By Michael Crowley Copyright 2019, All rights reserved

During the month of December, I spent a few weeksI have n NYC training several Ministry of Commerce PRC delegations to the U.S.on issues related to risk management and analysis...particularly in the retail industry.

Every analysis of technology implementation covers the "Usual Suspects" of risk associated with new technology introduced to the marketplace. At City College of New York I got a chance to focus attention on the least inspected risk...the Risk of Doing Nothing.

The first risk we examined was what I believe to be the single greatest technology risk capable of derailing the fast growing mobile online marketplace that is so critical to the growth of nearly every important market and China and the U.S This enormous risk to the online marketplace is, of course, identity thief and the inevitable loss of consumer confidence that comes with having a very personal loss of this type. This thief is uniquely upsetting to victims because it exposes the vulnerability embedded in virtually all our current online markets.

Huge private and governmental cyber security investments have done little to stop determined hackers. Even more money is being invested each day to shore up a fatally flawed system that relies upon the antiquated "Username and Password" ID's developed decades ago when the Web was largely a private governmental and university based environment that needed relatively little protection.

In this context the "Doing Nothing" technology option seems like we are actually "Doing Something" because so much money and attention is being paid to "fixing" something that is essentially "unfixable". The truth is that the continued reliance upon usernames and password is doing nothing to fix the problem. This devotion to the past is especially troubling because we already have a solution.

The Doing Something is the conversion of the current UN & PW path is to go down an entirely different path...Bio-metrics.

It is not as if Bio-metric Identification on the web is new and untested. A full array of bio-metric identification technologies have existed for decades. I personally witnessed a demonstration of retinal scans, voice identification, fingerprint analysis and palmprint analysis operating in web-based technology applications twenty years ago. Why haven't we passed legislation or taken any real steps to eliminate the dependence on UN & PW's?

The simple answer is that until most of our users converted to smartphones with high resolution cameras, sophisticated operating systems etc. we really had no practical way of implementing bio-metrics in the PC Desktop Era that is rapidly disappearing into the cyber either.

Now that we have moved into the mobile environment an iPhone or any other current smartphone has the built-in capability to use retinal scans, voice or fingerprint/palmprint or any of at least a dozen other high tech bio-metric ID solutions that can be implemented for relatively small mobile software license fees that would save billions of dollars for retailers and consumers.

Bio-metrics fingerprint ID's are already available through most smartphone manufacturers and retailers. So what is holding the market back?

There is a cost to convert for anyone implementing bio-metrics. This cost is not, however, being weighed properly against the cost of doing nothing to convert at the earliest possible time. No one wants to be the first because to go it alone means training costs, user confusion, loss of customers and the normal hiccups that generally accompany major tech roll outs.

My recommendation is to have the government make the use of UN and PW ID's illegal with reasonable a grace period for implementation. All firms would then be on exactly the same footing and incur the cost at relatively the same time. If this change-over came with substantial governmental and private education of the public I believe the transition could be fairly smooth.

After beating the drum for the conversion to Bio-metrics, we examined a whole host of other examples of how Doing Nothing was the biggest risk. There are many high profile recent examples...not the least of which was the failure, in my hometown, of Eastman Kodak to jump upon it's own digital technology solutions vs holding onto 150 year old "wet" chemical photographic technology. Kodak rode their ancient tech solution into bankruptcy despite the fact that they invented most of the digital solutions that destroyed them.

When asked for the biggest miss...the worst case of doing nothing...my son Sean Crowley, an attorney and musician made a strong case for the failure of the music industry to adopt new web technology when first threatened by Napster and others. Eventually, Apple's iPod buried the traditional music industry in the dust bin of technology history..and rightfully so.

In the absence of the traditional music industry, all musicians have had to find new and creative ways to break through the clutter vs. the old system that picked winners and losers. The internet has created a substantial number of stars (and even superstars) sadly including the likes of Justin Bieber who probably could have benefited from some better industry guidance.

This discussion led to how social media has evolved as the way new stars are discovered using homemade videos and new age promotional schemes. One change in technology always leads to other changes that are sometimes unanticipated.

Online retailers have already picked-up on this trend of using "homemade" ads and endorsements designed to be spread via Facebook, Twitter and a host of other tools available for the most creative minds in the marketplace.

If you have read this far, perhaps you will help me in my own little online retail experiment designed by my class. Would my son's Youtube music video spread faster if started on Facebook, Twitter or maybe even to the more unlikely choice...Linkedin.

The class bet that Sean's Youtube video of his new single "Learnin to Howl" would spread faster on Facebook and Twitter than on Linkedin. To make the game interesting I bet that it might spread faster on my Linkedin account. I like to win. LOL So, if you are so inclined and are a fan of old fashioned rock and roll...would you listen to and pass on "Learnin to Howl" by Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness for me. Sean is the lead singer, vocalist, guitarist and writers on this new song..

My son laughed when I told him I was going to do this...but I said to him "Sometimes Doing Something is far better risk than Doing Nothing!"

Time will tell.

Michael Crowley