Who will win? Compliance meets innovation

Written by on September 22, 2015 in Opinion with 2 Comments

Pile of filesWe are awash with innovation. Stories arrive daily that announce that Apple is definitely building a car, that Google is building a planet (or something) and that our lives will soon become responsibility-free zones of peace and harmony, driven by robots. (You have to wonder how long it is before someone says that the word ‘robot’ demeans the machine.)

The real discussion in the next few months and years, though, will be at the nexus of innovation and governance. Compliance is a word that will turn up regularly.

It already is. In Australia the major banks have closed down bitcoin providers. Why? Because compliance makes allowing the companies to continue to run bank accounts too risky. Bitcoin, as a product, may not be the ‘dead cert’ product that we once thought. Blockchain almost certainly is. But the innovation behind it is surely something to be embraced. It is a sad day when banks’ compliance managers believe that supporting innovation on this scale is too risky.

Apple, the Great Innovator, is also pushing the boundaries. Many of our news stories involve Apple. Ad blocking software removed from the Store, malware being injected into apps in the store and Apple definitely launching a car (of some kind).

A car.

It will be interesting to see whether people will buy an Apple car.

Meanwhile, the company has already been in talks, car-wise, with Regulators in California. Compliance issues already being discussed.

Compliance requirements obviously increase with risk. That bitcoin (which cannot actually kill you) is too risky for the compliance people at Australian banks does not bode well.

Cars can definitely kill you. Medicines, wrongly prescribed or wrongly administered, can kill you. A host of things that we are now automating are dangerous. Given the Australian ‘benchmark’ what height will the bar be for medicines and cars, trucks, ships and probably planes?

Many would say – rightly – that without compliance, innovation is hurtling us down a very dangerous and scary road. An equal number would say that compliance will stop innovation. A great idea, dreamt up in one of those Californian garages, kept specially for the GAFA mafia, could easily die because the wind-swept and interesting inhabitants of the garage realise that their invention, now working, needs to go through dozens of expensive hoops. At which point, they set off to their favourite bar, where they dreamt the thing up in the first place. And play pool.

Perhaps we could crowd-source compliance. Or ‘gate’ it. Once you have got your product past a crowd of compliance makers, you move to the next step, the compliance market makers. Then you can launch it.

Perhaps not, though, presumably that idea would not reach necessary compliance standards.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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  1. Tony Poulos says:

    Of course people will buy an Apple car Alex, even if it has square wheels just to be innovative.

  2. Hugo says:

    On crowd sourcing innovation, has anyone considered blockchaining source code?

    It’s a great way to gate it, to share it, and to protect it from unauthorised changes in a regulated world.

    The existing clinical medical market requires peer review and full disclosure of any drugs or devices, so it may be reasonable to only allow licensed open source code for clinical applications. Patent medicine has no place in a clinical setting. So why would patented code? For any licensed use, including cars?

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