Archive for Cloud

Google Announces New ‘Teachable Machine 2.0’ No-Code Machine Learning Model Generator

Two years on from its first incarnation, Google has announced the introduction of its ‘Teachable Machine 2.0’, a no-code custom machine learning model generating platform that can be used by anyone and requires no coding experience.

First Version

Back in 2017, Google introduced its first version of Teachable Machine which enabled anyone to teach their computer to recognise images using a webcam. This first version enabled many children and young people to gain their first experience of training their own machine learning model i.e. teaching their computer how to recognise patterns in data (images) and assign new data to categories.

Teachable Machine 2.0

Google’s new ‘Teachable Machine 2.0’ is a browser-based system that records from the user’s computer’s webcam and microphone, and with the click of a ‘train’ button (no coding required), it can be trained to recognise images, sounds or poses.  This enables the user to quickly and easily create their own custom machine learning models which they can download and use on their own device or upload and host online.

Fear-Busting and Confidence

One of the key points that Google wants to emphasise is that the no-code, click-of-a-button aspect of this machine learning model generator can instil confidence in young users that they are able to successfully use advanced computer technology creatively without coding experience.  This, as Google mentions on its blog, has been identified as being important by parents of girls as girls face challenges in becoming interested in and finding available jobs in computer science.

What Can It Be Used For?

In addition to being used as a teaching aid, examples of how Teachable Machine 2.0 has been used include:

  • Improving communication for people with impaired speech. For example, this has been done by turning recorded voice samples into spectrograms that can be used to “train” a computer system to better recognise less common types of speech
  • Helping with game design.
  • Making physical sorting machines. For, example, Google’s own project has used Teachable Machine to create a model that can classify and sort objects.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The UK has a tech skills shortage that has been putting pressure on UK businesses that are unable to find skilled people to drive innovation and tech product and service development forward.  A platform that enables young people to feel more confident and creative in using the latest technologies from a young age without being thwarted by the need for coding could lead to more young people choosing computer science in further and higher education and seeking careers in IT.  This, in turn, could help UK businesses.

No-coding solutions such as Teachable Machine 2.0 represent a way of democratising app and software development and utilising ideas and creativity that may have previously been suppressed by a lack of coding experience.  Businesses always need creativity and innovation in order to create new opportunities and competitive advantage and Teachable Machine 2.0 may be one small step in helping that to happen further down the line.

Microsoft Beats Amazon to $10 Billion AI Defence Contract for ‘Jedi’

After a long and difficult bidding process, Amazon has lost out to Microsoft in the battle to win a $10bn (£8bn) US Defence Department AI and Cloud computing contract.

For ‘Jedi’

The contract was for the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (Jedi).  This infrastructure will be designed to enable US forces to get fast access to important Cloud-held data from whichever battlefield they are on. The project will also see AI being used to enhance and speed up the delivery of data to US forces, thereby potentially giving them an advantage.

Amazon Was Thought To Be In Front…Before Trump Comments

Amazon, led by Jeff Bezos, was believed by many tech commentators to have been the front-runner of the two tech giants in the battle for the contract as it is the biggest provider of cloud-computing services.  Also, Amazon had already won an important computing services contract with the CIA in 2013 and is already a supplier of cloud services and technologies to thousands of U.S. agencies.

Unfortunately for Amazon, in August the Pentagon appeared to put the brakes on the final decision-making process following concerns expressed by President Trump.

The President is reported to have said back in July that he was concerned about the contact not being “competitively bid” and that he had heard “complaints” about the contract with Amazon and the Pentagon.

The President, however, was not the only one with concerns as tech giant Oracle (which was also in the running for the contract at one point) had gone to the federal court earlier in the year with allegations (which were dismissed) that the bidding process had been rigged in Amazon’s favour.

Difficult Relationship

Many media reports have suggested that a difficult relationship between President Trump and Jeff Bezos in the past has possibly had some influence on the outcome of the Pentagon’s decision about the project.  For example, Mr Bezos has been criticised before by President Trump, and Mr Bezos also owns the Washington Post.  President Trump has been critical of several news outlets, such as CNN, the New York Times, and The Washington Post.  For example, it has been reported by the Wall Street Journal that President Trump has now instructed his agencies not to renew their subscriptions to those newspapers.

