In the second article of this series, I stated that the first order of business in delivering Equilibrium should begin, as all solid digital transformation projects should, with a comprehensive end-to-end business analysis of the whole of government. In this article, I will discuss the process of transformation itself. How does this begin? How does it evolve?
I will also examine some of the non-obvious benefits to enterprise and explain how this will dramatically reduce regulatory compliance, simply that compliance and drastically cut costs, especially when it comes to International business.
Eating Your Own Dog Food
The process of transformation does not begin with upending existing government structures, infrastructure or software solutions. Delivering Equilibrium involves the development of 5 key components. These are:
1. Dante & Styx - The decision support system, analytical models and data lake storage
2. Internal Data capture - Information streamed/uploaded from government departments
3. External Data Capture - Information streamed/uploaded from the private sector, public and foreign nations
4. Public Portal (Dimensions) - Reporting and collaboration platform
5. Software Defined Architecture & Distributed Grid - Conversion of all government computing resources to a common cloud
I have already discussed Dante and Styx. In most scenarios, this will be an entirely new solution that will be delivered most likely as a mixture of existing and externally provided computing resources. The creation of the analytical models is something that will involve government, universities and private enterprise and will take some time to capture everything in a holistic sense. It could be that a single master analytical model emerges, it could also be the case that many models emerge optimized for specific roles. Ultimately, it is expected that this evolve to a single master analytical engine that runs on a distributed grid leveraging a software defined architecture. I'll discuss this long term goal a little later.
I have also discussed the public portal, Dimensions, which is built around Dante's API as a mixture of government provided and commercial products.
I have briefly touched upon internal data capture in the previous articles, so let's look at this a little more closely. Firstly, in the development of Equilibrium no changes are made as the result of its deployment anywhere in government. In fact, it merely adds a layer of ETL, cleaning and transmission to existing internal processes of any department or group within government. As a process of transformation, the data which this layer sends to Dante will increase over time as the analytical models solidify, the data formats become known and Dante is ready to accept such streams. In many cases, this will be a simple repackaging of existing data typically published under open government initiatives combined with budgeting and expenditure information. In time though, it will capture every relevant piece of data that can be used in Dante's analytical engine.
In terms of optimizing government, what does Dante do with this information? Dante merely collates this information and compares it against its internal representation of 'ideal balance or equality'. This produces a view of government that reveals how much deviation exists each aspect. Dante's constraint model define how far of a deviation can occur when defining new solutions. The internal reference of 'ideal balance or equality' is at the same time a defense against data manipulation, when weighted against the external data capture (or feedback), it becomes trivial to detect bias in the inputs and/or analytical models and isolate the source.
Once inside Dante, private enterprise, the public, government, think tanks, political parties, etc., can all work collaboratively to define a solution that is better than the current solution. The result of which emerges as policy, tasks for government officials, legislation changes, etc. Dante, in the background, may be running a wide variety of machine learning algorithms which will offer recommendations that may be accepted or rejected whilst developing a solution.
Thus, any substantive changes come after this point. That is, all change is society is evidence led, rather than opinion led.
The great aspect of Dante is that it does not matter why you want to change government policy. It could be for the most selfish reasons in the known universe, but it will always turn out to be the best thing for everyone at that time.
External data capture is another area that I have briefly mentioned before. In a collaborative environment, this comes from every citizen. Dante listens. It is here that we introduce a third analytical model beyond projected data vs current/feedback data. It is that of perceived data. For each aspect of Equality, Dante asks questions of how a person feels the government is doing. This way, Dante tracks the deviation of perception from reality. It is a gauge of the general mental health of the population. This information is used to guide the presentation of dashboards in Dimensions to assist in aligning perception with reality by providing factual information. This can also be presented as Dante generated deep dives into particular areas of society. This system will reveal if problems or unfounded, or even worse than commonly understood, as well as providing deep insight to the roots of the issue.
Obviously, such a system requires accurate and trustworthy data. Let's take one area as an example, pay equality between male and female employees. Data such as gender, job type, location and renumeration is uploaded from the IRS to Dante. Dante crunches those numbers and produces a breakdown of that data. Now an individual is asked by Dante, do they feel there is inequality in renumeration between genders? If their answer is out of line with the facts, Dante will show the statistics for their local area. If it is a broad misconception, Dante will present those facts under an area such as 'Common Misconceptions'. It may well be the case that the individual is correct, in which case Dante will have already notified the relevant department and added it to their task list as an objective to correct.
