The Importance of a Bank’s Reputation

Joaquín Maudos, Professor at the University of Valencia and Deputy Director at the Valencian Institute of Economic Research (IVIE), examines the relationship between the bank and the consumer, in an article published by the national economic newspaper EXPANSIÓN.  He reveals the worrying fact that no bank sits among the 50 companies in Spain with the best reputation. “The bank in general is already demonized, which makes it an easy target to exploit for electoral purposes,” he continues.

The author calls for a joint effort by firms, supervisors, the media and the education system to improve the image the bank in the public eye.

Millennials vs. Baby Boomers

When the children of your first classmates start arriving at the company, you may feel some contradictory sentiments. After remeniscing in your pleasant memories of the first professional steps you took, a bell goes off when you realize that those very children you saw years ago cuddled up in cradles, are now already here at the doorstep of your office.

At the same time that I faced this new realization, I noticed that Merco and Universum distributed two separate reports in which they call to attention how Spanish women face salary discrimination from the moment they step out of college. If a few seconds ago I was thinking about how time flew by, I’m now doubting if life will ever be the same …

I’m not willing to fall for claims spouted out from the Goya awards. With the exception of the three words that emerged in the heart and voice of the award-winning Jesús Vidal -Diversity, Equality and Visibility-, the concepts of equality suggested throughout the Goya gala were tiresome, if not vulgar.

We have put the feminist cause in the battle of the genders and the frontline is much more diverse. The authentic champion of the Goya and winner of its best film category, Champions, excites us by focusing on the integration of diverse peoples. As fewer and fewer people suffer from disabilities (because in many cases their opportunities end in the womb), the ones who do make it out deserve more visibility in society, work, film, etc…

Although it isn’t a completely new phenomenon, a new form of age discrimination is emerging: millennialls vs baby boomers. We really ought to assimilate with each other once and for all because surrounding ourselves with different people is more enriching than cloning homogenous environments. If not, companies will have to pay an even higher price than the one they continue to pay today from to the shortage of women in executive and managerial positions.

If juniors and seniors join forces, the result of their work will be more creative.  Professionals of all generations working together will bring more added value to a society, with an investment in the entirety from top to bottom of the demographic pyramid.

Some companies are exhibiting such bipolarity, removing seats in their in the board of directors from acclaimed professionals of extensive experience just because of their age. “You have to rejuvenate the company …”, says Generation X, born between 1965 and 1979 in unison with millennials of 1980 to 1999, as they send home the baby boomers of the late ‘40s to the mid ‘60s.

Excellence is to integrate women and men with equitable retribution at all levels, people with an extra chromosome more or less, people both young and old … In the midst of these paradoxes, it would be a blockbuster to wage the battle for diversity and inclusion to a greater extent.



by Asunción Velasco
Senior Manager of Internal Communication at PwC


What do Corporate Banking Customers Want?

What are the current needs of corporate banking customers? To this day, they still demand managers who they can fully trust, along with products and services for their financing and transactional needs. Now, however, they desire even more. They want the relationship with their bank to be simpler and more direct, while also wanting to do more operations digitally.

The reinvention of the customer experience model has already advanced one step further in retail banking. Corporate banking, however, has lagged behind in this process. This is for several reasons, primarily the high complexity of clients and products alike and the low level of standardization in products and services. In addition, the cost of making mistakes can be very high, either from failing to comply with regulations or from the business impact of bad loans.

In this scenario, how should corporate banking address the need to reinvent its concept of relationship with its customers? It should focus more towards the customer experience aspect than towards its producto offering.  Moreover, does the corporate bank understand the real needs of the treasurer and financial manager, to develop the optimal customer experience for them?

In corporate banking, around 30 different customer experience models can be distinguished. Therefore, by applying the necessary changes to implement this range of new relationship models, changes are put into effect in both internal processes and systems.

When the corporate bank has a complete vision of what its customer experience model should be in the future, it will have to prioritize. Because it will have to decide which is the customer experience model that best adapts to the processes of digital transformation, and that can therefore count on the support of the entire organization.

Multidisciplinary tools

Introducing the new customer experience should be swift and agile, and should be executed through multidisciplinary teams and tools.  Both customer relationship managers as well as product, data and business intelligence specialists ought to be involved. Credit risk managers and analysts should also play a role, because this transformation is an activity based on internal processes related to the implementation of the new relationship model. In some of these processes, for example in onboarding (the receiving model for new customers), it is critical that the new model meets regulatory requirements.

