Surveillance Tech: Have We Reached the iPhone Moment?

January 3, 2017     By : Jason Boud

If you are old enough, you’ll remember digital music players and MP3s. My first experience was in the late ’90s when I bought a Rio 500 portable music player. A good friend had just invested in the latest CD Walkman and although both devices did the job (played music), we had no idea how the music and consumer electronics industry would change over the coming years. In the background, the industry was being driven by a few factors such as advances in MPEG audio alongside hardware and storage advances that coincided to create this first wave of convergence (music formats).

Surveillance Tech: Have We Reached the iPhone Moment?

Rio 500 portable music player

Imagine then when Apple launched the first iPod in 2001, effectively beginning the death of old music formats. However, nothing prepared us for the second wave of convergence. The launch of the iPhone six years later further converged phone, digital music player and personal assistant functionality into one device. Within eight years, the industry had converged through two waves of changes from multiple formats and devices into one.
Away from consumer electronics history, since 2007/8 many Financial services firms have been mandated to capture and store trade and electronic communications data, for reporting, monitoring and discovery. The belief until recently has been that buying the best of breed tool for a specific area of monitoring (e.g. trade, communications, customer advice) would reap the best results.

Categories of monitoring and examples products include:

And more recently (since 2012)

This has resulted in firms ending up with individual tools for each category of monitoring, most of which are difficult to use, expensive to maintain and are inflexible (only capable of looking at one dimension or type of data). There has been much argument over data techniques and formats (much like the pre-MP3 music industry).

The graph below shows how monitoring tools have been added to over the last decade, but things are about to change. The industry faces one or two waves of consolidation and convergence.

Surveillance Tech: Have We Reached the iPhone Moment?

Convergence waves – consumer electronics and surveillance tools

Compliance officers – now is the time to ask – can I have an iPhone?

The requirement (regulations and fines) to monitor both pre and post trade activity are increasing; can you afford to buy another ineffective tool? 

The first wave of consolidation has been underway for a while now, having taken place in market surveillance. Market surveillance tools have become a big data and behavioral science battleground. Leading to some new order players in the market (such as PalantirDigital ReasoningActianceRedOwl, etc.). However, market surveillance in isolation is the MP3 player, better algorithms, faster processing, new mathematical models but still require you to carry around a phone or a PDA.

The conclusion from many I talk to in the industry is that we have reached the iPhone moment (the second wave of consolidation) for monitoring and surveillance. It’s time to ditch the Walkmans, MP3 players, the PDAs and phones and look at a new breed of converged behavioral and context aware offerings from new entrants (such as SybenetixBehavox and others). They take a new data science-led approach and in the very near future will bring their techniques to bear on most of the categories of surveillance.

Of course, holistic surveillance is not a simple problem to address – just ask some of the more new order and established players that have taken a while to make their products work or had to partner to address the gaps in their holistic surveillance offerings.