Why you need a decentralised identity

We have all been warned about identity theft. Even the big banks like Barclays are running TV ad campaigns showing customers how a phone call that seems to legitimately come from your bank can be used to steal your online banking pin number. There is plenty of information out there about how to keep your details safe, but no matter what precautions we take, there are always bad actors out there (this is now a ‘polite’ way of referring to people who are nothing more than criminals) who are relentless in their search for new ways to access our private information.

Tomislav Markovski, writing on Medium tells a story about how he nearly became the victim of bank fraud when he rented a property. After providing every possible kind of document to the real estate agent, including bank statements and investment portfolio details, he received a call from his bank a few days after he had moved in saying that someone wanted to cash a large check drawn on his account. Markovski knew he didn’t have that much money in is account, but the bank then told him that “he” had made a transfer from his savings account by phone. Of course, he’d made no such call, and thanks to his bank calling when they did, the theft was stopped. But, as he says, it was a “masterfully crafted plan that involved just four key steps”

1. Call the bank pretending to be Markovski

2. Change his phone number (to confirm large withdrawal)

3. Transfer all his savings into his current account

4. Have a fake cheque made and present it to the bank for withdrawal

They were able to do this because they had access to all the necessary information on him, including his social security number. They couldn’t catch the scammer, but it made Markovski think about why so much information was required to rent an apartment and why are we still relying on physical documents.

Blockchain has a solution — decentralised identity

Blockchain technology is opening up a range of possibilities to prevent this kind of crime and decentralised identity could be the way forward. As Markovski says, decentralised identity is “publicly discoverable identity information.” It uses blockchain technology to provide tamper-evident information about an entity or a subject and “allows a model of truth to be established between parties that rely on communication and exchange of data.”

There are already a few platforms working on this, including Civic, uPort and Sovrin. As Markovski says: “Decentralized identity platforms will change the current broken identity system that relies on numerous online services requiring us to remember passwords for each of them. They can help us protect our personal information and allow us to control how this data is shared.”

Until these platforms gain mass adoption — be careful out there!

Is U.S. Congress clueless about crypto?

Last week the folks on Capitol Hill made a few headlines and stirred up a Twitter storm. Well, at least Congressman Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California did that with his statement that all crypto and mining should be banned, thus provoking the crypto community into meeting his remark with total outrage online. This was a unique event in itself as the crypto sphere is known for its sniping and clashes. However, Sherman brought them all together.

Whilst Brad Sherman’s message tended to dominate the press reports, for obvious reasons as it makes a good story, other headlines didn’t do much to instil any sense that Congress has finally understood what cryptocurrency and the blockchain world is all about. In fact, to some onlookers it appears as to be the case that Congress is more hostile to crypto now than it was five years ago. For

example, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said cryptocurrencies are “great if you’re trying to hide or launder money,” at a separate hearing on the same day Sherman made his astonishing statement. Perhaps he didn’t notice that the FBI had indicted 12 Russians for trying to tamper with the U.S. elections and that the FBI achieved this by tracing the conspirators bitcoin transactions. So much for that argument Mr Powell!

Were things better in 2013?

Let’s remember that when Congress discussed crypto towards the end of 2013, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, then-director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), told bitcoin exchanges and wallets to register with FinCEN and people took this a positive sign. In fact, as Coindesk points out, Calvery’s invitation boosted bitcoin’s price in December 2013 to just over $1,100.

Beyond the big headlines

Of course there is danger in focusing too much on big headlines from the Congress hearings and not looking into the progress that has been made. For instance, regulatory understanding has moved forward even if it hasn’t arrived at an end point that everyone is happy with. Law firms are heavily engaged with it and some staff at the SEC, the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission and other agencies are much more comfortable with the crypto industry than five years ago. In a massive bureaucracy things were never going to move at lightning speed.

And things will keep moving forward. Why? Because there are too many people and too much money engaged and invested in this industry for anyone in politics and policymaking to ignore it completely. In the end those who understand crypto and its potential will outnumber people like Sherman and Powell and we’ll have a Congress that isn’t so clueless.

The Four New Rules of Business

Every business is different. But for all their differences, leading digital companies have some things in common that separate them from the rest. Over the five plus years I’ve been researching digital business, my colleagues and I have developed a number of frameworks to highlight these distinctions. In 2017, Ted Schadler and I worked to distill our learning even further. As a result, we revealed four rules of business which we believe will determine the success or failure of every company by 2020.

To explain our research, Ted and I recorded a complimentary Forrester webinar: “Digital Rewrites The Rules Of Business”.  In the webinar, we use the new rules of business to discuss some of the key challenges companies face when trying to digitally transform their business. Ultimately, everything starts with fully understanding your customers’ desires – and using that understanding as your north star throughout the transformation process.

In the Q&A discussion following the webinar, two main themes emerged: the role of ecosystems in digital transformation, and the extent to which digital transformation occurs.

digital business ecosystem graphicDigital business ecosystems

Business transformation is accelerated by, and built upon digital ecosystems: the customer’s personal value ecosystem, digital experience ecosystems, and digital operations ecosystems.