Great News For Microsoft

Winning the contract is, of course, good news for Microsoft which will receive a large amount of U.S. Defence funds for the Jedi contact, and possibly for another defence -related multi-billion-dollar contract (‘Deos’) to supply cloud-based Office 365.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

With a contract of this value up for grabs and the possibility of further lucrative contracts too, this was never going to be a clean and uncomplicated fight between the tech giants.  In this case, however, it being a defence contract, one of the key influencers was the U.S. President and it appears that his relationship with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos along with other factors may have played a part in Microsoft coming out on top.  The size and complexity of the contract meant that it was only ever going to be something for the big, established tech names, and Microsoft winning the contract was undoubtedly an important victory against its competitor Amazon, will add value to its brand, will bring in a sizeable source of revenue at a time when it’s already seen a 21 per cent rise in its profits on last year, and puts Microsoft in a much closer 2nd position behind Amazon’s AWS in the cloud computing services market.

Why You May Be Cautious About Installing The Latest Windows 10 Update

Some of Microsoft’s enterprise-based customers may be feeling cautious about installing the latest Windows 10 update because Microsoft warns that it could stop the Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service from running.

The Update and Warning

The update in question is the October 15, 2019 KB4520062 (OS Build 17763.832).  The update contains a long list of improvements and fixes (see here for full details: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4520062/windows-10-update-kb4520062), but also three known issues, one of which concerns the Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service.

What Is The ATP?

The ATP is a paid-for service, for Microsoft Enterprise customers (not Home or Pro customers) that’s designed to help enterprise networks prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to advanced threats. It offers features like endpoint behavioural sensors embedded in Windows 10, Cloud security analytics and access to threat intelligence generated by Microsoft hunters, security teams, and augmented by threat intelligence provided by Microsoft’s partners.

What’s The Issue With the Update?

In the update’s release notes Microsoft says, “We suggest that devices in an affected environment do not install this optional non-security update”.

The reason given for the warning is that installing the update could mean that the ATP service could stop running and may fail to send reporting data.  This could mean that certain enterprise customers are more exposed to security threats until a solution has been found.

Microsoft also warns that an error (0xc0000409) may be received in MsSense.exe.

Not Fixed Until November

Microsoft says that although it’s working on a resolution it estimates that it won’t have a solution to the problem until November.

One of Several Update Problems Recently

This is one of several updates from Microsoft recently that have come with problems.  For example, an update on the 16th of September was reported to have caused issues with Windows Defender.  Later in September, Microsoft had to issue two emergency Windows updates to protect against some serious vulnerabilities relating to Internet Explorer and Windows Defender (anti-virus software).

Also, the October 3 update is reported to have adversely affected the Start Menu and print spooler, and the Start Menu issues were reported to be still present following the 8 October update.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Although Home and Pro customers need not worry about this particular issue, Microsoft’s valued Enterprise customers, who have paid for the ATP service to help stay ahead of the game in security may be a little worried and frustrated at having to either wait until November to enjoy the improvements of the new (optional) update in safety, or install it now and risk the loss of their ATP service and face the associated potential security risks.

Microsoft customers seem to have suffered several problems related to updates in recent months, and Enterprise customers are likely to be those that Microsoft particularly does not want to upset.  It is likely, therefore, that Microsoft will be focusing of getting an appropriate solution to the new update issues before November if possible.

Report Says Public Cloud May Double In Just Four Years

The new cloud market report from the Synergy Research Group shows that cloud-associated markets, such as the public cloud, are growing at rates ranging from 10% to over 40% and the annual spending on the cloud may double in four years.

IaaS & PaaS Biggest Growth

Synergy’s half-yearly report shows that, across the seven key cloud service and infrastructure market segments, revenues for operator and vendors in the first half of 2019 exceeded $150 billion, which is a rise in growth of 24% from the first half of 2018.

The biggest area of growth in the cloud infrastructure sector was in the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) market segments where there was a massive 44% growth rate.  IaaS is online, virtualised computing resources over the internet, and PaaS is where a provider hosts the hardware and software on its own infrastructure with PaaS products enabling developers to build custom applications online without having to worry about data serving, storage, and management.

The Synergy report also showed growth rates of enterprise SaaS at 27%, UCaaS at 23% and hosted private cloud infrastructure services at 20%.  The report also shows that spending on cloud services is now much greater than spending on supporting data centre infrastructure.

