miércoles, 27 de mayo de 2015

Disruptions of the physical world on the digital world

It is generally accepted that digital technology is disrupting the physical world. Any kind of social and economic activity is changing in some way due to usage of technology. From industrial manufacturing to health services, within big companies business process and in our personal leisure, software and gadgets have completely changed the world where we were born. Something that we think less on is in the possibility that the physical world can also disrupt the digital world.

According with the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of disrupt is "to prevent something, especially a system, process, or event, from continuing as usual or as expected". The social shared vision of the digitalisation of economy and society is a progressive dematerialisation of any kind of activity. The more outstanding sign of this vision is the trade activity, physical shops have disappeared or shrunk due to the evolution of legacy processes through the digitalisation. Until now, it was thought that in a near future all the retailer shops would vanished. However, this dematerialisation process of retailers seems that is under disruption, "it not going to continue as expected". Although the increase of e-commerce usage has not halted, Amazon and Google has announced the opening of a physical store in a move that gives a clear signal that physical shops will not dissapear in the short term. Bricks-and mortars look as the next step of the evolution of e-commerce.

But the halting of the complete dematerialisation process of retail shops is not the only signal of disruption on the digital world coming from the physical world. Some usages of physical objects that we thought would disappear with its digital substitutes are coming back. This is the case of second-hand ebooks. It would have been difficult to forecast that there could be a market for this kind of digital items, but the case is that the second-hand ebook business is even the object of a legal dispute. Our customs in the physical world are disrupting and will disrupt the business models planned for the digital world

Forget of seeing a linear process of dematerialisation of the physical world. Forget of seeing a complete disappearance of the physical world. The disruption signals of the physical world on the digital world are far from being the last swansong.

lunes, 25 de mayo de 2015

#Investment #DigitalSingleMarket #IoT Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (25/5/2015)

2014 European Private Equity Activity

The EVCA Yearbook - 2014 European Private Equity Activity - is the most comprehensive source for European private equity fundraising, investment and divestment data. With data on more than 1,200 European private equity firms, the 2014 statistics cover 91% of the €548bn capital under management on the European market.

Minutes  of the 2125th meeting of the Commission held in Brussels

The minutes of the meeting of the European Commission that adopted the communication "A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe"

Definition of a Research and Innovation Policy Leveraging Cloud Computing and IoT Combination

The study investigates the conditions enabling the European industry to actively participate in the development of the emerging IoT and Cloud combined ecosystems. The report sets out recommendations to meet Europe’s IoT-related research & innovation challenges and support or accelerate IoT adoption across a number of use cases and lead markets in Europe.

Benchmark Study for Large Scale Pilots in the area of Internet of Things

The study identifies and benchmarks possible use cases for future Large-Scale Pilots (LSPs) in the domain of the Internet of Things (IoT) to be included in the next Horizon 2020 work programme.

miércoles, 20 de mayo de 2015

The event for automation disruption

Data economy is based in massive automation of the information processing. As information processing gets cheaper, massive automation is spreading sector after sector. It is the race against the machine described by Brynjolfsson and McAfee, a race we will lose almost certainly in all the human activity. It doesn´t matter the degree of resistance the human beings working in that sector will show, the automatisation will end with all sign of human life in that  productive activity.

The above paragraph is not pessimism, it is a reality check. Take the example of wars, perhaps the activity which is more inherently linked to human beings. The history of the human race it is impossible to be understood without wars and wars could not be imagine without some kind of human intervention. Until this moment. And you should not think only in drones. The possibility of human wars held only between robots as proxies of the human race is so real that the UN is called for a ban of that scenario. It doesn't matter the commitments of politicians for supporting the UN idea, I can´t imagine that a society will not stand up for the use of robots instead of human beings in the case of an extremely bloody war if it the usage is technically possible. And once robots will be use for the first time in a war it will be the end of human wars. All this rationale is probably behind the opposition to the UN proposal already declared by some countries.

