You hear how blockchain will revolutionise business by redefining companies and economies with crypto currencies. But when? If you study technical based innovation you know that the blockchain revolution and the use of crypto currency has many barriers — technological, governance, organisational and even societal.
I believe that blockchain will have a fundamental impact on the individual and on how a collection of individuals can rapidly become part of a community with a whole different take on the way the world operates. You can see it happening now in the way people join ICOs, sharing the experience and hooking into that community with a real commercial stake.
In reality, blockchain is not a ‘disruptive’ technology, defined as something that can attack a traditional business model with a low cost solution and kill incumbent firms rapidly. Blockchain is a foundational technology and hence is something that communities can sprout from. I see a fantastic future of new foundations being made for our economic and social systems where crypto currencies add the fuel to make them mean something.
Blockchain by its very nature can deal with complexity of relationships easily and make it simple to build a social network that is worthwhile because of the trust generated for other connections to sign onto it. The more users of the application who come on board, the more value generated for all participants who own currencies tied to that blockchain.
If we are to see the mass adaptation of crypto currencies, we are going to need to see more ICOs and business plans that cover off the community building aspects of blockchain. Think back to 1993 with web development — most early websites were basically brochures in a digital form. Hardly any of them leveraged the capabilities of the internet. And now we have history repeating itself, with blockchain ideas not really being about blockchain leverage or function, but more to do with, “hey guys, I got a new toy to play with!”
There is close to zero attempt to build a community and that is where many ICOs will become flash-in-the-pans. At the moment there is tremendous weight given to the crowd funding part of an ICO, but scant regard for the real power of blockchain — vibrant communities powered by a valuable, sustainable and trusted currency.
Blockchain shows promising signs of powering an entirely new kind of community based on a defined constitution that is put in code. If you add a powerful brand, with real appeal, emotional connection and desire, you have a game changing moment in business and branding.
Think about a community where actions, ideas and projects are submitted in the form of a Smart Contract on which everyone can vote. If the threshold defined in the constitution is met, the proposal gets activated for the community or the individual. Such contracts can help a community organise events and get togethers. The brand can reward specific members for participation, for doing their part to help the community to thrive, along with unanimously assigning certain responsibilities to an individual. The other participants vote to assign a role to an individual, but if the person doesn’t complete the job or acts like an A-hole, the votes can be withdrawn, taking the role away.
In this way communities can thrive in an environment where power is not concentrated in the hands of a few, but led by a brand that is simply there to support a community and only wields the power that the community allows it to wield. And that can only happen if people see value in the community and the way the brand supports it.
In the future, businesses with a strong brand will not only be about providing value through products or services, they will also be about providing value through the community for the good of the community. Imagine the screaming impact of a powerful tribe evangelising the brand, with that passion easily verified in the blockchain, which contains a complete history of performance captured for future prosperity. And how products with value can truly stand out, verified by the community to produce authenticity on another level. Can this change the standards and quality that people will demand? Now think of complete histories, of market led development, testing and joint ventures, and now you have communities powered by blockchain becoming the new norm for businesses of the next decade, which totally reinvent the relationships people have with brands, products and value.
Contracts, transactions and records define structures in our economic, legal and political systems. Apply this to brands, products, offers and authentic experiences, which are either purchased or earned, and you have a new era of marketing. Blockchain is at the heart of virtual currencies as an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically, releasing administrative requirements, but also putting the makers of products into direct connection with the buyers. Middleman? Kiss him goodnight!
With new levels of trust, new ways to build a brand and new powerful engaged communities the size of nations, I see a future of mass adaptation of crypto currencies that could destroy global supply chains, usher in greater demands for mass customisation and place tougher demands on quality because shoddiness will have nowhere to hide.