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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Learn from others!

There has been two major steps in my life that made me change, or to be more explicit, that brought some theoretical background to fuel my way of addressing issues.

One of these steps is Market Intelligence, an extension of competitive intelligence principles, that builds upon the idea that if we have more information, we will make better decisions. Typically, in Market Intelligence, an organization sets up processes to legally acquire information, manage it and distribute it to the right people. Of course, some of the collected information is used for benchmarking, typically answering fundamental questions such as are we doing better or worse than others? Can we learn something from other players in our field?

The other step is NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a personal development set of techniques based on the observation of behaviors of other people, analyzing them, sort out which behaviors seems to work well, and model them. NLP includes formal aspects allowing to detect and analyze behavioral processes, and understand to which extent they are efficient or not. Then, one just has to choose which relevant processes can be acquired and improve one’s own behavior.

What have Market Intelligence and NLP in common? Curiosity!

After decades of analyzing the secure transactions industry, I am still shocked each time I see, even the most prestigious companies reinvent basics, as their leaders are not aware that solutions to the issue they are working on have already been invented, tested, developed and finalized elsewhere.

The French government is in the process of launching its StopCovid contact tracing app. Now, in final validation stage, the StopCovid app is to be released in a few days.

The French StopCovid app is the result of several weeks of discussion, specification writing and finetuning between various government, para-government and private organizations: ANSSI (the French National Cybersecurity Agency), Santé Publique France (National Healthcare Agency), INSERM (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research), telecom operator Orange, systems integrator Capgemini, Withings (a specialist in connected devices), Lunabee Studio (an app developer), and Dassault Systèmes (a major software company). This may be the best of the crop of French companies, but I have still to see an explicit research conducted by these players to investigate how apps that have demonstrated their success elsewhere are working, which data they acquire, how they manage them, how they obtain significant results in terms of virus exposure measurement and manage privacy issues. One may remember the approach to the Covid-10 crisis from South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong was based on “trace, test and treat” policies (cf. Tracked and healthy?), that have demonstrated their efficiency. Have the French companies reinvented the wheel instead of analyzing and emulating what others did before? The result is the app comes end of May or early June while the pandemic peak happened in April.

A more technical analysis (in French) of the various options for StopCovid has been published by experts at EESTEL (European Experts in Security of Electronic Transactions).

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