Solid for Business: 5 Applications

Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance - by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.

Tim Berners-Lee

There are a lot of reasons to love Solid – it’s based on principles everyone can believe in, and it comes from the Gandalf of the internet – TimBL. When I started reading about solid, I got all the same feelings as when I first learned about bitcoin – it’s got that great mix of humanist principles and technical robustness which makes it just feel right.

And it has a lot of the same challenges as the early days of bitcoin - lots of good feelings about it conceptually, but technically still quite unaccessible. The people who are working on it are extremely talented, but for the mid-range intellects like me it’s a bit hard to grok. The demos still look a bit ‘technical’ although there will certainly be some very slick apps in the near future. So I spent some time thinking about how Solid could be used, trying to get past the obvious social media applications.

So here are five potential applications where Solid could be used in business applications.

1. Solid for CRM

Pretty much every business uses some kind of CRM, and there are literally thousands of solutions out there. Despite all the marketing, the one thing no CRM can actually do is keep customer information up to date. With Solid, that’s all about to change.

Your customers will now have the ability to opt in or out of your CRM at the click of a button. This means your company will now need to find ways of seriously incentivising opt-in, or develop a different approach to sales management. The benefit is that you will always have real and reliable data about your opt-ins. It will create efficiencies for the companies that use it well.

2. Solid for Career Management

At its core recruitment is a numbers game – for both recruiters and applicants. It’s simply a case of sending out enough applications or interviewing enough candidates to get a statistically decent chance of success. Modern job application processes are horribly inefficient, and the information about the job market is asymmetrically skewed in favour of the recruiters.

At the very least Solid will enable streamlining of the job application process - imagine making your CV available for recruiters only under highly specific conditions - salary, level, location etc. There are also benefits for recruiters - a more efficient system would enable a finer level of screening to create a pool of candidates.

A more information-symmetric job market will also create greater opportunities for AI solutions to match candidates and roles. The future of recruitment could indeed be very different from the way it is today.

3. Solid for Virtual Assistants

Say you’re in a meeting with an existing client and you get a call from a potential new client you’ve been working on. You have to decline the call, and maybe they’ll leave you a voicemail, so you can try to call back later. In the very near future, your virtual assistant will intercept the call because your schedule lists you as being in meeting. Your phone will never even ring.

The next step for the development of virtual assistants is to set up a time that you can call the client back. In 2019 you think this would be easy, but because calendar applications are all third-party, and inconsistently integrated it’s just not possible to consistently share your calendar. Of course Solid solves this problem, because your shared calendar is available and your virtual assistants will be able to manage them.

So your client has a very different experience - instead of getting your voicemail, your virtual assistant takes the call and asks whether they would like to schedule a callback? Your client says yes, and the virtual assistant says they’ll take care of the scheduling. Of course, this assumes that anybody will be making phonecalls in the near future!

4. Solid for IOT

The potential for integrated business models for things like personal health are huge, but the privacy standards required are a major hindrance. With Solid, it should be possible to start integrating IOT devices such as fitbits with other service providers like nutritional advisors, personal trainers etc. Imagine being able to share your fitbit data with your personal trainer so they can offer nutritional and fitness advice remotely. Imagine this scaled out to all medical devices.

5. Solid for Smart Contracts

Probably the holy grail of decentralisation, integrating solid with blockchain. Maybe this is most easily illustrated with a contrived example: You move into a new house and the neighbourhood uses a shared ride-on mower. You can replace the old owner and buy out their share of the mower on the smart contract. It’s connected to your identity so you can share the costs of fuel and maintenance based on usage.

 As the use of smart contracts becomes more sophisticated and they are used more widely in commercial environments there is scope for the ecosystem of solid apps for business to leverage the smart contract technology. Because these are two very new technologies, predicting exactly how they will be used together is an impossible task. But almost certainly this is a bountiful area for innovation and invention.