Ctrl-Shift-Del: 2013’s Top 5 Technology Trends for Consumers.

March 16, 2013

RATIONALE:

I was recently reading the PWC/Digital IQ Report, entitled “2013 Top 10 Technology Trends for Business”,[1] when I deduced that something was missing.  Rather than say that the venerable PWC were wrong in omitting something (who am I?), I thought it better to perhaps bring my views to light with a separate but related story; hence this blog post with a title that plays-on that of the PWC Report.

The PWC/Digital IQ Report identifies and presents those 2013, top 10 tech. trends for business, as: (1) Pervasive computing; (2) Cybersecurity; (3) Big Data mining and analysis; (4) Private Cloud; (5) Enterprise social networking; (6) Digital delivery of products and services; (7) Public Cloud infrastructure; (8) Data visualization; (9) Simulation and scenario modeling; and (10) Gamification.[2]

IDENTIFICATION:

One might say that these are, each and all, complete in and of themselves.  However, the additional trends for consumers that they inspire, should, I feel, be presented as either:

(a) additional trends (numbered 11 through 15) for businesses (considering the business-to-consumer/business-to-business implications and possibilities); or

(b) as separate & distinct (numbered one through five), consumer specific trends.

These 5, are: (v) Accelerated lived experience; (w) BYOD; (x) Crowdsourcing; (y) Distance education; and (z) End-User legal authority/license autonomy/leveraged ability (EULA3, or cubed).  Hence, choosing (b) – presented as separate and distinct, consumer-specific trends, I detail them below.

SPECIFICS:

Accelerated Lived Experience:

(v) The speed at which information now moves has led to an accelerated lived experience, for everyone.  Anything and everything posted in a social media setting can be shared instantaneously, with millions of people all over the world.  And, once something is released into the wild of the web, it can “never” be taken back.  Legally, there are archives of webpages, tweets, blogs, pictures, videos, and postings – even the deleted ones – kept by licensed players within the internet superstructure; technically, there are vast storehouses (server farms) sifting through everything that is uploaded to, sent across, and downloaded from the internet by many governments around the world, and their functionaries; and individually and collectively, people and groups – both criminal and law-abiding – can surf, send, and select for download or copy/paste at their pleasure.  We are almost at a stage of constant reaction to external initiators, and always on the lookout for the next trending thing with heightened anxiety, heart rates, and hyper-dilated pupils.  The jolt of electricity from AC/DC (alternate current/direct current) is now equated by the constant, (almost intravenous in some case for those who cannot turn-off or put-down the smartphone), stimulus experienced by the always connected/always online (AC/AO) generation.

BYOD:

(w) Bring Your Own Device, is the new policy in an increasing number of workplaces, that allows employees to bring their own devices to work, or use them remotely for work.  Despite the real dangers of allowing sometimes uncleared (inherently unsecure, or running old and unpatched operating systems), incompatible (incorrectly configured), or unnecessarily vulnerable (inadequate virus and spyware protections, or already loaded with exploits-in-waiting) tech. tools to connect and send to, and source valuable personal data, customer information, intellectual property and trade secrets from, a work network, this trend is likely to continue.[3]  BYOD has the potential to enable significant savings for the organization in not having to constantly acquire, distribute, and manage ever newer devices for its sometimes vast army of employees.  However, it can also import liabilities for anything from: failing to properly train employees in, monitor, and enforce a responsible BYOD usage policy – along with a social media usage policy; negative publicity in employee pushback against the employer’s attempts to overly-regulate their private use of private property, despite its incidental business application; and legal exposure in preventable data breach, or employee loss of personal data on an unsecured device that was misplaced or stolen.  Should the employer’s insurer or the employee’s insurer pay for the ensuing liabilities when a personal laptop, used for business, is lost or stolen when an employee is on vacation (or stress leave), but finishing-off some work?

