Modern society is a miracle of consumer efficiency. I can listen to a song on the radio, or in a crowded room, and I can use an application on my smartphone to listen to the song and identify, from a library of tens of millions of tracks, which song it is. I can then instruct my smartphone to buy that music track. Money trades hands instantly from my bank account and I have the song, within seconds, downloaded onto my phone. Of course, digital goods like movies, software, and music are relatively easy to move, but this same deep efficiency is manifesting in the physical realm as well. I can scan QR codes on thousands of products in any supermarket to compare prices. I can use Amazon one-touch impulse purchasing for millions of items, stored in their warehouses and I can use FedEx to track, in real-time, how soon they’ll be delivered to me. Alibaba’s record breaking IPO this week reminds us that large level purchases, business-to-business scale purchases of large lots, also benefit from a seamless exchange of buyers and sellers.
Truly, the world we live in is a near miracle of logistical sophistication, but there is an obvious danger to all this seamless, unhindered access between buyers, sellers, and money custodians: security. It seems that we cannot go for an entire month without an announcement of a large-scale hack from identity thieves, eager for credit card numbers or other private information. We are disappointed with the security weakness from large retailers, like Target and Home Depot, and I’m annoyed that I have to sign up for credit monitoring. However, I am genuinely surprised that the largest technology firms with the greatest resources – technical savvy and large piles of available cash – are not spared from these embarrassing breaches in security. Technology divisions like Sony Online, eBay and, most recently, Apple’s cloud storage options have all been hacked successfully recently.
There is no going backward. Automation and integration with identity management and money transference is not going to stop despite these high-profile security failures. Given the deep savings corporate American will yield from the new efficiencies, isn’t it worth allocating some of that freed up capital back into security?