To achieve sufficient visibility among different organizations regarding the new customer experience model, achieving tangible and rapid results is absolutely vital. Corporate banking firms, therefore, need to ensure that this new relationship model is configured as one its main pillars in the development of processes focused towards digital transformation.

Finally, if the corporate banking firms want to meet the challenge of providing a renewed customer experience, they take into account the opinions of a prior selection of their main clients. This is to ensure that, in the future, the entire customer base appreciates the advantages and the effectiveness of a new relationship model adopted by its preferred corporate bank.

Access the complete report by Boston Consulting Group


by Ole Bendik Heggtveit
Principal at the Boston Consulting Group y expert in digital corporate banking

Branded Content and Brand Journalism: Companies with Their Own Voice in the Digital Agora

Not so long ago, talking about new forms of disintermediated communication by companies was a fast way to be condemned by guardians of journalistic and communicational purism. How dare companies suggest occupying safe spaces traditionally reserved for the media? However, the combination of various factors, such as the the media crisis – of its business model as well as its credibility – the digital tsunami that minimized the costs of creation and dissemination of media messaging, the generalization of social media into the mainstream and companies’ need to carve a niche in the conversation that proliferates on the Internet, has caused that argument to be diluted in the waters of the ocean of modern society.

Therefore, today’s web is abundant with branded content pieces – a flourishing income stream- as well as brand communication initiatives through social media, corporate blogs and messaging through media formats of comparable quality to traditional ones. They are already a common currency in this society of information. Orange’s case is paradigmatic of this trend for the audacity that it has in its combination of media and messaging.

The reality of a company can’t all be said in a communiqué

It’s rare nowadays to find a company that doesn’t use digital platforms to reach their audiences directly and instead preferring situations that require active participation in traditional media to communicate their messages. Because the entire essence of a company can’t be explained in merely just a press release, press conference or an interview, even as these tools are of unquestionable usefulness.

Today, the companies that differentiate themselves are those that live by purpose and that make their mark in the world by accumulating positive contributions to greater society. After all, it is society that legitimizes companies to become opinion leaders. Such purpose also serves to remind companies to always keep in mind its raison d’être and plays a role in attracting and keeping the most qualified professionals.  To that end, possible “partners” become attracted and approach companies with which they share values and objectives, etc.

With Orange, its approach to communication is varied and audacious, ranging from the traditional press release to branded content through social networks, corporate blogs or its own, a platform focused on innovation that plays in the same league as other informative websites of similar characteristics, whether it be traditional media platforms or not.

Content promoting proper use of technology

In terms of branded content, the company has opted for this format “to encourage reflection on the relationship between technology and families and to demonstrate that we want to accompany them and help them in ensuring the responsible use of new technologies,” in the words of Orange´s brand, communication and sponsorship director Isabel Alonso.

With this objective in mind, Orange generates valuable discourse about relevant issues related to the use of new technologies which concern all of us, opening the debate on sensitive issues as Sexting, Cyberbullying and the abuse of mobiles by minors and adults alike, including Sharenting or exposing children to adult content.

To achieve this, Orange has designed an educational website that grows and expands its content monthly to accommodate issues that most concern families and society in general. The website effectively disseminates itself to a growing audience through videos and reports published in the media in the form of branded content pieces. All of this is done under the umbrella hashtag #Porunusolovedelatechnology (for a love-centered use of technology).

But what results has Orange obtained from such a commitment? The effect goes well beyond winning multiple awards and recognitions, such as winning third place in the Youtube Ads Leadership award, the Silver award at the CdeC festival and prizes at the El Sol advertising festival, among others. The videos from the campaign record more than 13 million views per month. This extraordinary diffusion has contributed directly, according to company studies, to an improved public perception of the Orange brand.

As for the other publicity methods pursued by Orange, dominated by web content and other content on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Youtube, the results are not far behind either. The set of corporate websites – By Orange, Let’s Talk about Companies, Pop TV – accumulate 5 million visits per year, combined with 4 million views on its Youtube videos or 7.5 million views on Instagram. It’s website ‘Unlocked’ has also been a success, a site devoted to covering the emerging phenomenon of E-Sports recently dubbed as one of the most interesting sites from which to learn about the so-called “21st century sport”.