There is an event for automation disruption in every sector. The breaking point when automation could not be delayed any more time. When there is a latent possibility of automatisation sooner or later will be a reality. How many times have you thought that the paradigm of self-driving cars could be applicable to any kind of transport? How many times some people have answered you that "yes, but not to planes"? After the Germanwings accident the planes without pilot are closer than ever. The Germanwings accident has been the event for automation disruption in planes piloting.

There is no way to avoid the event for automation disruption in our activity. Therefore, it would be better for us to apply the creative self-disruption. The only manner to maintain the value of the human task in a sector is through the early adoption of the automatisation in order to augment human capabilities and develop a new kind of activities.

lunes, 18 de mayo de 2015

#CEF #eCommerce #BigData Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (18/5/2015)

Study on the maturity of the Digital Service Infrastructures supported by the Connecting Europe Facility

The European Commission has just published a study on the digital service infrastructures supported by the Connecting Europe Facility programme. The study gives an overview on the technical maturity of specific infrastructures to be deployed as of 2015.

ICT & Commerce

A report on SME's engagement in e-commerce published by the European Commission. The report presents key questions for entrepreneurs who plan to enter e-commerce, challenges for European e-commerce and recommendations for European policy makers.

Data for Policy: A study of big data and other innovative data-driven approaches for evidence-informed policymaking

Draft report for the European Commission that investigates datadriven approaches to policymaking. The study has examined a number of relevant initiatives, stakeholders and undertaken interviews in pursuit of this aim.

miércoles, 13 de mayo de 2015

#DigitalSingleMarket strategy: naivety as a policy-making style

The long-awaited strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market has been one of the main topics in the media last week. Technical papers, policy-making magazines, specialised blogs, traditional newspapers, ... all of them has included a report of the presentation of the strategy, less of them has included an analysis of the contents. The guidelines of the articles that contain an analysis has been the debate on the appropriateness of including one measure or the other. For instance, american press has heavily criticised the inclusion of measures to tackle the consequences of the dominant position of internet platforms in the digital economy. I will try to take different approach that is an analysis of the policy-making style of the document.

Ambiguity is a common element in policy-making documents. Sometimes it is necessary to leave some room of manouver for the negotiation with the stakeholders in  the measures that have to be taken to solve an identified challenge. Less recommendable is the ambiguity in the definition of the challenges. This can be found in an important degree in the European Commission document. One example is the definition of the geoblocking problem. Talking about "unjustified" geblocking means that it is quite difficult to have an idea which are the cases that want to be solved.  

Certainly, ambiguity of the measures to tackle challenges is a characterization of policy making documents. I will not criticised references as "an ambitious overhaul of the telecoms regulatory framework". It is expected that the degree of ambitious will be part of the negotiation between the policy-makers and the stakeholders. What is less advisable is to renounce to policy-making and outsource completely the definition of some of the measures to be taken to the stakeholders. An example of this are the measures to be taken in order to avoid that cross-border parcel delivery works as a barrier for the take-up of cross-border e-commerce. The European Commission established that the core of this measures will be the results of a "self-regulatory exercise of the industry". 

Policy-making documents could be described in a simple way as the diagnosis of one or more challenges followed by the measures to solve them. The idea is quite simple, if you do not include measures to solve a challenge or this measures are incomplete, the challenge will remain unsolved. The Digital Single Market strategy has two main challenges to solve, the fragmentation of the European digital markets and the lagging of Europe in the development of the digital economy. The European Commission believe that there is only the need to introduce measures to solve the first challenge, because the second one will be automatically solved once the first is tackled. From my point of view, this is a similar approach to the confidence fairy approach taken by some economist to solve the reactivation of the economy that is criticised by Krugman. And usually, this approach doesn't work.

From my perspective, one of the more erroneous philosophical approaches is rousseauniasim. Unfortunately, man is not good by nature. Taking Rousseau as your inspiration for solving problems is equivalent to be almost destined to failure. The Digital Market Strategy approach have a worrisome rousseauniasim approach to some problems. The more clear example is the measures proposed for the telecom sector. Few differences are between the measures proposed and the Connected Continent packet rejected by Member States. It would be long to discuss if the Connected Continent packet was a good or bad idea, what it is out of any doubt is that only by insisting on a rejected proposal it is difficult to have the proposal approved. There is no indication why the European Commission think that it is going to be different this time. Except rousseaunism.