Infrastructure Investments

In the first half of 2019, cloud service provides spent $55 billion on the hardware and software used to build cloud infrastructure (evenly split between public and private clouds).  These infrastructure investments helped cloud service providers to generate over $90 billion in revenues from their cloud infrastructure services (IaaS, PaaS, hosted private cloud services) and enterprise SaaS.

Leaders

The Synergy report shows that the leaders in the IaaS and PaaS segments in the first half of 2019 are Microsoft, Amazon/AWS, Dell EMC, Cisco, HPE and Google.  Back in February, Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) reported a massive 45% growth in the revenue of the fourth quarter, mostly fuelled by big profits in its public cloud arm.

Other big names in that market segment include Salesforce, Adobe, VMware, IBM, Digital Realty, Equinix and Rackspace.

All these big players together account for over half of all cloud-related revenues.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The public cloud is being embraced by businesses as they seek to outsource and ditch traditional capital investment and maintenance problems and costs while reaping the benefits of having the pay-as-you-go scalability, security, and outsourced expertise that allows them to free up more of their own resources.  Cloud service providers are now investing heavily to win large slices of the cloud market with Amazon and Microsoft as market leaders, and as the Synergy report shows, this investment is delivering big revenues and impressive growth rates, particularly in the IaaS and PaaS market segments.

IBM To Offer Largest Quantum Computer Available For External Access Via Cloud

IBM has announced that it is opening a Quantum Computation Centre in New York which will bring the world’s largest fleet of quantum computing systems online, including the new 53-Qubit Quantum System for broad use in the cloud.

Largest Universal Quantum System For External Access

The new 53-quantum bit/qubit model is the 14th system that IBM offers, and IBM says that it is the single largest universal quantum system made available for external access in the industry, to date. This new system will (within one month) give its users the ability to run more complex entanglement and connectivity experiments.

IBM Q

It was back in March 2017 that IBM announced that it was about to offer a service called IBM Q that would be the first time that a universal quantum computer had been commercially available, giving access to (and use of) a powerful, universal quantum computer, via the cloud.

Since then, a fleet composed of five 20-qubit systems, one 14-qubit system, and four 5-qubit systems have been made available, and since 2016 IBM says that a global community of users have run more than 14 million experiments on their quantum computers through the cloud, leading to the publishing of more than 200 scientific papers.

Who?

Although most uses of quantum computers have been for isolated lab experiments, IBM is keen to make quantum computing widely available in the cloud to tens of thousands of users, thereby empowering what it calls “an emerging quantum community of educators, researchers, and software developers that share a passion for revolutionising computing”.

Why?

The hope is that by making quantum computing more widely available, it could lead to greater innovation, more scientific discoveries e.g. new medicines and materials, improvements in the optimisation of supply chains, and even better ways to model financial data leading to better investments which could have an important and positive knock-on effect in businesses and economies.

Partners

Some of the partners and clients that IBM says it has already worked with its quantum computers include:

  • J.P. Morgan Chase for ‘Option Pricing’ – a way to price financial options and portfolios. The method devised using the quantum computer has speeded things up dramatically so that financial analysts can now perform option pricing and risk analysis in near real-time.
  • Mitsubishi Chemical, Keio University and IBM, on a simulation related to reactions in lithium-air batteries which could lead to making more efficient batteries for mobile devices or automotive vehicles.

Quantum Risk?

Back in November 2018, however, security architect for Benelux at IBM, Christiane Peters, warned of the possible threat of commercially available quantum computers being used by criminals to try and crack encrypted business data.

As far back as 2015 in the US, the National Security Agency (NSA) warned that progress in quantum computing was at such a point that organisations should deploy encryption algorithms that can withstand such attacks from quantum computers.

The encryption algorithms that can stand up to attacks from quantum computers are known by several names including post-quantum cryptography / quantum-proof cryptography, and quantum-safe / quantum-resistant cryptographic (usually public-key) algorithms.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The ability to use a commercially available quantum computer via the cloud will give businesses and organisations an unprecedented opportunity to solve many of their most complex problems, develop new and innovative potentially industry-leading products and services and perhaps discover new, hitherto unthought-of business opportunities, all without needed to invest in hitherto prohibitively expensive hardware themselves. The 14 hugely powerful systems now available to the wider computing and business community could offer the chance to develop products that could provide a real competitive advantage in a much shorter amount of time and at much less cost than traditional computer architecture and R&D practices previously allowed.