The customer’s personal value ecosystem is unique to each customer. It’s represented by the unique collection of digital apps each customer assembles with their smart devices. The apps they use most frequently are also the most capable of delivering an outcome of value. For example, I use my Apple TV app to navigate AppleTV because I can never keep a separate remote handy, and navigation is easier using the app because it has a voice interface – so the app saves me time. An analysis of all the apps on my phone that I most often use would reveal a great deal about my personal value ecosystem. Customers like you and me expect better digital experiences because of all the digital apps we use in our day-to-day lives.

Digital experience ecosystems help firms deliver on customers’ desires. DXEs form around specific customer needs and desires. Forrester defines the customer experience (CX) ecosystem as the web of relations among all aspects of a company — including its customers, employees, partners, and operating environment — that determine the quality of the customer experience. The DXE represents both the digital products and services that customers use to achieve their outcomes and the digital operational elements of the CX ecosystem companies use to deliver value to customers. For example, Nike+ not only allows runners to track their distance and calorie count; Nike+ is also part of a wider ecosystem of shops, social media, and even an invite-only celebrity gym that offers influencers, and active Nike+ members, the full fit-lifestyle.

While each company may assume it plays a distinctive role for their customer, from the customer’s perspective value is created when the achieve the outcome they most desire. To get there, they often require products and services from more than one company. When I Autocross my car, I not only engage in the driving experience of my car, I also need to put fuel in the car (I use an app for that), I use the Waze navigation app (even though my car has navigation built into it), I use an app for recording vehicle dynamics and another for video. While these apps are in my personal value ecosystem, they also form a broader digital experience ecosystem, working together to deliver the outcome – a great autocross day. Digital experience ecosystems constantly evolve – retail stores now offer banking services,  airlines offer cruise vacations, agri-businesses offer advice on farm management. When evolving into a digital business, you must consider markets outside of your own immediate business – because the digital leader of those markets will not only shape your customer’s expectations, they may well be competing with you very soon.

Digital operations ecosystems increase operational agility in service of customers. Behind the scenes, businesses assemble myriad capabilities to support their business model — increasingly the digital components of such business capabilities integrate the business with other companies in the market to create an operational ecosystem, with each company dependent upon others for survival. While the ultimate focus of this ecosystem is creating customer value, it’s more immediate effect is to drive operational agility in service of customers. For example, SupplyOn sits at the center of a global supply chain ecosystem, connecting the operational capabilities of thousands of manufacturers to reduce the time it takes to bring complex products to market.

The extent of digital transformation

Many people make the mistake of thinking of digital transformation as a series of projects. But true transformation is a journey, not a destination. Responding to rising customer expectations demands a state of continuous evolution. Each evolution of the experience must deliver a valuable outcome better. Done well, revenue follows. Disruptive innovation happens when a company achieves a breakthrough in delivering a specific outcome – for example when Netflix began streaming movies on-demand.  But even without disruption, there is always room for improvement, and your customers will always show you the way forward.

To succeed, digital transformation must thrive even in the far reaches of your company. You must evolve together as an organization – not just one department.

This article was originally posted on https://go.forrester.com

Cities on the blockchain


Is it possible to run an entire city using blockchain technology?

Dubai seems to think so. The business and airline hub of the Middle East has set itself the challenging task of being the “first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020.”

It might sound outrageous right now, but the concept of ‘smart cities’ running on the blockchain is actually not as outlandish, nor as difficult to achieve as you may think. The question really is; where do we start? There are so many millions of possible uses for blockchain in a city, but there are undoubtedly some bigger areas where it will have the most dramatic effect.

IoT devices

Already a number of cities are using IoT devices to do a number of jobs, like monitoring traffic and air quality. Thos IoT devices can be connected to the blockchain. That also applies to any city system that collects data — it can all go on the blockchain. In fact, by putting it all on the blockchain, it will provide an upgrade to the system, and make the information easier to manage and access. Basically it will get rid of all kinds of inefficiencies where officials, such as the police, have to go through X number of other organisations to get a vital piece of information.

Better public safety

Data sharing can have a positive impact on public safety. The blockchain can provide a secure system for sharing sensitive data. One example is working on preventative measures, such as analyzing crime statistics and planning police patrols around that information. Yes, there are issues to be ironed out regarding citizen’s rights to privacy and how much information a government can track, but people are at least having a conversation about it.

Efficient transport

Public transport is vital in most major cities and they don’t work without it. The blockchain offers a lot of potential here, especially for the way passengers pay for their transport. If commuters have a blockchain wallet on their smartphone, they could pay for any transport pass, loyalty programme, or purchase tickets without a card.

Citizen incentives

If you put the public transport payment system on the blockchain, you can also offer customers some incentives. For example, if a city wants its residents to use transport rather than drive, there is a way to incentivise that. When the smartphone wallet shows a citizen has been using public transport for a specific period of time, it is possible to offer them a ‘free ride’ or a discount on an electricity bill. In a smart city, an incentive should push people toward more ethical and sustainable living choices.

And that is what a smart city should be — sustainable and more habitable with fewer issues and inefficiencies. If Dubai achieves its goal, it will have created a blueprint for others to follow.