How Competition Affects Trust In The Workplace

Competition is widely believed to have a corrosive impact on trust, but what happens when that competition comes from a rival firm? Does the external "threat" bind us together? That was the conclusion reached by a recent study from the University of British Columbia, Princeton University and Aix-Marseille University.

The researchers collected data from the manufacturing sector in both the United States and Germany, and it emerged that the more intense the competition within the sector, the more likely it was for pro-social behaviors, such as cooperation and knowledge sharing, within each company.

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What Do Experts Say About the Cloud for 2018?

As the cloud continues to grow and expand, more and more businesses are embracing the cloud and making use of all of the advantages that are offered. Recent years have been filled with much innovation in storage, scaling, and security, along with the addition of container tools such as Docker and Kubernetes.

“In 2018, pure technological wizardry will no longer be the driving force behind the cloud because business customers, first intrigued and then enchanted by what the cloud can do, have made the intellectual and psychological leap to fully accepting the cloud as their primary IT strategy and foundation for the future.” —Bob Evans, Forbes

As noted in the above quote, organizations are now engaged in the cloud and are less likely to need convincing to make the switch. Instead, they will be more interested in what is offered among the cloud vendors that most suits their needs. With this in mind, what are some things we may expect to see in the world of the cloud for 2018?

Competition on the Rise

“Right now, public cloud operations are a black box. But the European GDPR requirements will hit in 2018, and advanced enterprise users are becoming more sophisticated in their cloud strategies and need to be able to differentiate their offerings based on the customer experience they provide. As a result, public cloud vendors will be forced to reveal more about how and where specific data packets are hopping through their cloud networks.” —Steven Mih, CEO of Aviatrix Systems 

Given that cloud adoption is happening and will continue to grow, competition will become even more heated for all of the new customers looking to make the transition. Since much has been done with technological innovation, winning those new customers may come down to familiar things such as customer service, good product offerings, and pricing.

With many cloud vendors to choose from, these new customers can certainly do their research, so vendors will need to be sure they are on top of things that might make the difference in which service a customer chooses. Customer service is definitely one of those, so it will likely be a good idea for vendors to ensure they are offering the best service possible to their customers.

Hybrid Cloud on the Rise

Although hybrid clouds have been talked about for a very long time, they will become a “thing” in 2018. As consolidations and partnerships accelerate, and as workload portability becomes an imperative for Azure and GCP, we will witness many new services where customers will be able to run their own private clouds and seamlessly connect with Azure or GCP for additional capacity on demand. Partners like Cisco, HPE, Dell, and VMware will participate in this thing wholeheartedly to ensure a prolonged revenue stream from their existing products.”                           —Dimitri Stiliadis, CEO of Aporeto

With more and more organizations making the move, many will want to have some portion of their cloud environment be their own private cloud in order to further protect particular resources and information.

For some companies, the ability to have a hybrid cloud setup could be the difference between making the transition or not. Cloud vendors that can integrate well with private clouds to make having a hybrid cloud easy for customers should stand to benefit from this.

Security Will Still Dominate

“We expect 2018 will see more individual and state-sponsored attacks aimed at undermining the security of cloud infrastructures. As cyber attackers become more sophisticated, security analysts in government, public, and private sectors will also have to become more sophisticated and timely in their methods for detecting and preventing attacks.”           —NetworkWorld

As always, security will be a key concern and yet another thing that could be the deciding factor in a potential customer making the transition to the cloud. With all the attacks that could arise, it is imperative that cloud vendors make security a top priority again — for 2018 and into the future. Since security will never be something that can be ignored, it certainly is a good idea for cloud vendors to put great efforts into making sure their cloud infrastructures are as safe as possible from any potential breaches.

While cloud adoption will continue to rise, it looks like 2018 could be a year for competition among cloud vendors. The difference may come down to which vendors can offer the best combination of price, security, and customer service, which in the end is good for those organizations which are seeking to make the cloud transition in the new year!

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Implications and Goals of EU Competition Chief’s Big Data Proposals

Big data is changing the nature of business in Europe, which has not escaped the attention of regulators. The EU Competition Chief has announced that it will take stronger measures to ensure that big data is used fairly.

While the proposal seems practical, there are questions about the effectiveness and unintended consequences of such regulations. Regulators and industry experts are debating the exact nature of the looming big data regulations.

Goals of the EU Competition Chief’s New Big Data Policies

In 2016, the EDPS-BEUC Conference on Big Data in Brussels highlighted some of the concerns surrounding big data. The EU Competition Chief is finally implementing some of the proposed changes, but this has drawn scrutiny from industry groups.

What are the issues that these policies must address? 

Ensuring Equal Access to Big Data

In order to ensure a fair and competitive market, EU regulators must ensure all brands have access to the same data. Critics argue that this is a moot point because the vast majority of big data is already publicly available. SMEs have access to the same credit information, social media algorithms, and government statistics as their larger counterparts.

Debating the Competitive Advantage of Analytical Capabilities

Many big data experts contend that data itself isn’t responsible for any company’s competitive advantage, but rather companies gain an edge by analyzing the same data better than their competitors. This is the case with large financial companies, particularly in Forex and CFD trading. CFD investors use big data to track major market trends and place trades accordingly.

EU regulators will need to address this reality if they hope to create competitive equilibrium with fair policy. However, it is unclear what policies could possibly address this. Counterarguments to this point include:

  • Would the EU Competition Chief need to limit the resources that organizations invest in data analysis? Taken too far, this policy could curb productivity and lead to lower-quality goods and services for consumers.
  • Would less-established companies need to be given access to similar big data resources? This could artificially inflate poorly performing companies that should fail to the hands of the free market.

The competition regulator will need to consider all nuances in this discussion.

How Will the Policies Affect Foreign Companies Doing Business in the EU?

Custom Lanyards and other foreign companies are wondering how the new policy will affect them if they conduct business in the EU. Will it only affect them if they collect data on EU customers? How will the laws be enforced? Could the policies drive European companies abroad to avoid regulatory scrutiny?

Will Data Privacy Rules be Viewed as a Violation of Anti-Competition Rules?

Skadden experts Ingrid Vandenborre, Thorsten C. Goetz, and Antoni Terra warn that privacy laws could be intertwined with anti-competition laws. The EU Competition Chief hasn’t provided a detailed response to this question, and documents on a recent lawsuit the German Federal Cartel Office filed against Facebook have not been made public, so the theory has yet to be tested.

“Another area of concern is that big data could result in the foreclosure or marginalization of competitors active in markets where the data is used. Concerns include refusing to provide access to the data, requiring contractual exclusivity provisions, conditioning access to a valuable dataset on the use of a company’s own data analytics services, or using big data as a vehicle for price discrimination against different customer groups. Notably, in March 2016, the German Federal Cartel Office opened an investigation against Facebook for allegedly violating the country’s competition laws (alleged abuse of a dominant position) by infringing German data protection rules. Details of the investigation are not yet publicly available; therefore, it is unclear whether the German authority would consider a violation of data privacy rules to also be a violation of competition laws, at least under certain circumstances.”

The argument does appear to have some validity, though. Brands that violate consumer privacy laws with big data will likely have a distinct competitive advantage over competitors. This is an argument that experts in the gaming sector made against PokerStars, a company that outgrew its competitors by violating United States gaming regulations. A strong legal argument could be made that companies that violate any laws gain a competitive advantage and need to be sanctioned by the EU Competition Chief. This argument would be extended to big data.

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