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The Power of Privacy and The Value of Confidentiality

The Power of Privacy and The Value of Confidentiality 453 276 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 2 min.

Google’s Vint Cerf, who is recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet,” stated “Privacy May Be An Anomaly.” Historically, he is right in some context. We used to bathe in the open and wore less and more revealing clothes in the past. Some won’t mind going back to those days but ever since humans acquired the ability to communicate it always had the option to do it in private. Moreover, confidentiality is the corner-stone of several business sectors such as Health, Legal and Finance. So the question is: as a professional, who will you trust?

Privacy

Snapchat – a service that provides self destruct photo messaging – turned down a reported$3 billion offer from Facebook. Whatsapp claims to have more users than Twitter and handles more messages than Facebook. Bear in mind that Twitter and Facebook are free and Whatsapp is not*. In Asia, Wechat and QQ combined rule the messaging airwaves with more than a billion users. All these social messaging services enable users to communicate much in the same way we use email and SMS. Better yet, social messaging challenges the connections we make by phone, email or SMS. A recent study by industry-analysts Informa indicated that by the end of 2013 OTT (Over The Top) messaging traffic should be twice that of traditional SMS texts, topping out at around 41 billion messages sent every day (compared to 19.5 billion sent via SMS). More importantly: I believe services like Snapchat are popular because they simulate a sense of privacy traditional communication use to provide.

trust3Confidentiality

One might suspect that the push for more privacy is driven by an older more conservative demographic. Actually, it is quite the opposite. Recent studies revealed teens are fleeing social networks while elders, the only growing group, are encouraging them to stay on and broadcast. So if those who share scatter, but the spectators multiply, it is likely that privacy backlash will lead a ‘Trust Revolution’. This is already evident in the legal industry were legal tech experts predict ‘security awareness’ to be among the top priorities for law firms in 2014. To be specific: maintaining confidentiality of client information will be the top priority for law firms according to this article. This is especially more pertinent where professionals rush to the clouds out of convenience. Thus the question is: who can you trust?

Trust

In a previous post, I touched upon Apple’s fingerprint technology as a valuable breakthrough which might have far-reaching implications in how we communicate. Imagine securing not only your phone but all your documents with a fingerprint instead of passwords orproperly identify parties you communicate with and have them sign with their hands instead of a John Hancock. While I’m truly grateful I’m still hesitant to completely place my faith in any one company that either needs to lock me in or lure me to reveal information for ads. Free is very attractive but my soul is priceless and I value a whisper among the trees as much as shouting from the rooftop. As a legal professional, I can imagine doing business with a company that understands my needs. As a Wolters Kluwer employee, I will always strive to secure the trust our customers place in us.

*Whatsapp is a subscription service.

Phantom Menace: 4 Signs of Disruptions in Legal Technology

Phantom Menace: 4 Signs of Disruptions in Legal Technology 1800 1000 Raymond Blijd
Read time: 3 min.
I recently discovered HBS professor Clayton M. Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma. In it he explains the theory behind disruptions and why they are particularly menacing if you are not prepared. There are companies like IBM that have managed to survive numerous disruptions by shifting models early or like Apple or Amazon by creating disruptions themselves. Nevertheless, timing is crucial to either shift or create but the real challenge lies in where to shift to or how to disrupt. What are the signs?
Phantom Menace

Here is a illustration of how inconspicuously disruptions occur and their menacing effect if you don’t anticipate:

A 17 year old IT student in Suriname explained to me why he likes Twitter more than Facebook. I asked why he stills uses Facebook and his response was: homework assignments. Contrary to Twitter, all his classmates where on Facebook which enabled him to connect and collaborate on their homework. Google – the organizer of the world’s information – wasn’t mentioned during our conversation.

Google is still the omnipresent phantom competitor for all publishers and does that without a single piece of curated content. This was achieved purely on the basis of superior technology. Yet they are now driven into a tough spot by something they were lacking by their own admission and now they are hitting back to overcome this lack of understanding how technology benefits people.

Google understood that the Internet needed a filter, Facebook understands that people just want to connect and Apple bets they will want to do conveniently on stylish devices.

phantom2
Traits
Here are some traits to identify disruptions:

1. Empathy: Disruptions fly in the face of convention and sometime turn a proven and time-tested business model on its head. But even more precariously, they demonstrate a keen sense of empathy towards users and a knack to invert the value of goods. Example:Wikipedia or Skype

2. Visibility: They are notoriously hard to spot because they sometime hide in plain sight (Flipboard) or slowly grow to prominence through the internet grapevines. Example:Summify

3. Loyalty: Although it might look highly unconventional e.g. typing on a touchscreen, users are converts that adamantly and genuinely buy into the idea and want to change their existing habits.

4. Experience: Most disruptions share the same challenges in debunking the status quo. They sometimes lose these battles despite being superior in some cases. Most often they lose because people base their verdict on similar but not identical past events. Example:Open Source.

Signs
Now how to spot potential disruptions in legal technology:

Mobile: mobile is not a device, app or technology per se. I rather see it as an environment. It is about doing legal research behind a desk or during a meeting, in a court room but also your living room and even your car. One should be able to switch between these environments seamlessly. Key is adjusting a service to recognize, adapt and be simple enough to use in each settings. Example: Yahoo Axis

Social: In no others industry is ‘Partnering’ such a fundamental part of the business as in the legal market. Although the ‘Partners’ concept works a bit different in practice, the principle remains: to connect, exchange and collaborate to achieve a mutual goals more efficiently. Any service that leverages this principle exponentially will be disruptive.

Consumers: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Consumerization are current trends that actually reveal an underlining movement: Companies are forced to think and act more like regular consumers. Especially while pondering IT decisions. This also mimics the cultural shift in work-life division where the job moves outside the office and beyond the business days.

Value: While value was generally ruled by scarcity in the physical world it is now a moving target in the digital space. Business models based on physical rules have gradually made way for another models based on different rules. Now services are able to invert the value of commodities and when that happens they will most likely succeed to disrupt.

Future
Imagining a future disruption in the legal technology space could be as simple as looking at current disruptions in the consumer market. A legal technology disruption might not originate from a existing legal technology player. It may not be based on superior technology or better curated content. It just might be that the very basic problem legal tech is trying to solve is (inadvertently) solved in a different more efficient fashion by someone else.

In hindsight all evolutions seem self evident yet they are notoriously difficult to predict…or it may be just a matter of looking at it from another angle. So let’s stop looking for disruptions and create them by starting at the end and work our way to the beginning.

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