Frager Factor

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Don Peppers (LinkedIn Mentor / Influencer) We Live in Truly Amazing Times. Consider WHY...

Innovation at the speed of APPs:

Here is fascinating insight from my LinkedIn Mentor / Influencer Don Peppers -- Believable technology at its finest. The world is moving towards apps regulating the gender of a child at conception-- aside from the privacy issues -- what's so compelling about these technologies in the future is that they allow companies to ensure that their products interact with customers in the “context” of each individual customer’s situation -- not the other way around. I hope that PCAs don't end up like Facebook in terms of privacy/trust issues.

We live in truly amazing times. Consider just a few data points:
  • There are now more mobile phones on the planet than there are human beings.
  • An estimated 100,000 mobile app publishers have already released more than a million different apps, which have collectively been downloaded more than 45 billion times, more than six apps for every man, woman and child alive today.
  • The FDA has approved a tiny digestible sensor that can be put into a pill and swallowed by a patient. Proteus Digital Health, one of several companies pursuing this kind of technology, makes a sensor that is activated by stomach acids, then sends data to a Bluetooth-enabled patch on the patient’s skin, where it is relayed to a mobile app on the patient's smartphone for transmission to medical technicians.
  • Pairasight, an Ann Arbor start-up now known as XO EYE, has developed glasses that take a video of what their wearer is looking at, to be transmitted to others for real-time viewing. Now in beta test, a doctor could use XO EYE to look through the eyes of a medical technician as a procedure is performed 1000 miles away, or a specialist at Lamborghini’s factory in Italy could see what a mechanic is seeing as he works on this exotic car in, say, California.
  • A fashion company has introduced clothing with sensors that monitor the wearer’s heartbeat. Being a fashion company, they’ve connected the sensors to the fabric so that when your pulse changes on account of sexual arousal, the fabric turns transparent!
These are just a few of the many fascinating statistics and technology stories packed into the just-released book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy. While my regular Friday Book Share readers know that I’m a real sucker for such “fascinating facts,” Scoble and Israel have also done a decent job of categorizing the five major “forces” driving these technologies: mobile, social, data, sensors and location. Technology is now highly mobile, it empowers us to connect with others in social media, it generates lots of data, much of which comes from sensors, and it often involves specific locations.
You may have heard of the new buzz term “SoLoMo,” for social-local-mobile marketing. (This phenomenon is so new it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry yet!)
Well, Scoble's and Israel's five forces are like SoLoMo with data and sensors added. They didn’t suggest it, but if you need an acronym to help you remember all five forces so you can tick through them without having to look them up, try:

LoSe Mo SoDa

Their book is named “Age of Context” because what will make these forces so individually compelling in the future is that they allow companies to ensure that their products interact with customers in the “context” of each individual customer’s situation, whether it’s a smartphone that proactively alerts you when your flight is going to be late, or an app that will let you know which or your LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends are somewhere in the same restaurant with you right now, or a WiFi-enabled service at the football stadium that lets you instantly review plays from different camera angles on your tablet, while also remembering the brand of beer you prefer. Andcontext, of course, is one of the key reasons a good relationship creates more customer loyalty.
The authors spend a great deal of time discussing the capabilities, merits and drawbacks ofGoogle Glass, a device they consider to be the ultimate contextual device, because it will literally see, record and learn from everything you do, over time becoming like a true “Personal Contextual Assistant,” or “PCA” for short.
And yes, there are privacy implications. They wisely suggest that companies wanting to profit from these kinds of services must prove to customers that they can be trusted with the data. The title of their penultimate chapter, in fact, is “Why Trust is the New Currency,” and it speaks directly to the same technological developments that Martha Rogers and I chronicled in our own recent book Extreme Trust.
Not only should PCA companies refrain from selling and divulging personal data willy-nilly (because they will lose their customers!), but they should also ensure that their devices and apps don’t disclose data to third parties that a human personal assistant wouldn’t disclose. Here they compare Google Glass to another PCA, EasilyDo. Unlike Glass, EasilyDo has a “do it” button that gives the human being one last chance to override the PCA’s decision, a feature that makes EasilyDo a more trusted application, in their view.
They even suggest that the PCA of the future will help protect its customers from doing things that are against their own interest, or that they might later regret:
  • For example, if a college student posts a photo showing how he over-celebrated at a graduation party, technology exists for an online service to display a pop-up dialogue box to ask: "Are you sure you want to post this? This photo may be harmful to you in a job interview, or when you ask your parents to subsidize your summer vacation…"
This is a perfect example of what Martha and I have termed "trustability," or proactive trustworthiness, and it's likely to characterize a rapidly increasing proportion of business-customer relationships, as interactive technologies continue to advance.
And just how will all this be paid for? How will PCA companies make money by providing such contextual help to customers? Scoble and Israel think that eventually a system of “micro commissions” will evolve, so that when your PCA recommends a place to eat, for instance, the PCA itself will earn a tiny fee from the restaurant. But here I think their argument needs more development, because this kind of system will only work in the long term if it doesn’t place the PCA company’s interests in conflict with the genuine interests of the customer.
Suppose, for instance, that the restaurant I would most prefer has chosen not to participate in the micro commission scheme. Would my PCA still recommend it? And if it does, then what incentive would any restaurant have to pay micro commissions?
The future that Age of Context hypothesizes is compelling, and the book makes for riveting reading. Some version of this future is inevitable, although just how the details will develop is anyone’s guess. If you have any interest at all in how technology will change your business over the next ten to twenty years, Age of Context should be first on your list of books to read.
If you like to learn about books, my previous Friday Book Shares include:
The Beginning of Infinity (David Deutsch) and Alone in the Universe (John Gribbin)
Big Data (Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier)
This Will Make You Smarter (multiple contributors)
Smart Customers, Stupid Companies (Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff)
The Lights in the Tunnel (Martin Ford) and Race Against the Machine (Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee)
The Secret Life of Pronouns (James Pennebaker)
Being Wrong (Kathryn Shulz)
The Success Equation (Michael Mauboussin)
The Signal and the Noise (Nate Silver)
Firms of Endearment (Sisodia, Wolfe, and Sheth)
The Most Human Human (Brian Christian)

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