Compliance Atoms vs. Compliance Bits

In a lot of ways, "compliance technology" is stuck in the 1990's.  It's an industry wrought with manual processes and futile document chasing. In 1995, Nicholas Negroponte authored "Being Digital" and claimed that a key benefit to the digital age would be moving bits vs. moving atoms. The compliance industry needs to think more about bits and less about atoms.  

"It makes no sense to ship atoms when you can ship bits." Nicholas Negroponte

There are several obvious disadvantages to working with "atoms."  First, Atoms are physical material in the world and therefore take up space.  They need to be handled and stored which is expensive and time-consuming.  Physical items are also hard to share.  They must be lifted, carried, shipped or somehow copied in order to show others.  This is particularly difficult when you need a third party to review or validate a physical item or occurrence.  

This may sound absurd in 2017 but, we need to look no further than your local notary.  In ancient eras, notaries or scribes were used as middlemen to validate the authenticity of documents and contracts.  They would witness the execution of a deed, will or other contract and place their mark upon the associated document.  It's pretty much the exact same process today and the compliance industry is laden with "notarization" validation steps.  

Compliance professionals need to stop thinking like notaries and think in terms of compliance "bits."  Bits don't take ups space, they can be easily shared or even broadcast to many parties simultaneously.  The cost of storing or transporting "bits" is so minimal it's hard to measure.  Validation processes can be completed remotely via digital signatures, digital tasks or some sort of digital proof.  As regulations grow and become more complex, the atomic world can't keep up.  

At Trust Exchange we are embracing the world of "bits" and amplifying it using modern computing (SAAS, Cloud, Virtualization) and social technologies (networks, crowdsourcing, gammification). Trust Exchange is the new face of compliance. 

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