An honorable mention is deserved by, an informative website about innovation that doesn’t speak as much about the Orange brand as about the environment in which it operates and that offers “neutral” information.  It offers a purely journalistic viewpoint on innovation and progress in all areas where technology is predominant, and additionally, it offers a holistic view of the progress of mankind. This risky venture has received the support of’s audience, and 2018 will have ended with more than 7 million visits.

It is strikingly clear how the spectacular results obtained by Orange serve as an example that we are fortunate to live in an extroardinary era of human history in which, thanks to technology, we all can speak and be heard, becoming the whirlpools of streams of that can generate the dynamics towards social change.  This potential lies in the hands of individuals, but can also be within organizations. We are all the beginning and end of communicative processes, and likewise we are also the means of the media.

By David Martínez Pradales

Chief Editor of Nobbot, Orange’s website dedicated to innovation

Venezuela in Eight Days

The Venezuelan crisis won’t be solved in eight days, although Pedro Sánchez has set such a deadline for new elections to be held as he leads a weak common position of the European Union, entailing an ultimatum to convoke a legitimate electoral process or otherwise face the European recognition of Guaidó. But the political conflict initiated by Chávez; based on the inequalities caused by oil and the manipulation of leftist Caribbean populism; blasting propaganda for his new Bolivarian pillagers; illiberal at first then illegitimate later; finally turned tragicomedy by Nicolás Maduro, has produced a fracture in society and an economic crisis from which Venezuela will take years, sweat and toil to overcome.


Internal division and political chaos are not the only elements that have hindered a negotiated solution. In these long years of the century, the conflict in Venezuela has progressively globalized to become another piece of the geopolitical chessboard. On one side sits the United States, most of the main Latin American countries and democratic Europe, from which side they will continue play. On the other sits Russia, China and Turkey, who see in Venezuela an exchangeable pawn for a favorable solution to Syria and Ukraine, or for the bishop that is the trade war. Venezuelans have moved from the fringes and from hyperinflation to the world of global politics without having anything to put in their mouths.


Europe is now looking for a place of its own that is within the parameters of democracy but outside of American speculation that has one hand tied and Donald Trump’s as the other. A place that only Felipe González knows so well, which consists of choosing for a democracy, an economy and development instead of socialism and ruin. But fair means are only fair if situated between two evils. For that reason, the balance between democracy and non-democracy is not half democracy or the eight-day ultimatum. Otherwise, legitimate democratic restoration is the only way to go.


By José María Peredo

Professor of Communication and International Politics at the European University

Key Steps for the Banking Sector to Improve its Reputation

The latest scandals involving large banks picked up by the press – the illegal eavesdropping ordered by the previous BBVA chairman, the unsuccessful appointment of the Santander´s incoming CEO and the lawsuits filed by investors who have lost their money in Banco Popular shares or mandatory convertible bonds – portray how Spanish banks continue to be affected by serious reputational problems.


This is despite the fact that the three largest operators, Santander, BBVA and La Caixa, are among the top 10 ranked in best corporate reputation according to Merco, based on 38,000 interviews with the general population and stakeholders. Or maybe it´s simply that bank customers in Spain are much more loyal to their banks than customers in other countries, something exemplified by the fact that 86% of the distribution volume of investment funds originates from bank branches, according to Inverco.


This situation is worrisome, however, because banking is the mainstay of the economy, being the financier of consumption, real estate investments and general business activity both public and private. In Spain´s case, the largest banking operators have expanded widely to other regions such as Latin America, so that the effects of their reputational crises at home are transferred abroad.


Change the Business Model

After the financial crisis in 2008 there was a severe economic recession in Spain which lasted until 2013. In the wake of the crisis, the cycle transformed towards a growth phase in which we remain today. The banking system´s role in this improvement was fundamental, as the low interest rates, the abundant liquidity and the household saving rate due to deleveraging in the private sector boosted credit activity and with it the consumption.


The crisis had another consequence, namely a profound transformation of the banking business model. Banks had to adapt their revenue generation model to anticipate lower margins because of higher regulatory costs, greater amount required in technology investments and the emergence of competitors with much more efficient cost structures.


A report by the Boston Consulting Group noted that between 2009 and 2017, the global banking sector had to pay fines to regulators amounting to 320 billion dollars as a result of bad marketing practices. On the other hand, McKinsey estimated ​​the impact of Fintech competition on conventional banking to be in between 29% and 35% of revenues, due to both the loss of customers and the reduction of margins.