Crowdsourcing:

(x) Having so many people, in so many different places, with myriad perspectives and experiences, enables a whole new world of crowdsourcing.  This can range from personal networking sites that allow one to rapidly get information on a specific subject from a variety of sources or thought and knowledge leaders; through groups, blogs, and list serves that are more targeted and which people join or subscribe to at their pleasure; to news media sites that invite people to post their images, videos, or opinions on a variety of current and historical issues, or disasters and other developing events of significance.  Of course, there is no guarantee that some or all such crowd sources are correct, accurate, or honest.  There have also been instances of late, involving “massaged” evidence; old footage from somewhere else presented as current footage from a hot location; and cases in which people with their own agendas have either directly impersonated, or hacked the accounts and credentials of others – not to mention those “crashing” glitzy events who could easily be mistaken for legitimate participants, if presented with the right caption to an unwitting audience (not aware of, or even so far gone as to not believe), the original footage.  Crowd-sourced “fodder” is best taken with a good dose of skepticism, and at least a little salt; lest one join the ranks of those who are so easily fooled, all of the time.  On the converse side, business use of crowdsourcing within the organization may defeat itself if not properly managed. The digital suggestion box, if too full, will see management applying that very same filtering-type software, already adept at sniffing through servers full of resumes, to sift through and sort the suggestions.  Good ones, as always, may still be filtered-out by the wrong or imprecise Big Data analytical tools.

Distance Education:

(y) This trend, thankfully, is not quite as controversial.  However, the accreditation and quality of an increasing collection of online courses, degree and certificate programs, and institutions, is a fast-developing concern.  Accredited Professionals who cannot always travel so easily to attend presentations they need for continuing education credits or that are otherwise of interest to them, can more conveniently sit and watch the webcast, or listen to the teleconference from the comfort of their own homes and offices; or even when on the road (to the extent, of course, that it does not lead them into distracted driving, boating, flying, riding, or otherwise).  As technology continues to develop and regulatory accreditation issues and concerns are resolved, this trend can only continue; including, of course, greater use of learning-on-demand, (like already pervasive delivery of video and audio content on-demand), as digitized in a Cloud for later, multi-taneous,[4] ever-replicable access.   Additionally, education need not be so formal, as someone can gain knowledge from virtually any video, blog post, or seminar – posted from anywhere and available everywhere (that does not have filtering or blocked sites) that they find online in their own identified field of pre-existing, related, or newly-created interest.

End-User Legal Authority/ License Autonomy/ Leveraged Ability (EULA3, or cubed):

(z) In the olden days (dating myself a little here), computer software was released and “sent” by snail-mail in shrink-wrapped packages.  Opening the package constituted acceptance of the manufacturer/ publisher End-User License Agreement (EULA).  Once you had broken the shrink-wrap packaging, it could prove difficult to impossible, to say that you had not accepted the EULA, or to try to return the software and get a refund if you had not otherwise fulfilled the warranty requirements, where they even existed.  Then, with the growth of online commerce/eCommerce, this turned into a click-wrap scenario, which still exists, somewhat.  By clicking on the appropriate “I accept” box or boxes, you accept the terms of use, EULA, and other conditions and prerequisites to download the software, access the site, utilize the online service, fully activate a device, or register its warranty, as appropriate.  Today, we have an increasing prevalence of shareware with licenses that are not quite free, but in the creative commons (too detailed for fuller presentation here); we have devices that are sold as locked but that can be unlocked – whether or not legally; contract hackers and programmers who work for a fee are available online, or through friends-of-friends; and stolen devices still under contract or EULA can be relatively easily wiped of data, re-programmed, and re-purposed with new Sim (Subscriber Identity Module) cards or software; whether right next door or on the other side of the world.

Users and developers of shareware, including “apps.” available for download and use on various trusted and not so trusted sites, now have added and significant legal authority to use and further develop or customize them (screensavers, fonts, skins, and avatars)  to their own liking.

Those using un-locked devices – howsoever obtained – have a significant degree of license autonomy, as they can be free from multi-year contracts; they can sometimes be free from geographic restrictions on where they can use their smartphones or play their DVDs; and they can also be free (whether through active choice or by default setting, depending on the jurisdiction) from having add-ons bundled with initial programs (EU), from having their location automatically tracked by the service provider (opt-out), and from the compulsory download of automatic updates that may conflict with programs and applications installed on the device since its initial purchase or acquisition.  Of course, an original purchaser would already have known of the manufacturer/developer caveat that the item might not work as originally envisaged if automatic updates were not accepted.  However, the later purchaser or recipient of dubious propriety, might have the device wiped and/or locked, and/or tagged on him or her when searching for an update online.  Life as lived in a certain way, will always have its risks, for those who dare there stay!

