison as a Dynamo of Applied Creativity)

‘Internet of Things’ refers to connecting everything we live with to the Internet so that our human needs can be communicated directly to businesses we purchase from on a daily basis. Businesses will be able to mine daily habits of people at an aggregate level and realign product strategies on a daily basis, if they have the man-power to do so based on existing technologies. Big Data can finally be a reality!

However, in the recent WSJ.com blog the following was stated “’Internet of Things’ challenges [current] business models, forcing [companies] to figure out how to cut costs in order to boost volume” and hence serve the mass market.

Challenging the business model is not enough. Like Edison, we must challenge the technology itself and re-invent the fundamentals. It is time to destroy the current fragmentation of first building a solution in technology medium (namely, software, codes, hardware, etc.) and then working to translate it all for human use.

Here are some postulations that may inspire humans to solve our generations ‘light-bulb filament’ problem:

  • Instead of separating tangible (hardware) and intangible (software)…bring them together.
  • Instead of creating multiple machine languages, converge them into one visual language that any human (businesses, employees, families, etc.) can use to build technology solutions in a few hours for any device and then share with others.
  • Instead of forcing humans to code machines to talk to each other, enable machines to machine communications without intervention.
  • Instead of building one ‘IoT’ at a time…allow humans to wire all their experiences:

home – kitchen, bathroom, entertainment system, etc.
car – driving, music, lights, entertainment devices, steering, maps, etc.
finances – payments, purchases, debt, retirement, etc.
travel – plan, purchase, travelling, tell friends, photos, etc.

There are many reasons not to destroy the current complex technology eco-system…actually there are $3Trillion plus reasons to be exact! But fusing technologies will also create new markets, new opportunities and one day legitimately enable H2M|M2H|M2M Communications.

Com


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Kiran Sohi’s career has focused on leading businesses to success by enabling strategic decision making. While my passion is strategy and technology, my work spans a number of corporate disciplines including marketing, finance and operations.

OPEN WRX Consulting Inc. is committed to helping companies improve competitiveness through effective decision making. Services include structuring, facilitating and implementing strategic planning process and strategic solutions for businesses, functional departments and/or channels.

Visit openwrxconsulting.com for more info.

Sam Walton’s 10 Commandments

Sam Walton's 10 Commandments

Sam Walton’s 10 Commandments

1. Commit to your business.
2. Share your profits with your associates and treat them like your partners.
3. Energize your colleagues.
4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.
5. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.
6. Celebrate your success.
7. Listen to everyone in your company.
8. Exceed your customers’ expectations.
9. Control your expenses better than your competition.
10. Blaze your own path.

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Kiran Sohi
openwrxconsulting.com
kiran.sohi@openwrxconsulting.com