Transform Digitally

These factors explain the banking sector´s strong commitment towards digitalization. Such is a key tool with which they can improve customer experience, challenge competition from Fintech and raise the quality of service towards customers while reducing costs.


The digital transformation that the banking sector undertakes is also causing other changes to the financial ecosystem, as the importance of front-office processes in customer service models is progressively reduced due to commercial pressure and the high costs they reflect on the income statement.


Logically, this lower front-office effort means greater attention to the middle-office and back-office processes, which are the ones that need higher levels of automation and control in aspects such as risk management and cost reduction.


Communicate Novelties

The future of the sector is therefore to implement solutions that provide greater agility, flexibility and orientation towards customer satisfaction to create greater value. Accenture translates it as banking´s evolution towards the “commoditization” of some services, the aggregation of data and new models of transaction processing, based on distributed ledgers (blockchain) and databases.


In the case of Spanish banks, they have been pioneers and enthusiasts when it comes to implementing new transformative trends in business models. Therefore, banks need to communicate effectively their beneficial role as the engine of the economy and the impact of the major changes they´re implementing to adapt to the new age of digitalization, regulatory changes and increased competition.


Banks also needs to effectively communicate the cost-cutting procedures and customer experience enhancements they are carrying out, so that these efforts are positively received by the customer and thus by society as a whole.


Only in this way will it be possible to change the negative perception of banks across social groups and classes. Such is the perception that prevails whenever incidents occur related to banking malpractice, solvency problems or deficiencies in the commercialization of products, all of which affect banking recurrently.


Javier Ferrer
Proa Comunicación Consultant specializing in the investment realm

To Communicate Real Estate Investment is to Reinforce its Growth

Despite the uncertainties, the Spanish economy continues to enjoy good health. The strength of consumption, the increase in family wealth, the lowering debt of households, the reduction in unemployment, the increase in wages, the reduction of public debt and the strength of exports, result in a GDP growth forecast by Funcas at 2.6% for 2018 and 2.2% in 2019.

The Spanish economic cycle is robust and prolonged, although signs of deceleration have emerged in recent weeks. In any case, this doesn´t slow down the expansion cycle of the real estate sector, as investment in construction is a much slower process and prevents signs of deceleration from affecting the cycle.

In addition, the prevailing interest rates have created a climate that continues to favor mortgage credit, stimulating demand. As monetary policy returns to normal, this attractiveness will diminish marginally, but the core level of inflation (without the volatile energy component) means that, in practice, inflation remains at very low levels, delaying the possibility of any interest rate increase.

Therefore, this optimistic scenario supports good growth prospects of business in the real estate sector, which in turn benefits developers, construction firms, real estate consultants, intermediaries, the public sector and others. Some firms predict that real estate assets will continue to appreciate in the short and medium term due to increased demand, a shortage in supply and the abundant liquidity that exists in the market. Moreover, they want to take advantage of this situation for the benefit of their business models.



These figures corroborate expectations of key players in this sector. For example, new housing data in 2018 confirms that supply is still lower than demand. This year, more than 95,000 new homes are expected, compared to 800,000 that went on the market in the years before the bubble burst.

The “mortgage payment ratio”, the percentage of family income used to service mortgage loans, has fallen from 60% to 30%. This supports data that shows rising middle class net worth, driven by lowering debt-to-income ratios, low interest rates and rising wages.


In addition to the housing, the real estate sector presents investment opportunities in various segments, through small, medium and large size businesses. Such business activity garners capital from a wide range of investors, from retail investment to large institutional investors.

The record investment levels in 2017 already reflect this reality. According to Jones Lang Lassalle, the almost 14,000 million euros invested in Spanish was distributed among the following sectors: 3,900 million in “retail” -local and shopping centers-; the same number in hotels; 2,200 million in offices; 2,100 million in residential real estate – housing and residential land; 1-350 million in logistics – industrial premises and the like- and 560 million in alternative assets, most notably student residences.


The consulting firm CBRE estimates that in 2018 these figures will be surpassed to total approximately 16,000 million euros, taking into account that at the end of the third quarter it had already reached 13,385 million euros. This investment volume comes mostly from international investors at 58%, compared to 42% from domestic investors.