The increasing online prevalence of tools and technologies enabling groups to collaborate, individuals to innovate, and everyone to share almost anything from everywhere, with everyone at any time, provides us all with significant leveraged ability.  This has ranged from simple apps. (for almost anything thinkable and unthinkable); through online groups, archives, fora, encyclopedias, and societies (ditto); to the ever-expanding plethora of additionally leveraging SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and NaaS[5] offerings.

END-STATE:

Control once held by the manufacturer and copyright holder over the consumer and what he or she could legitimately do with the former’s intellectual property has been reduced, in cases to zero; this massive Shift of power to the consumer from the variety of choices, service options, and delivery channels available to them and in constant competition for market share; has now served to virtually Delete the EULA as once known, with end-users experiencing significant legal authority, license autonomy, and leveraged ability.  “No contract”; “unlocked”; “number portability”; “free wifi”; “roaming included”; “unlimited data package”- these are the new and standard terms, now!!

Apparently, these terms are all here to stay (and get even better in favour of the now-empowered consumer), to the extent that data-flows and internet flexibility are not slowly or suddenly throttled by sometimes competing security and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) interests, and so long as PWCs 2013 Top 10 Technology Trends for Business[6] continue to enable & expand these 2013 Top 5 Technology Trends for Consumers that I have identified above, in this post.

************************************************************************

Author:

Ekundayo George is a sociologist and a lawyer, with over a decade of legal experience including business law and counseling (business formation, outsourcing, commercial leasing, healthcare privacy, Cloud applications, social media, and Cybersecurity); diverse litigation, as well as ADR; and regulatory practice (planning and zoning, environmental controls, landlord and tenant, and GRC – governance, risk, and compliance investigations, audits, and counseling) in both Canada and the United States.  He is licensed to practice law in Ontario, Canada, as well as in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., in the United States of America (U.S.A.). Please See: http://www.ogalaws.com

He is an experienced strategic and management consultant; sourcing, managing, and delivering on high stakes, strategic projects with multiple stakeholders and multidisciplinary teams.  Please See: http://www.simprime-ca.com

Backed by courses in management, organizational behaviour, and micro-organizational behaviour, Mr. George is also a writer, tweeter and blogger (as time permits), and a published author in Environmental Law and Policy (National Security aspects).

Hyperlinks to external sites are provided to readers of this blog as a courtesy and convenience, only, and no warranty is made or responsibility assumed by either or both of George Law Offices and Strategic IMPRIME Consulting & Advisory, Inc. (“S’imprime-ça”), in whole or in part for their content, or their accuracy, or their availability.

This article does not constitute legal advice or create any lawyer-client relationship.


[1] PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.  Digital IQ – 2013 Top 10 Technology Trends for Business.  Results of the 5th Annual, PwC Digital IQ Survey.  Published on pwc.com, in 2013.  Online: >http://www.pwc.com/us/en/advisory/2013-digital-iq-survey/top-10-technology-trends-for-business.jhtml<

[2] Id.

[3] See e.g. Ekundayo George.  What about hospital BYOD?  Published on ogalaws.wordpress.com, October 7, 2012.  Online: >https://ogalaws.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/med-tech-byod-is-really-catching-on/<

[4] I have not seen the word used in this specific context before, and so I thought I might as well use it here.  It stands for “simultaneous access in multiple locations on multiple platforms or devices”; as possible through an intermediary Cloud Services Provider with a high and demonstrably reliable SLA, given industry outages to date, or a robust private/hybrid Cloud capable of running multiple and adequately buffered instances at once – providing the user (read thin- or rich- “client device”), can access adequate bandwidth and memory (as applicable), and a stable power supply.

[5] See e.g. Ekundayo George.  Data Protection and Retention in the Cloud: Getting it Right.  Published on ogalaws.wordpress.com, March 11, 2013.  I further define these 4 (“four”) SaaS service offerings here, at notes 1 through 5 and accompanying text.  Online: > https://ogalaws.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/data-protection-and-retention-in-the-cloud-getting-it-right/<

[6] Supra note 1.

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One Response to “Ctrl-Shift-Del: 2013’s Top 5 Technology Trends for Consumers.”


  1. […] Ctrl-Shift-Del: 2013’s Top 5 Technology Trends for Consumers.. […]


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