How Do You Create A Seamless Channel From Offline/Physical To Online/Digital And Vice Versa?

In the video below on CxO Talk, I asked Charlie Cole, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of Tumi about how to create cohesion between offline/physical and online/digital customer experiences.

In my view, organizations of all sizes also have to be cognizant of the following:

  1. People’s attitude can affect your customer experiences
  2. Process/Flow/Organization/Order can affect your customer experiences
  3. Products of lower quality can affect your customer experiences
  4. Services that are not friendly can affect your customer experiences
  5. Technology that does not keep the customer as the focus can affect your customer experiences

The Impact Of Policy And Politics On Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is the concept that no company should be able to determine what level of services it can provide based on the content that passes through it. In other words, this means that there should be a level playing field for everyone to use the Internet and its content.

Companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon that provide the underlying Internet “pipes” as cable companies and Internet Service Providers (ISP) are now interested in producing content. From their corporate standpoint, this makes sense since these companies are exploring new areas for revenue generation to maximize profits. At the same time, this new direction also puts these companies in direct competition with content providers such as Netflix and HBO. While competition is good in the marketplace but this new direction gives the cable companies and ISPs an unfair advantage of delivering their own content faster than their competition since they own the “wire”.

For Internet technologies, the policy and political perspectives revolve around the issues of governance. These perspectives are discussed below:

Impact of Policy on Internet Technologies:

Based on the content, cable companies and ISPs will be able to prioritize which content should load faster. This content prioritization will typically entail conducting Deep Packet Inspections (DPI) where content will be thoroughly read by these corporations. As we can imagine, DPI opens the door for privacy concerns, security issues and slowing down of the Internet.

If Net Neutrality is eliminated and the wire owners are given the capability to direct the network traffic as they please based on their own criterions then this would become a governance nightmare for the government. How would the government be able to regulate this unfair competition? How would the government be even able to find out about this unfair competition? How would the government manage the processes of net neutrality? How would the government know if security policies have been violated and private information has been compromised? How would the government even know who to go after since there could be a point where the content providers could blame the wire owners of slow traffic while wire owners could blame content providers for creating content that is not “optimized”. These are questions that the government has to consider to have effective governance that everyone can adhere to.

For governments, the elimination of Net Neutrality will entail developing policies, regulations, and technologies that monitor cable companies and ISPs to reduce the unfair advantage. Where would this authority come from? Where would the budget come from to create effective monitoring tools? Elimination of Net Neutrality leaves us more questions than answers and in a marketplace, without oversight, this could be a wild wild west where organizations create their own rules to eliminate the competition.

Impact of Politics on Internet Technologies:

The impact of Internet Technologies from a political perspective is noteworthy. The corporations that are pushing for the elimination of Net Neutrality are rich telecom organizations with big lobbying money and election donations. While I am not suggesting that lawmakers have been bought outright but something does not fit well. Why would lawmakers oppose an open Internet that has given us companies like Google and Yahoo! that created numerous job opportunities for US citizens?

For governments that are responsible for governing wire owners can be affected by the political maneuvering of lawmakers. This can produce challenges for effective governance. How can effective governance happen when the lawmaker wants more business in the state where these big corporations are located and provide campaign funding. For Internet technologies, this means that these technologies might not only have to comply with existing standards of packet deliveries and their flows but also might need to adhere to rules set by wire owners which might play politics and set in motion even that would be difficult to recover from.

As we can see that the policy and political perspectives are highly related and cannot be seen separately.  For government, corporations, and individuals the lack of neutrality will mean an end of an era of prosperity that we saw from the Internet revolution.

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Net Neutrality and Quality of Service

Net Neutrality is the concept that no company should be able to determine what level of services it can provide based on the content that passes through it. In other words, this means that there should be a level playing field for everyone to use the Internet and its content.

Companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon that provide the underlying Internet “wires” as cable companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are now interested in producing content. From their corporate standpoint, this makes sense since these companies are exploring new areas for revenue generation to maximize profits. At the same time, this new direction also puts these companies in direct competition with content providers such as Netflix and HBO. While competition is good in the marketplace but this new direction gives the cable companies and ISPs an unfair advantage of delivering their own content faster than their competition since they own the wire.

From a network management perspective, in order to eliminate Net Neutrality, cable companies and ISPs would be looking at Quality of Service (QoS) specifically related to network traffic shaping and metrics.

Traffic Shaping – The main purpose of traffic shaping is to restrict network traffic entering the network at access points. This is done to prevent overloading of the network and to assign queuing priorities based on complex algorithms. Depending upon corporate preferences these algorithms can filter content that is deemed not necessary and assign certain percentages of capacity to some applications. What this means from a Net Neutrality point of view is that cable companies and ISPs can completely filter out their competitor’s content, can significantly slow competitor’s content and increase the percentage capacity of their own applications.

The big question is not if this will happen but what can the government do to monitor this and prevent this from happening. Due to the current state of government budgets, I would argue that the government would not be actively monitoring the networks but instead be more reactive and wait on complaints from cable companies and ISPs competitors. Even if these complaints are legitimate and can indicate unfair competition, the loss of revenue during litigation might be insurmountable for these competitors. Thus, not only would these competitors be slowly eliminated but also prevent future competitors from coming into the market place since they will be aware that cable companies and ISPs would have an unfair advantage of manipulating network traffic.

Metrics – In order to measure QoS, we need to have certain metrics. These metrics help us compare and contrast to understand and improve services. Additionally, these metrics also arm us with information that can be used to make decisions as individuals and organizations. What this means from a Net Neutrality point of view is that cable companies and ISPs can increase or decrease the QoS simply based on their own criterions. These criterions might include affecting the availability of a competitor’s network, increasing error rates due to retransmission, affecting latency and jitter where competitor’s customer satisfaction declines, slow loading of applications and creating Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that guarantee best services to only a select few who can afford premium prices.

For larger and well-funded organizations, the manipulation of QoS metrics with the help from cable companies and ISPs would guarantee their survival and drastically reduce the startup mentality that new companies embrace to fully utilize the power of the Internet as a fair playground for everyone to compete in. For a regular consumer, they might not see how these mafia-style tactics would affect them but in the long-term by the time they realize it would be too late and they would be left with only a few choices from whom they get their services from. Eventually, this lack of choice would result in customers feeling helpless and questioning why there are not any innovative companies out there to increase competition. The reason unbeknown to the customers would be how large corporate lobbying and individual self-interest twisted the arms of the government to create an unfair advantage for them decades down the road.

In conclusion, the concept of free and openness, the very basis that the United States was based on under its constitution is being threatened in the age of the Internet. Not only would Net Neutrality affect domestic competition but it also significantly affect global growth since most of the Internet wires are owned by US-owned corporations. Perhaps this is a way to stay competitive by being unfair to the rest of the world. At the end of the day, the power of the individual would be taken away and the power of the select few will continue to increase. Perhaps it is time to have leaders who can understand technology in a global context and not be afraid of healthy global competition.

References:

  1. http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~raylin/whatisnetneutrality.htm
  2. http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/downloads/20120611-NetworkNeutrality.pdf