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In this President's letter, Frederica explores with Perry Rotella, the question of how we can protect innovation while transforming in the digital age.

President, JB Homer Associates

What Good Is Innovation If It Is Not Protected
by Frederica Bolgouras
Director of Executive Technology Recruitment

I read Perry Rotella's article, entitled, "What Good Is Innovation if It's Not Protected", which he published as an Independent Contributor in Forbes back in 2012 with high interest. In this article, Perry stated that CIOs' must lead the charge in recognizing the importance of intellectual property (IP) and taking ownership of safeguarding it.

He discussed the case of Apple vs. Samsung where the ultimate lawsuit highlighted the importance of recognizing intellectual property as a key asset in the innovation pipeline. It seems as though the CIO would be the appropriate person to put in charge to stand up and protect the latest innovations.

When Apple vs. Samsung, went to trial, the US court ruled in favor of Apple. Ironically, it was a nontechnical jury that was required to return a verdict on highly technical matters. Only after three days of deliberations at a federal court house in San Jose, CA, the jury found that Samsung infringed on a series of Apple's patents on mobile devices and awarded Apple more than $1B in damages.

On the other hand, intellectual property can be geographically political. In Japan, the Japanese court rejected patent claims made by Apple against Samsung.

CEO's recognize innovation as the primary growth driver for their organizations, but their Intellectual Property has to be protected. CIOs' need to step up to the plate.

This was a very thought-provoking article. Fast forward four years later. What comes to mind today is the incident of Apple vs. the FBI and the request to break the pass codes to learn more about the suspected terrorists in the San Bernardino shootings where 14 were killed. This incident begs the following questions:

Do you think the FBI should have complete rule over Apple's security system? According to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, this would jeopardize the security of all of its "Apple Citizens". It would require Apple to create a new software platform which would make the iphones easier to unlock around the world, much like a master key.

Who would want to invest in innovation if people were less safe with Apple's security? Would it be possible to create a special four digit number code to break the code of encryption to fight hackers and terrorists? That remains to be seen. Who would be governing this new code of conduct? This has not yet been designated. Would there be a separate software platform for government agencies vs. worldwide customers? Would there be a separate Central Council to oversee this newly constructed software platform for government organizations worldwide? Perhaps, this is possible but then again, who initiates and creates this worldwide? It seems as though there is a question within a question and no solutions as we are moving so quickly.

In my discussion with Perry Rotella, we covered some of these questions.

"Our personal data is everywhere, starting with personal records, insurances, health, and credit card history. These serve as analytics for banks, insurance companies, hospitals and other institutions to generate information and to mitigate risks. This information is sold anonymously without names to protect the customer. It is then up to the company buying the information to gather the match."

From Perry's perspective and a company standpoint, "it is a 'first mover advantage', which means that whoever innovates it first is ahead of the curve. However, this needs to be protected through legal partnerships to make sure that the intellectual property is secure. You need to be a 'first mover' in order to continue to innovate ahead of others, as there will always be copy cats. On that note, if you have proprietary data it is harder to trump and to replicate. In the future, sensors will capture that."

"In terms of cyber security, you have to encrypt your data. This is the reason why so much data is stolen. In so many areas, data isn't encrypted. Apple has done a good job of this. In summary, encryption is #1. Look at the example of Target, it took them months to figure out that their data was breached and that customers' privacy was violated. The faster you can encrypt it and short plug the holes, the safer the consumer experience. It is less about creating walls and more about monitoring and shutting it down."

"Another important aspect is being able to quantify risk. It is harder to define what risk is as a probability."

"Innovation is technology-based. You need an executive to stand up and take responsibility. This would fall under the domain of the CIO. Intellectual property should be the purview of the CIO. It needs to be protected across all service industries. We need to strike a balance between protecting everyone, not just the 'bad guys'."

"How do you do it to make it less onerous and how far do you go for protection? If you think about it, the Smartphone, Tablet, e-mail, contacts, text messages, and applications, make us all visibly accessible in terms of our GPS location. The NSA is constantly capturing our data."

In closing, how much of an innovative and free-thinker can you be, without putting the public security at risk? This is the $60 million or billion dollar question we have to ask ourselves. Innovation is a key driver for CEO's. Let's find a way to create a balance to be more mindful of our intellectual property, and innovate security measures to mitigate risk more closely. What are some groundbreaking healthcare technologies you've seen that CIOs and patients should be aware of?

We would love to hear your thoughts.
Feel free to email Frederica at: fbolgouras@jbhomer.com

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