As with AI, just as new technologies and innovative services can be used for good, their availability could also mean that in the wrong hands they could be used to pose a new threat that’s very difficult for most business to defend against. Quantum computing service providers, such as IBM, need to ensure that the relevant checks, monitoring and safeguards are in place to protect the wider business community and economy against a potentially new and powerful threat.

Grammar Correction Capabilities For Gmail and G Suite

Google has announced that it is rolling out new real-time, AI-powered spelling and grammar correction capabilities for G Suite users and personal Gmail accounts.

Real-Time, As-You-Type

The real-time, as-you-type spelling autocorrection is now available to all G Suite users and personal Gmail accounts, but the Grammar suggestion feature is only available to G Suite users.

Autocorrection Spelling

The new features use AI to spot and highlight mistakes with spelling and grammar, and even the use of tenses.

The autocorrection spelling feature uses coloured (red) squiggly underlines to highlight spelling mistakes, the mistakes can be auto-corrected, and the changes are temporarily underlined in grey so that you can see the difference between the two.

Grammar

The AI-powered grammar correction feature, which has previously been available in Google Docs, uses a squiggly blue line to highlight errors in grammar, and pop-ups appear to help make changes to the grammar and allow the user to mark them as correct or switch them back to how they were.

Default

The autocorrect spell-check feature has been added as a default and if users want to turn it off, they can do so by going to Gmail’s Settings > General and then turn off Grammar, Spelling, and Autocorrect.

Benefits

The benefits to users could be the ability to work smarter and faster, make a better impression with their communications, and learn more about correct spelling and grammar and use the knowledge to feel more confident in their writing over time.

Competition

These new features are, however, in competition with, and could affect profits for other third-party spelling and grammar services e.g. Grammarly which relies upon users opting to use an upgrade to a freemium service.

Texting To Blame?

Ofcom figures showing that teenagers, young adults and adults chose text-based communications as their preferred way of communication highlight one of the reasons why many people believe that mobile phone usage, with its reliance on auto-correct, is partly to blame for a decline in the standards of spelling and grammar that has necessitated a further need for more sophisticated AI-based tools.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For third-party spelling and grammar apps such as Grammarly, this move by Google could reduce the value of (and the perceived need for) their services.

For business users of Google’s services (G Suite and Gmail) these kinds of tools could help save time and improve the quality and consistency of their communications which in turn could positively reflect on their brands.

For Google, these new features could provide an improved experience for their users and add more loyalty and perceived value to Google’s range of services.

Some critics have, however, noted that these features could homogenise the way that we write, could raise privacy concerns, and that the AI technology could also be subject to bias in its suggestions.

Scientists Discover How To Store Data On Matter Smaller Than DNA

Scientists from Brown University are reported to have discovered how to store data on metabolic molecules, which are pieces of matter that are even smaller than DNA.

Storage In Artificial Metabolomes  

The results of the recent research announced on the Brown University website and published in the PLOS ONE journal describe how researchers have discovered a way to store/encode and retrieve kilobyte-scale image files from artificial metabolomes which are arrays of liquid mixtures containing sugars, amino acids and other types of small molecules.  Some of these small molecules are smaller and have greater information density than DNA.

According to the researchers, although DNA is best for encoding larger datasets, the small molecule metabolite data method has low latency so that data sets can be written and read quickly.  The small molecule method is, however, still slower than traditional computers.

DNA Storage Research Not New

Research into storing data in DNA is not new.  For example, back in 2013 scientists in Cambridge spelt out a collection of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets in DNA.

Also, last September UK scientists developed a technique to enable them to store computer files on DNA.  Scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute developed a method whereby the basis of digital data, which is made up of ones and zeros, is changed into their own code as Cs, Gs, and Ts.

This converted code was sent to a US laboratory, which turned the letter code into physical DNA so that it could act like an incredibly small hard drive. The laboratory used DNA synthesis machines to transform the code into physical material in a similar way to how an inkjet printer lays down ink on paper. The physical result was a tiny piece of dust with the vital digital data stored inside. An estimated 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) of data could be stored in a single gram of DNA.

Why?

The reasons for developing ways to store data in DNA and even smaller molecules are that we are generating vast quantities of data with no practical and cost-effective way to store it for the future.  For example, it is estimated that there are now 3 zettabytes (3000 billion bytes) of digital data, with more being generated all the time. Storage media such as hard disks are expensive and require a constant supply of expensive electricity, and even the best ‘no-power’ archiving materials e.g. magnetic tape degrade within a decade.