Thus, many problems will be corrected long before any legal action is taken through a process of constructive dialog without individuals needing to place themselves in a position where retaliation could become a factor. This is pro-active governance and a similar approach will exist in most other areas.
External data capture can also mean accepting information from the private sector that contains information about everything from current policies, data on those policies, right through to information about the structure of the company that can assist Dante or a particular department in gaining insight on their data sets. This is in addition to any form of regulatory compliance. Dante can leverage this information to provide recommendations to companies and/or to integrate future events into its projections.
With all this information there is a sense of perspective in issues. How bad are they really? Does the government need to step in? From this, we obtain better allocation of resources and more bang for our buck.
The last key component can be thought of as a 'nice to have'. A Software Defined Architecture and Distributed Grid is technical architecture that allows Dante to repurpose data centers on-the-fly to meet demand. It is a form of consolidation that does not necessarily result in physical changes such as centralization of data centers. This is also highly dependent on the role of such systems and the amount of data they contain. As such, it should be seen as a longer term goal and something that Dante will be updated to analyze.
Software Defined Enterprise
What improvements does this bring to Enterprise? Equilibrium opens the door to a range of cost saving measures. If we go back to the constraints model behind Dante, we can observe how this is an abstraction of the legal, economic and social system. Further, it is an abstraction of the letter of law. In a way, it captures the intent or spirit.
This abstraction is key to reducing regulatory burden and reporting complexity. Regardless of which nation a company is operating in, they will be presented with the same abstracted view of the nation's legal structure. Thus, it becomes possible to write ERP and accountancy software in a generic manner that automatically submits data to government APIs with minimal configuration simply by tagging data in the ERP system to aspects of the constraint model. ERP and accountancy software can also be configured with a simple JSON/XML file that can intelligently update workflows and screens with the relevant options and inputs to capture data on a per region basis. No longer will an army of consultants and implementers be required to change software just because someone decided to add a new tax option. For the most part, any manual changes will merely involve UI and graphics designers.
In practice, this will means reduced costs upon entering a market and further reduced costs in on-going maintenance. The ultimate goal is that once a company has defined its internal practices and technologies, there would be very little change when moving between nations.
There is also an opportunity to strike a balance between deregulation and regulation. Many argue that market forces are enough to protect workers, incomes, key interests, etc. Dante will be able to present the facts on these theories. Regulation, as will be observed in the creation of Equilibrium, is there to enforce a particular balance, or set of balances. If Dante has indications that a particular balance is within constraints and has been for some time, then no regulation of balance is required. That said, if the balance is moving into dangerous territory, then the introduction of regulation to correct that imbalance is warranted. As such, market regulation under Equilibrium would be a dynamic construct with the expressed intention of being a circuit breaker to poor decision making and abuse. It could also be the case that such regulations are implemented on a per-company basis, rather than blanket laws to deal with specific issues. Ultimately, this would not be a violation of equality in the eyes of the law, as such measures can be applicable to everyone and they all comes from a common pool of measures.
Other areas of importance are the streamlining acquisitions and mergers. For large corporations there can be months of waiting on regulatory approval and a lot lube behind these scenes to have such actions approved. With Equilibrium such nonsense comes to an end. It will merely crunch the numbers, provide a yes or no response and perhaps provide alternative suggestions.
These are just some ideas that are achievable with Equilibrium, no doubt when an examination of what could be improved occurs, hundreds or even thousands of cost saving measures will be discovered that only serve to improve nations and business alike. Thus, during the transition period, business must identify where such cost savings can arise, work with both vendors and government to ensure software solutions are flexible enough and work with governments across the globe to ensure compatibility in reporting/APIs.
This has been a brief examination of some of the things to consider and the opportunities that exist during the development and implementation of an Equilibrium compatible platform. Whilst a lot of the implementation is obvious, the non-obvious elements are where a lot of the hidden opportunities of Equilibrium resides.
Much of the resistance to political and economic agendas come from the perceived loss of equality across society. Equilibrium provides the opportunity to experiment with solutions whilst maintaining circuit breakers that prevent agendas from going too far. Equilibrium also permits cherry picking from different outlooks to construct better solutions, without dragging along every nefarious outlook that usually accompanies such views.