Blog post by: Rick Dionne
During the first session of the Innovation 2014 unConference, Faizeen Khandaker led an intimate discussion on the challenges and intricacies surrounding On Demand Mobile Services (ODMS) such as Uber, especially as proliferation continues in the long term.
Mr. Khandaker opened the session by posing the question of how ODMS solutions can achieve long-term success, and what government and market responses are necessary in an increasingly mobile world. Regulation was discussed at length, with the general consensus being that the government must be careful not to overregulate new technologies: market disruptions should be welcomed, not precluded. Luckily, as Mr. Khandaker pointed out, regulatory bodies have no incentive to get involved until a service reaches a high level of use or begins to accrue significant revenue, allowing startups to get a foot in the door before running into regulations.
Prompted by the case of Uber, the ODMS transportation solution which has been widely adopted by consumers but criticized for a lack of robust quality control and abuse prevention mechanisms, Aaron Carty, legislative consul to the Massachusetts State Senate, observed that government regulatory efforts are always playing catchup. Faced with a desire both to promote innovation and effective solutions and to ensure the safety and security of citizens, Mr. Carty noted that legislators will tend to avoid regulation until public outcry makes it necessary. This reality is both good and bad: though it allows companies to more freely pursue novel solutions including ODMS, it means that cases of abuse in the time between widespread adoption and government regulation are likely.
On Demand Mobile Services have many applications and opportunities for growth. Mr. Khandaker identified health services, his area of expertise, as an area in which government policy obstructs market growth. He and Mr. Carty agreed that HIPAA, the federal law governing health privacy, is outdated and counterproductive. If government can reconsider its regulations to better match consumer interests, it can open up this market space to improve the experience of patients and doctors alike.
ODMS is a fascinating field, one which in many ways represents the future of consumer experience. With technology growing more and more ubiquitous, we must consider the implications, legal, moral, and technical, of these innovative crowd-based solutions. Uber and Airbnb will almost definitely still be around five, even ten years from now: the question is how we can adapt our laws and customs to incorporate these businesses in the future.