The advantages of DNA and smaller molecules for storage are that:

  • Sensitive data stored in DNA and other small molecules won’t be vulnerable to hacking.
  • Data stored in this way could survive in harsher climates and environments where traditional hardware can’t.
  • DNA provides a highly effective, ultra-compact space-saving solution, that doesn’t require large amounts of costly electricity.
  • DNA can keep for hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place. Data stored in DNA won’t degrade over time, and it can be decoded relatively easily.
  • DNA won’t become obsolete, and unlike other high-density approaches, new technologies can write and read large amounts of DNA in one go.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The incredible science involved in this could give businesses a way to store and back up vast amounts of data in a very convenient and secure way (safe from hackers) with dramatically reduced space, equipment, and electricity costs, and with the assurance that the data could be stored, without decay, for many thousands of years.  Some tech commentators have estimated that commercial DNA storage devices may be on shelves in the next few years.

You could be forgiven for thinking, however, that DNA storage of data sounds (and probably will be) expensive, and it may be the case that most businesses will be sticking to cloud storage for quite some time yet.

Visa Adopts Blockchain For Cross-Border, Bank To Bank B2B Payments

Visa is integrating blockchain technology with its core systems to enable participant businesses to make direct, cross-border, bank to bank payments to other corporate participants.

B2B Connect

The news system called Visa B2B Connect is being built using the Hyperledger Fabric framework from the Linux Foundation, and will mean that, rather than paying another corporate by cheque, automated clearing house or wire transfer, all of which require intermediary banks and exchanges, payments can be made directly and instantly from bank to bank of corporate customers.

This will mean cost and time savings, and the ability to pay and get paid 24-hours a day, regardless of location, local time differences, and other problematic traditional banking anomalies such as data truncation, payment delays and compliance issues.

Suite of APIs

The Visa B2B Connect system essentially provides a suite of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which allow participating banks to automate B2B, cross-border and cross-currency payments, by developing an end-to-end B2B payments solution to onboard customers, set up their suppliers, check Visa B2B Connect foreign exchange rates and submit payments. Alternatively, banks can choose to integrate just a subset of the APIs to address more specific needs e.g. checking on the status of certain payments through the Visa B2B Connect site.

Expansion Plans

Although the new system will only work for those corporates signed-up as participants to Visa’s pilot scheme, there are already plans to expand it so that it will cover more than 30 global trade corridors and 90 markets by the end of this year.

Benefits

The benefits that the blockchain-based B2B Connect system offers include cryptographically secured B2B transactions, transaction transparency and predictability, and the peace of mind and security of operating within a trusted network where all parties are known participants on a permissioned blockchain operated by Visa.

Blockchain Lacking Functionality

Recent research by Gartner showed that Only 11% of CIOs have deployed or are in short-term planning with blockchain, partly because of the fact that, at the moment, blockchain is a technology and not a complete, ready to use application, and therefore, lacks business-friendly features like a user interface, business logic, data persistence and interoperability mechanisms.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For corporates, Visa’s B2B Connect system appears to unlock some of the long-promised benefits of blockchain in terms of fast and easy cross-border payments, security, transparency, and the reassurance of a trusted name in the payments world.  Also, the fact that a suite of APIs are available to participants means that the system can be set up relatively easily, thereby tackling the issue (as highlighted by the Gartner research) of confusion among corporate tech heads about how best to incorporate blockchain and worries about there being few ready to use, complete applications available.

For smaller businesses the hope of being able to use blockchain to add value, reduce costs and gain competitive advantages is being boosted by a growing Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) market which offers the chance to deploy distributed ledgers without the cost or risk of deploying it in-house, and without needing to find in-house developers.  The cloud-based CRM platform ‘Salesforce’ for example, is adding a low code, blockchain-powered service that will allow enterprise users to share data with third parties in a secure, transparent, and auditable way.

Premium, Paid For Version Of Mozilla’s Firefox Planned

It has been reported that Mozilla will be introducing a (paid for) premium subscription-based Firefox service this October to run alongside the free, open-source Firefox browser.

Why?

