Business liars? Be sure your sins will find you out! – this column first appeared 10 years ago today, and while the technology may have progressed my thoughts on absolute integrity in business haven’t changed. Do you have a story to share? I’d be interested to hear it.

HAVE you heard yet about SportBrain?  Fascinating stuff. SportBrain is a $100 egg-shaped pedometer equipped with a microprocessor and a communications chip. You clip it to your belt and when you upload the data to it gives you daily graphs of how many miles you have run (or walked, in my case), how many calories you’ve burned, how fast you ran and so on. It will even compare your performance to that of other SportBrain users.

It’s clever. Although I’m not convinced it will become a best sellr. What I am convinced about, however, is the enormous potential to develop SportBrain for other applications.

You see, the device contains an embedded chip that can communicate wirelessly with other such chips within a five foot radius. So the SportBrain could actually become a hub for a personal area network.  The company is already developing a heart strap to communicate with the SportBrain so you can track your heart rate and weight while exercising.

Suddenly, it starts to get quite exciting. I understand the company is developing a wallet that offers personal financial tracking or a gadget with a global positioning system chip to monitor the wearer’s movements.

SportBrain is supposed to be about self-monitoring, but the consequences of vivid imaginations and super-intelligent brains brings an Orwellian aspect to the potential of the gadget.

Parents could keep tabs on their kids when they’re out and catch them behind the bike sheds. Employers could track their employees: how often they escape to the loo or for a fag break, or how long they spend gossiping at someone else’s desk. Women who suspect their partners of having an affair could use the device to monitor their, um, movements! The tracking element could be combined with the financial application for men worried about the length of time their partners shop: they could track their location when they decide enough money has been spent and pick them up. It is suggested we could even plant these chips in our body in the future.

Which is where my idea for a SportBrain application developed. You seem I am seriously p’eed off with the number of business liars I have met and had the misfortune to work with. I’m sure many other entrepreneurs share similar experiences. My version of the SportBrain would be developed to ensure integrity in business dealings. An alarm could sound if the wearer lies, you could monitor the rate at which the wearer lies and compare it to other liars. You could chose which companies you wanted to work with by looking up the website for information about the number of lies their executives and employees tell.

Trust. Five letters. Enormous word. Even bigger consequences if it is betrayed. Experience tells me that the damage of betraying trust or confidences – or worse still lying – is huge: it’s like being betrayed in a relationship, because to many entrepreneurs the strongest relationship they have is with their business.

I used to be the world’s most trusting person. Not any more. There are two betrayals of my trust that stand about above all others. One was business related, the other personal, but that’s not for this column. It’s more likely to be in the problem pages!

The first relates to the acquisition of my first business, an award-winning IT company of which the founders and employees were really proud. We were repeatedly lied to by the company that eventually took us over. And this week, some 34 months later, I am still fighting to bring the truth about certain “promises” to the surface.

At least that only affected the directors of my company. There’s an example I know of an innovative medical training company about to hit the big time. Angel investors had brought in a management team to support the business growth, but in fact they recruited the enemy within.  Within 18 months the team had stolen the Intellectual Property and started up their own company.

The trust they betrayed was not just that of the founder and investors – who were in actual fact friends with the chief cheat, although no longer I suspect. But they betrayed a trust with advisors, clients, potential partners and the wider medical health market.

So if your name is Bill or Des, Mike or Diane, Craig or Jim then I would be turning over a new leaf, for be sure your sins will find you out. See you in court, or on the SportBrain website.