I have a great coincidence with the challenges identified by the European Commission in the digital area. Even I agree with some of the measures proposed in the Digital Single Market Strategy. Nevertheless, I find quite naive taking Rousseau as your inspiration for policy-making or to believe in the confidence fairy. Let us hope an energetic implementation of the strategy will solve this naivety.

lunes, 11 de mayo de 2015

#DigitalSingleMarket #Europeana #TTIP Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (11/5/2015)

A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe

The strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market. No more presentation is needed.

Europeana anual report

Europeana has just published its annual report for 2014. The document describe the activities and achievements in the field of digital cultural heritage last year of this organisation funded through EU budgets, Member States contributions and other sources.

EU textual proposal on regulatory cooperation in TTIP negotiations

The Commission published the updated EU textual proposal on regulatory cooperation, following the 9th round of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

jueves, 7 de mayo de 2015

The positive impact of the #DigitalSingleMarket on the global digital economy (III)

Yestwerday was adopted by the European Commission the strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market. Few surprises. After the outline of the main actions to be included that were approved by the College on march 25th and the draft documents leaked by Politico, everything expected is in the pot. The only doubt that appeared in the last moment was whether or not the new European Digital Agenda would include the creation of a brand new Internet Regulatory Authority. The source of the rumor was a document seen by The Wall Street Journal. By the moment, it doesn't seems it is going to be the case.

The jury is still outside the room. Nevertheless, there are strong signals that maybe it would not be such a bad idea to create a EU Regulatory Authority to deal with the cases of competition and protection of the consumers in the digital world. Let´s start with the case of the consumers. A couple of weeks ago E. Morozov describes crystal clear why we need an stronger protection in our usage of digital services. The need to establish and monitor obligations on the Internet Platforms for the portability of our digital life was masterly described by Morozov as "few of us expect our personal assistants to walk away with a copy of all our letters and files in order to make a buck off them". 

Besides the obligation of the authorities to protect the consumers, there is also a need to set the limits of the Internet Platforms unilateral decisions on their services. As in any economy sector, it should exist an space for competition in the digital economy, but the most powerful actors should not use the changes in their services to act as de facto regulators. That was what happened last month. With a mere change in its search algorithm Google is forcing the migration of web pages to responsive technology, a major change on web specifications. The purpose of the change may be good for the consumers, but the purpose does not justify the means. The same is the case for the changes done by Twitter on its enforcement rules on abuse on its network. Certainly the change will reduce the number of trolls, but setting this kind of limits to freedom of expression should not be the decision of a private company. We need more transparency on the Digital Platforms practices because, as Frank Pasquale wrote in an interesting article, "opacity creates ample opportunities to hide anti-competitive, discriminatory, or simply careless conduct behind a veil of technical inscrutability"

Of course, the establishment of an Internet Regulatory Authority is only possible for the bigger world markets, as EU, China or USA.  For different reasons, we can not expect from China or USA the establishment of this kind of authorities.  So after defining the rules for strengthening privacy and the example of opening an antitrust case against an Internet giant, in case it is really needed, establishing an Internet Regulatory Authority could be another contribution of Europe to the global digital economy

lunes, 4 de mayo de 2015

#DigitalSingleMarket #StartUp #Broadband Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (4/5/2015)

Minutes of the of the 2121st meeting of the Commission

On march 25th the European Commission defined the priorities for the development of the Digital Single Market Strategy. A month later, the minutes of the meeting and the policy debate around the digital future of Europe have been published.

Venture Capital Report - Europe Q1 2015

A report on VC investment into European companies in Q1 2015. it also shows historic figures of the evolution of VC investment in Europe.  

Recommendation of the Most Effective Financial Instrument(s) for the CEF Broadband Activity

The study provides recommendations on how to optimise the use of the budget available for broadband deployment under Connected Europe Facility (CEF). The recommendations will be used when developing the financial instruments under CEF.
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