Corporate Real Estate

Additionally, a boom in corporate operations involving major international industrial and financial investors is taking place in the sector.  This is because for large investors it is very profitable to take control of real estate companies listed on the stock exchange. More specifically, securities are quoting at levels lower than their target price while buyers are reaping substantial profits from the growth of their businesses.

Specialized Communication

In this environment, communication has to play an essential role for the key players in the real estate sector. This is due to the fact that it will be the tool informing the market and potential investors, individuals and institutions about the key drivers in such a sector as real estate, which is experiencing a phase of positive growth.

Such communication should be specialized and should be addressed to interested audiences with the possibility of maximizing their capital and equity. Businesses can do this by incorporating property, plant and equipment (PP&E) as investment opportunities. Firms will need to publicize their operations, the segments in which they operate and the capital assets which support their business models in order to reinforce the perception of solid and stable growth.

Finally, this communication serves to position firms through differentiating messages to investors, eager to channel this enormous flow of domestic and international capital that, favored by the economic environment, the real estate market is currently attracting today.



Javier Ferrer

Proa Comunicación Consultant specializing in the investment realm

Relate to excite the public, the most used strategy in 2018

Now that we´re in mid-January, we can take a few minutes to look back and analyze 2018 from an advertising point of view. Last year had left us a great legacy in terms of advertising trends. If we understand advertising, as a tool by which companies and organizations get in touch with their audiences, we have to look beyond new applications or formats to analyze current advertising trends. We have to analyze which messages brands have emitted to connect with the public have gained recognition and have been well received.

On March 8 of last year a ‘purple tide’ filled the streets and demonstrated, to citizens, institutions and brands alike, that feminism is a concern that has become relevant. In such a way that advertisers and agencies have carried out actions to change the image in which the industry traditionally portrayed women. Pirelli has been one of the pioneers of this change, leaving behind the traditional sexist (and realized) characterization of the woman evident in their schedules, through a project which, in the words of the photographer Albert Watson and recounted in an article by, considered women, promoting “a positive vision of women today” centered on their stories and not on their bodies.

Another example was the campaign #VocesEnIgualdad carried out by the Tango Agency, together with the National Confederation of Women in Equality and the Association of Men for Gender Equality (AHIGE), whose aim was to initiate a public discourse on the matter to point out and denounce one of the most discreet ways that gender stereotypes have been evident and perpetuated.

But the role of women (fortunately) is not the only one that is called into question. Manufacturers of toys, supermarkets, cleaning products … more and more advertisers are the ones who are dismantling stereotypes. With the campaign ‘#JugandoIguales’, Hasbro broke with gender stereotypes in children’s toys, adding to other brands that have opted ​​for diversity in advertising, such as Las Tres Brujas, Uber or Lynx.

While some advertisers relate their actions to current events and their brand’s value proposition, others connect with consumers to initiate new conversations. Such was the case with IKEA and Ruavieja who, through Christmas themes, demonstrated the influence of social networks and the digital hyperconnectivity of consumers to emphasize the magic of reconnecting with the family. Under the slogans ‘#DesconectaParaConectar’ and ‘Tenemos que vernos’ respectively, they intended to open the eyes of society so that they may become aware that, in this digitalized society, the most relationships are human, emotional and familial in nature.

Following this tendency of brands to put the consumer in the center, we find another of 2018’s great trends: giving voice to consumers. The last company to put it into practice was Yoigo when in last November it presented  ‘Pienso, luego actúo,’ defined as “a web platform with its own content whose objective is to give voice and visibility to people who take the initiative to open new paths would lead us to a better, more accessible, just and humane world.”

All these trends are parts of greater brand strategies that aim to convey a powerful message, with social significance, that relates to the public through content and experiences based on emotion.

Marta Gallardo
Consultora de Proa Comunicación

Dick Cheney, the last politician in the shadows

A few days ago, in the pre-release screening of Vice in Spain organized by the journalism forum Conversaciones con, Pablo Pardo, correspondent of the newspaper El Mundo in the United States, characterized the almighty Vice President Dick Cheney´s relationship with the press, noting how “Cheney decided to elude the press, did not talk to the media, spent years without giving interviews and was proud of it.”

In this magnificent biopic directed by Adam McKay, one of the favorites to win in the race for the Oscars, this ignorance of the politician towards the media is quite well portrayed. It´s a contempt that’s also well explained on film. When one wants to accumulate power, more specifically grow powerful in the shadows, the means to achieve it clearly become a serious problem. If you can´t handle them (sometimes quite apparently so) it´s better to avoid them. Cheney’s strategy, in essence, was none other than flying under the radar.

