Actively managing your corporate reputation is vital. Soon, there will be no space for fraud, security breaches, unethical shortcuts by management, marketing fibs, outright lies or online bumbling.
Pushing this change is a growing public discontent. People are fed up with the numerous, high-profile security breaches of late. People feel vulnerable and violated.
Nor are they keen on dubious marketing claims, rampant outsourcing, bloated administrations, or risks glossed over by desperate managers and directors.
Hence, industries are “disrupted.” Everywhere, people talk about decentralized models. Customers want a say in how businesses behave. And everyone wants corporations to take their data and their trust seriously.
Enter blockchain. It’s the ledger system underpinning Bitcoin. Once integrated, blockchain will ensure that a brand’s purpose will never again be reduced to puffery. No longer will human fear, avarice or frailty compromise the corporate mission. Rather than serving as the shiny façade of the business, core values will be inviolable elements. Relationships between directors, shareholders, employees, suppliers and the public will be visible.
Corporate Fumbles in the News: The Loss of Public Trust and Loyalty
Recently, hackers got into Under Armour’s nutrition app MyFitnessPal. The company lost further trust when word got out that it had only partially integrated the advanced hashing technology that would have obstructed the breach of customer security.
Facebook managed to put a new twist on abusing users’ trust. It let tens of millions of users’ data leak out, and then allowed shady enterprises to profile these same users and manipulate their news feeds to influence U.S. election results.
Both kinds of data breaches are the sorts of things that make Luddites say they told you so. But we’re living in the irreversible age of data. Breaches like this are leading to a tipping point: if companies want to reach people online, they had better be technologically up-to-date, and they had better take their customers’ trust seriously.
New, Blockchain-Based Social Networks are Coming
The Facebook scandal reveals underlying problems with today’s internet. Corporations that control our digital identities can sell our data to politicians, marketers, and swindlers.
Blockchain has the potential to decentralize the system, enabling users to assume control of their online identities. Plus, blockchain can protect against identify theft. This vastly diminishes actors who would benefit from targeted control or propaganda. Blockchain social networks could replace our current, commercially motivated social networks.
Expect significant strides in blockchain through the year ahead. Emerging business leaders can, beginning this year, study blockchain strategy at Oxford University. As a global networks of innovators forms, developers are creating distributed trust systems to transform our social networks. They’re working with new programming languages (Ethereum has Solidity, for example). In the year ahead, we can anticipate blockchain’s impact on the internet and in every sector it touches and the impressive growth of its currencies.
Core Values: This Time, Really
P.T. Barnum said there’s a sucker born every minute, but distributed ledger technology (which underlies Bitcoin) will protect that sucker by enabling the recording and sharing of data by a whole community. Consider a label that touts some value-added element in a product. Such labels command higher payments from customers, but can people trust them? With the blockchain ledger in place, labels will mean business. If a product is “cruelty-free,” “conflict-free,” “sustainable” or “fair-trade” the customer can verify the claim. Marketing gimmicks won’t work any more.
Nor can the blockchain ledger be altered. An attempt to change a record, a vehicle, or a route will stop the intelligent contract from coming to completion. Fraud will be kept out of supplies, whether in agriculture, transportation, drugs or medical devices. Crime syndicates in your grocery store’s supply chain? Fake oils or horse meat under another label? Not in the coming economy.
Hallmarks of a New Business Era
Blockchain will transform human legal and commercial relationships. Until blockchain, we’ve had to verify claims through third-party intermediaries to provide us with a reason to trust a claim. The use of trustless networks will lower administrative costs as people instantly prove that the object is what it claims to be, that they own the object, or that they have authored the material in a transaction.