Expert Witness: New vulnerabilities exposed by digital transformation

 Analogue businesses have been effectively replaced by platform business models. The transformation started with books and has migrated to music, advertising, software and retail. The platforms Amazon, Apple and Walmart among others, create trust and ease of use.  Comparative products, consumer ratings, competitive pricing are readily available. There are no real concerns about payment information being compromised or delivery problems. 

The next phase of the digital transformation could potentially occur when this digital functionality is overlaid on physical products. Suppose you are visiting a friend in another city, you happen to be nearing a shoe store and discount tickets pop onto your phone; you walk into the store and the salesman greets you by your first name and is holding the exact shoe size, color and model of the shoes you purchased two years ago that now need to be replaced. He hands you the shoes, you continue on your walk and you eventually see the charge on your next credit card statement. 

Now think of the potential of physical products themselves being transformed by adding digital functionality like sensors or software. Imagine precision farming enabled by satellite technology and sensors in the soil, or Peloton, home based fitness experience personalized by technology originally competing against gyms and now competing against a new Apple watch that has great home video workout programs and analytics.

With each phase of the digital transformation the boundaries between privacy and “the desire to participate” will become blurred. Also, if the past is any indication of the future, it will become even more difficult to protect your personal information and identity. Personal questions that you thought only you could answer, like what was the name of the first school you attended will be easily and quickly discoverable. The same software that enables facial recognition will be used to recreate your facial recognition from photographs posted in social media.
The digital transformation will reshape business but will also reshape security and create new vulnerabilities that need to be reconsidered, especially if cyber-attacks start to even become fatal. Imagine the liability if security systems or even heart pacemakers can be turned off.