However, it is interesting to see how in a few years, circumventing the media has become mission impossible for politicians. Perhaps it is still viable to avoid the interest of some important media, to look the other way when journalists ask at a press conference, to turn to the four rules of the corporate manual -the bad sort- in an intervention (“I’ve come to talk about my book and don´t ask me about anything else “) or even pull a television press conference just to be present … without being so at all. But what is not feasible is to pull the strings and accumulate power unnoticed by the magnifying glass of public opinion. Public opinion previously blew its horn on bedheads, through television networks or radio stations,  now boasting millions of speakers tweeting and posting on social networks. Information has ceased to be a coveted and rare treasure in the hands of the powerful, instead becoming a whirlwind of news where the broadcaster and receiver share roles and where many times the true role of the journalist is to separate the news from the fake.

Some people think that in companies, institutions, and therefore in politics, transparency is a decision. You can bet on being so or not. You can talk to the media or decide not to. You can generate discourse on the networks or simply not exist. The trend, however, leads many to consider transparency as non-negotiable. In fact, even politicians as reluctant to face the media as Donald Trump have had to surrender to the evidence that what you do in the shadows ends up coming to light, sooner or later. More and more, much sooner than later. For that reason, even those who reject the media have ended up turning to them, even if only to sow misinformation.

Today Dick Cheney´s position would be imposible. In fact most probably, the vice president will go down in history for – among other things – being the last politician who could operate with his back to the spotlight. Politics in the shadows is already history.

Ana Sánchez de la Nieta
Editor of Conversaciones con

2019, the Year of Legal Innovation

Nobody denies that 2018 had been, from a legal point of view, a real revolution in matters such as personal privacy. After a year discussing the new European Data Protection Regulation, on May 25 the regulation became fully aplicable, and with it came an important change in how companies and administrations treated and exploited personal data. The regulation was completed by Organic Law 3/2018 of December 5 Regarding the Protection of Personal Data and Guarantees of Digital Rights.  Almost in injury time, the new law that would regulate those aspects that European regulation left to the authority of member states was approved and entered into force, dealing with new issues such as guaranteeing digital rights.

Without a doubt, this will be one of the great challenges that during 2019, jurists, companies and administrations will have to face, along with others listed below:

After May 25, Life Continues

We already anticipated at the beginning of this article that perhaps the great challenge was not reaching May 25, but rather implementing a sustainable compliance system. Beyond maintaining records of processes and risk analysis, firms must ensure that these records remain updated.  This entails greater introspective knowledge by companies regarding not only of what we carry out today but also of what we will do in the future . The data we collect today will be the basis of the digital economy, the success of the business model and the opening up towards new ideas and markets. The risks will also evolve, something that we already see every day in the field of information security, but we must also consider legal and organizational issues. It is undoubtedly in this aspect where we must advance in the idea of legal innovation, seeking solutions before problems occur, changing the way in which lawyers are understood and requiring value-added innovation, giving merit to compliance and therefore fostering business growth.

Reconciling different regulations according to activity and different business models, at a time when this is a certainty, is as society demands global services in the era of the digital economy.  Borders have given way to cross-regulatory understanding and subsequently to the necessary reconcilation to fulfill different legal obligations, catering to services themselves with respect to where they are provided.

Another key aspect will be the development of the role of Data Protection Officer, taking into account the number of obliged subjects, their role and involvement in companies and administration all from a focus on value creation, based on respect towards privacy and individual rights.

Perhaps through that lens, May 25 was not an Armageddon, but the beginning of a new era, one we all expected and needed, a new standard for a new economy. It is in this new era, where systems of control, contingency planning, proactivity and responsibility become necessary, maintaining and improving what has already been implemented in a process of growth and continuous reinvention.

New Rights, New Challenges

The Organic Law 3/2018 introduced, in its final draft, a new category of rights, namely digital rights as well as the need to establish sufficient guarantees for their protection. Society itself has evolved from talking about different realities to a single 360º reality, which includes both the physical and digital realms, prompting the legislator to include mechanisms for the protection of both.

