Should Technology Companies Be Held To A Higher Standard?

On July 29, 2020, the United States Congress’ House Committee on Judiciary will conduct a hearing titled β€œOnline Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google” under the broader Antitrust Investigation of the Rise and Use of Market Power Online and the Adequacy of Existing Antitrust Laws and Current Enforcement Levels. In this virtual hearing, Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are expected to answer questions raised by the House Committee’s Democractic and Republican members. In addition to asking questions, it is expected that House Committee members will discuss Freedom of Speech, censorship, breaking large technology companies along with the usual jabs at each other.

In my previous posts, What Questions Do You Have For Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook? and What Questions Do You Have For Sundar Pichai of Google?, I provided a list of possible questions that could be asked so that the public is aware of what is going on. In this post, I am going to provide some questions that should be asked from these technology titans as well.

Some Questions

  1. How many companies has your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) acquired that were in direct competition with your company?
  2. What did your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) do with the existing products, processes, people, services and technologies of the companies that you acquired?
  3. Can your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) provide a list of companies that still exist under your umbrella after acquisition?
  4. What procedures do you have in place to strike a balance between anti-poaching and people’s right to apply to any job that they want?
  5. What is your company’s (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) business relationships with each other?
  6. What user information do your companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) share with federal, state and local governments?
  7. What antitrust laws should be in the books for your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google)?
  8. As companies move into your cloud enviroments, what specific steps is your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) taking to safeguard against using your client’s cloud data for your own competitive advantage?
  9. What is your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) doing to safeguard against internal and external data breaches for the purpose of corporate espionage?
  10. As Artificial Intelligence (AI), takes over almost every industry, what steps is your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) taking to not be a monoply in this area?
  11. Would your company (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) take an oath aganist misuse of data?

So, what questions do you have for Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google?

Here are some of my comments as the hearing continues:

How to Map a Process Using Free Tools

Processes (or procedures) are a series of steps taken to accomplish a specific end. They can be standalone, interconnected or be part of something bigger (e.g., governance). They can be Business Processes, Information Technology (IT) processes, Systems Processes and Business Processes within IT. In organizations, there are many processes that happen sequentially and/or in parallel with other processes.

Basically, the idea of representing a process (or procedure) through a map (or diagram) is so that people can visually see what is happening. This visual representation also helps in identifying what can be improved within (and sometimes outside) the organization. Since the purpose of these maps is to convey what is going, you have to be cognizant that these maps should (1) be simple to understand, (2) help your audience connect with what they do daily to the big picture of the organization and (3) serve as a guide to what is (currently) happening and what would happen (tomorrow).

There are many ways and tools to depict a process but I have found that for most audiences the basic form of Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) works best to just get the conversation started. In regards to a free tool to draw a process, draw.io can be used which saves your process maps in your google drive or any other location that you specify.

The following is just a simplified example to illustrate how a customer may interact with Amazon.com and how this customer interaction is handled. As you would see that visually representing this process can open up a door to start a discussion for improvements. If this whole process was written and not visually represented then it would require a lot of wording and the danger that the audience might get bored or would lose interest.

Amazon Customer Process
Amazon Customer Process

Note that the process map:

  1. Has numbered rectangular activity boxes so that your audience can easily follow
  2. Numbered rectangular activity boxed need does not need to be in sequence
  3. Is a hybrid which shows the interaction between a human (customer) and Amazon.com (online system)
  4. Uses BPMN basics to convey a story

To start the process of creating a process map, it would be prudent to ask these questions. Keep in mind that the purpose of mapping a process is not to show how talented you are in creating complex process maps but rather as a starting point and even a collaboration point where you can actually provide these maps to the audience to “fix”. Lastly, have a repository to save these process maps so that they can be used a reference of (1) what is happening, (2) what should not happen and (3) what could happen.

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