Regulators are behind the curve and there’s no coming back

It isn’t unusual for commentators to pass snide comments about regulators in the technology world, and unfortunately we are not going to reverse this trend here.

One of the conversations we’ve been having while stalking the halls of Mobile World Congress this year is whether the regulators will ever be relevant. The regulators have always been playing catch-up and it comes to the technology world, but we can’t see any way this trend can be reversed – the gap is only going to get bigger.

Most people will point the pace of change for this gap, but we aren’t too sure. After speaking to various people under the promise they wouldn’t be quoted, the truth emerged. Yes, the technology world is moving fast but the competence of those who are in charge of the regulations is seemingly lacking.

Here’s the theory. If you are a super intelligent engineer, you start your own company and make millions. The next tier down go to work for the super vendors who are pushing the trends. Those who can’t get a job with the vendors work for the operators, and if you can’t get a job at any of the above you go work for an industry watchdog. On the rung below the regulators are MPs, but that is another story.

When you combine the speed of change and the breadth of applications which need to regulated, the picture becomes a bit clearer. To make sure these rules are competent, timely and future-proof, the job requires best in class individuals. Unfortunately the people who are staffing the offices wouldn’t be considered top of their field.

This is simply the nature of the public sector, as the salaries are never going to be able to compete with the private sector. The top-end of the industry are always going to be lured by big pay cheques, but the work won’t be attractive to these individuals either. The talent leaving the world’s top universities want to work with cutting-edge technologies and have a notable impact on the world, they do not want to become paper pushers in a bland public sector office, drinking bad coffee and writing rules. This is not an appealing image.

Regulators are behind the times and slow to react to changes in the industry. Unfortunately this is only going to get worse moving forward.

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