These guarantees, their implementation and reconcilement, constitute another of the great challenges that we will face in the coming months. Concepts such as digital disconnection in the workplace, the right to privacy against the use of video surveillance devices and sound recording in the workplace, the right to privacy in the use of geolocation systems in the workplace and digital rights in collective bargaining, highlight the necessary renewal of organizational systems in firms, making it necessary to open discussion regarding digital labor laws. The elaboration of labor compliance plans, the weight given to and respect for workers’ rights, the necessary considerations and a new concept of the employer-employee relationship necessitate a revision of the rules of the game from a future perspective. Not only are the requirements of today taken into account but also those of tomorrow and the subsequent reconcilement with new ways of understanding the employment relationship.

From Miners, Nodes and Oracles to New Business Systems

In recent times we have not stopped reading about the Blockchain and how this new technology was going to revolutionize the way we work and interact with companies or administrations, providing greater security in these transactions. This discourse is already a reality and is already having an impact on issues such as: (a) transactions and payment systems, (b) supply chains, (c) records of documents, (d) Smart Contracts and decentralized applications (known as Dapps) ) and of course, (e) cryptocurrencies.

At the end of the year we learned that Angulas de Aguinaga joined the IBM Food Trust platform, based on Blockchain technology, to control its distribution process from production to arrival at the point of sale.  Like Carrefour, the company implemented this very platform on its country-grown chicken, raised without antibiotic treatments, enabling customers to find out by scanning a QR code a specimen´s tracking history and the methodology followed in its preparation and distribution. Both cases are just two examples of how these technologies will impact sectors such as food and consumer goods, insurance, banking or healthcare, among others.

The same cryptocurrencies have undergone a change in these months, going from being used by a small sector, to being a major point of discussion in our discourse in terms of how it will be regulated fiscally and its impact on tax paid by citizens. Along with these aspects, others to be considered are the markets for the purchase and sale of digital currencies, their impact on money laundering prevention regulations and financing of terrorism, as well as the understanding of virtual money as a means of payment.

The Era of Robots and Connected Technologies

When we used to talk about subjects of this nature a few years ago, what came to mind were series like Knight Rider or sci-fi film sagas such as Star Wars.  But today, these concepts are already a reality. The Internet of Things, the impact of connected devices and the interaction between them have led to heavy investments in recent months, based on the conviction that these things have become reality, and that in the coming months there should be a legal debate on aspects such as responsibility, the treatment of information, and the impact on different sectors (among others distribution, transport or the way we relate to companies), making tangible the expression “the future is today” .

These are concepts that will also impact other sectors such as the fashion industry, where we will have to move forward on topics such as the use of RFID tags, beacons and geofending techniques, 3D technology applied to the fashion sector (smart mirrors and virtual influencers , among others) and intelligent weaves, wearables and eyeables, and its special importance in areas such as health (prevention of skin cancer).

Other Legal Challenges on the Horizon

Other technological concerns that pose challenges in the coming months are, among others, the implementation of artificial intelligence in certain respects such as the use of chatbots by companies, specifically in sectors such as healthcare or legal which bring the user’s experience to another realm. The analysis of massive data or big data technologies, marking a before and after in the development of new business models, services or knowledge of end users themselves, is making familiar concepts such as cookies a thing of the past, highlighting the need to adapt processes and relationships as with publishers in the case of advertising and media management.

The new business models and the necessary reconciliation with more traditional ones, concepts already incorporated in the common language such as “uberization”, pose challenges in different areas of law and the in the need to adapt services to new requirements, needs and demands of society.

Finally, the legal sector should continue advancing on topics such as digital entrepreneurship, taking into account the Preliminary Draft Law for the Promotion of the Startup Ecosystem, currently in the public consultation phase; the impact of new technologies in the financial sector; the advancement of virtual reality and 3D printing with its respective legal implications; the legal challenges in relation to the concepts of multichannel, omnichannel and global communication management; or eSports and its impact on aspects such as sponsorships, sports management, implications in terms of intellectual, labor, fiscal and administrative property and its interrelation with other business models such as gaming and gambling.

Tomorrow is Today

Undoubtedly, 2019 is fraught with challenges from a legal point of view, where the legal sector itself must continue advancing in its knowledge of technologies, business models and regulatory changes that are approaching.  We must evolve towards an understanding of law not only as an area of concrete practice, but also comprehend it from a global and multidisciplinary perspective.  We must recognize also the need to advance our knowledge and understanding of specific áreas of law in line with the demands of the market, and to push forward, along with technological or business innovation, legal innovation itself.

Por Daniel López
Socio de Écija