Bring Your Own Devices

Should you be allowed to use your phone or your computer to do work? Should you be forced to just like this? Should you allow the corporation that employ you to delete information from your computer when it sees fit? Once we start using private devices in corporate environment, questions like this abound.

True, there are technologies that will help you separate what is corporate from what is private. But I believe that the best solution is mutual trust and respect. The corporation should treat us as adults, set some simple rules and let us manage them. The corporation should not treat us as potential criminals or like unruly children. Which is often the case, I am afraid.

Provided that we recover from the recesion, I believe that BYOD (Bring Your Own Devces) will stay alive only in places where there is suffciient trust between employees and corporations. Which means that it will eventually die out for the majority of corporations.

Unless, of course, the recession will not go away. In this case BYOD will become yet another tool of digital slavery. It will be a common precondition of employement that we bring our own computers to the fold. Like unpaid interns, we will have to contribute to corporate wealth in vain hope that we will be eventually employed.

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Edelman, again

Another year, another Edelman trust barometer. In brief (for the UK): we trust government and media less than a year ago. We also trust energy companies less and other companies more. Were you able to predict this trend? I think most of us were.

With one exception, though. Surprisingly, we trust banks more than a year ago. Apparently our collective memory is a short one. Have we already forgotten how banks got us into the recession in a first place? It seems that we made forgetting into a virtue. Wrong. It is forgiving that is a virtue, not forgetting.

Apart from our collective amnesia regarding banks, it is interesting how complex research confirms our everyday feelings about trust. It seems that we have quite a good intuition when it comes to trust. The only thing that we have to do is to ask ourselves correct questions. Which is exactly where Trust-O-Meter can be of help.

By the way. I have just run Trust-O-Meter on banks asking whether I can trust them with my money. The outcome: meager 26% (comparing with 32% reported by Edelman). Recommendation “trust only of you can accept a failure”. How true.

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Risky race to the bottom

In his blog Bryan Fite wrote something very interesting. Suppliers of various digital services face competition with providers of ‘free’ service and the first victim is information security. All that because the risk analysis went ballistic.

It seems that information services are well advanced in their specific version of the race to the bottom. Every industry must go through such a phase, usually associated with consolidations and hostile takeovers. The end result tends to be a handful of companies delivering stale, mediocre services at slightly lower prices. Like no-frills airlines.

Let’s look at the underlying vicious mechanism. Businesses and individuals can buy an information service from a more traditional service provider or can get it for free. It is of course not free, but it doe snot show up on the balance sheet.

The truth is that we pay for it in two different ways. The first one is well-known: services are cross-subsidized and our information is sold of a profit to advertisers. We do not pay only because we are being sold. Cattle also do not pay for a feed and transport to the slaughterhouse.

The second way of paying for it is that we (as well as all the providers of internet services) take increased risk without acknowledging it. For users of free services, the whole notion of risk management actually disappears. It is either the prefect operation or a total disaster, with nothing in between, and with no probability attached to either.

Think: what is the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) of Google services? Of Amazon cloud? We do not know and we will not know. So we do not know whether we are short-charged or whether we get an excellent deal. Just like that. The only thing that counts is that it is free. For as long as it works, security is of no concern. Once security becomes a problem, it will be too late to do anything.

TERM allows us to look at the trustworthiness of service providers and try to judge the risk better. It may not be a cure for our problems, but at least it acknowledges that there is a problem. From this perspective, it is better to use TERM than to wake up one day with all your information assets disappear.

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As a member of Trust Across America, I recently received a poster with 2014 weekly reflections on organisational trust. You can have your own copy from here.

One of them stroke me as being particularly true. Week 50: “The Swedish word for trust, ’tillit’, is a palindrome, highlighting the reciprocal nature of trust.”

As Trust Journey is telling us, there are two kids of trust. The first one is an asymmetric one. I trust you because you are trustworthy, but that’s the end to it. If you stop being trustworthy, I will stop trusting you. I call this trust ‘credere’, as this is how banks assess our creditworthiness. The want us to be trustworthy but they do not offer much in return.

The second, better, kind of trust is a symmetric one – ‘fides’. Here the relationship of trust is mutual: I trust and I expect you to trust me. We both grow our relationship into trust. Into ’tillit’, so to say. So if you stop being trustworthy, I will not reject you. We will both sit down and try to work it out. I will not foreclosure your house just because you have troubles paying your mortgare.

The trick is, only the symmetric form of trust is a stable one, because it is where the relationship focuses on building and sustaining trust. Asymmetric relationships have tendency to end up in a deterioration of trust, and possibly even in a breach of trust. That’s how incentives are stacked up, I am afraid.

So, follow Trust Journey towards a symmetric, reciprocal trust. Towards tillit.

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Aren’t we optimistic?

It will take five to 10 years to rebuild public trust in banks. That’s not my assessment. This is what Antony Jenkins, the Group Chief Executive of Barclays said recently . Well, he knows a thing or two, as the banking world has been plagued with problems: from mis-selling insurance to rigging exchange rates to exorbitant bonuses for under-performers. Not to mention normal problems with non-working computers or incompetent support personnel. I experienced all of those, so that I know.

It is funny that he picked 5 to 10 years for the change. It is funny because the average tenure at his level is less than five years. What he effectively said is that he will not solve the problem of the lack of trust; he will leave it to the next overpaid executive. He will just make a lot of noise about it and then will move somewhere else while collecting his large bonuses.

If I were him, I would have picked 20 years, not 10. Twenty years is the generational change. The new generation of customers come, looking for someone to trust, inexperienced in the level of greed and criminal incompetence we experienced. They are easy to be deceived and they are easy to build trust with. It is also a lot cheaper to woo a new generation than repair trust with the old one.

Meanwhile, I used Trust-O-Meter to quantify my trust in banks, including Barclays. It came at the unimpressive 20%, bearing the warning that I have to balance trust and control. That I have to be prepared to be disappointed. To have my trust breached. Not a great start.

Still, Happy New Year.

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