Be careful what you transform: The unintended consequences of digital innovation

There’s been a number of cases in the press recently related to intended crimes and un-intended abuses of, or issues surrounding, digital business models and processes. These cases range from illegal business models such as underground marketplaces and content-sharing sites, to those competing with and creating controversies with their physical counterparts, to those prone to user abuse and thereby exposing other users to potential fraud or harm.

In a recent blog, The hidden disruption of digital business models, I mentioned that by digitizing a traditionally analog business model or process, we’re effectively turning it into bits and atoms and enabling an infinite variety of possibilities. The rules can be whatever you want them to be – with the market being the petri dish to determine if the new rules are viable and can lead to adoption and growth.

The caveat is that there are no shortcuts. You can design a new business model or process, but once implemented it will be subject to the usual good and bad actors. These actors may be internal to the “system,” so to speak, such as authorized employees and end users, or they may be external, such as cybercriminals.

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