Mozilla’s share of the (free) browser market has been squeezed by some heavy competition from Google’s Chrome browser and although the Firefox browser is present on many computers and is used to sell people services, it isn’t actually making Mozilla any money.  Also, Mozilla relies heavily on revenue that it receives from search companies that pay to be featured in the Firefox browser, with much of that money coming from its competitor Google. Mozilla, therefore, is looking to diversify and find a way to build its own additional independent revenue stream from the bundling of value-adding services that it already has.

What?

Reports indicate that the new paid for bundled service could include:

  • VPN bandwidth that exceeds what’s available (free) via Mozilla’s ProtonMail VPN partnership i.e. giving paying customers for its new service access to a premium level VPN bandwidth.
  • An as yet, unspecified allotment of secure cloud storage.

Other possible parts of the bundled subscription service could include (although this has not been confirmed):

  • Mozilla’s free file transfer service “Firefox Send”.
  • Mozilla’s password manager “Lockwise”.
  • Firefox Monitor, Mozilla’s service, similar to HaveIBeenPwned.com, which allows you to check whether your personal information has been compromised by any of the numerous data breaches.
  • The “Pocket” application, also known as “Read It Later” which helps with managing a reading list of articles from the Internet by letting you save web pages and videos to Pocket in just one click. Mozilla acquired this service in 2017, and it already has a Premium version available for $45 per year.
  • Tools from ‘Scroll’ (a start-up working with Mozilla) that could result in users of the new premium service getting access to certain news sites.

How Much?

Current reports indicate that the premium Firefox service could cost users around the $10 per month mark.

Still Free Firefox

Mozilla has announced that it won’t charge for existing Firefox features as part of its shift to offering subscription services and that the free Firefox browser will continue to run as normal.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For Mozilla, this offers a way to diversify and generate a stream of revenue that isn’t connected to Google and monetises the synergies that it can get from a bundle of some of the products and services that it already owns. It’s also another way to compete in a tough browser market where there is one very strong and dominant market leader that already monetises popular advertising services that display across other browsers and platforms.

For users, access to a premium level VPN bandwidth and secure cloud storage from a known and trusted brand may justify a monthly subscription, particularly with some of the other value-adding services that could be bundled in and may not have been tried businesses to date.

Trust Challenge For Online Sharing Services

The Global Trust Survey from service provider Jumio has revealed that a quarter of adults feel unsafe using online sharing services.

What Are Online Sharing Services?

Online sharing services refers to companies like Uber and Airbnb where multiple users can use technology to book and consume a shared offering (car and room sharing), and where those offering the service can increase the utilisation of an asset – both parties get value from the exchange. The so-called “sharing economy” also includes services such as crowdfunding, personal services, and video and audio streaming.

The Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is expected to grow to a massive $335 billion by 2020. For example, in just 11 years, Airbnb has grown from nothing to becoming a $30bn firm listing more than six million rooms, flats and houses in more than 81,000 cities across the globe. Figures show that, on average, two million people use an Airbnb property each night.

Trust Challenge Revealed

Jumio’s Global Trust Survey showed that even though online sharing services are growing, and have been with us for some time now, in the 30 days prior to the survey taking place, over 80% of UK adults said that they hadn’t used an online sharing service, and 25% of UK adults said that they felt “somewhat unsafe” or “not at all safe” when using online sharing services.

A key element in making shared services successful is trust, and recent global from PwC confirmed this where 89% of consumers agreed that the sharing economy marketplace is based on trust between providers and users.

Identity Verification Vital

One area uncovered by the Global Trust and Safety Survey which appears to be a challenge for shared services is proving and verifying identity.  For example, the survey found that 60% of users believe it is either ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important’ for new users to undergo an identity check to prove that they are who they claim to be.

This is the reason why companies such as Lyft are rolling out continuous background checks and enhanced identity verification, and why Uber is updating its app to give an alert to riders to check the license plate, make, and model of the vehicle, and to confirm the name and picture of the driver.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Trust is something that takes a long time for a business to build, and it is a vital element in the success of shared services such as those where considerable risk (financial and, critically, personal risk) is involved. Trust is also something that can be very easily lost, sometimes in an instant or through one high profile incident involving that service e.g. the recent murder in the US of a student by a man posing as an Uber driver.

The results of the Global Trust Survey help to remind businesses that offer shared services that consumers need and want a layer of safety to help them feel comfortable in trying and using those services.  Companies can, therefore, help create an ecosystem of trust through the process of identity verification.