‘Business is about ethics, principles, and trust. In a world of massive big data and increasing real-time information, strong ethics and client trust can become powerful assets for businesses. Blockchain technologies can be the key to implementing these principles and foundations.
Google index of the keyword “principle” defines it as:
- a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning.
“the basic principles of justice”
synonyms: truth, proposition, concept, idea, theory, postulate;
- a general scientific theorem or law that has numerous special applications across a wide field.
According to Wikipedia “trust” means a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning. Its synonyms are truth, proposition, concept, idea, theory, postulate.
How can technology improve trust and how can business people and their brands stick to their ethical principles when using technology, particularly when bearing in mind we have so many different digital identities? Blockchain disruptive technology is becoming the default tool for a business and brand default trust protocol. But that implies a fundamental shift in creating one single point smart contract digital identity.
For years, brands have built up trust — or at least the perception of trust — in the minds of their audiences through advertising, celebrity sponsorships, influencer marketing, and general brand awareness efforts. The mindset of businesses was: “If our customers see us a lot, in familiar places, and we are associated with people they already like, they will trust us, and we will stand to benefit.”
That worked for a long time. Today, however, due to the recent turns on politics, partly based on perverse ways of technologies, and widespread scandals, trust is in a global freefall per the Edelman Trust Barometer, 2017.
What can be done?
How can Blockchain be leveraged for ethical business?
The global economy will become increasingly digitalised. As this happens we will need to create a digital trust protocol. This concept by Don Tapscott and his son Alex Tapscott highlights brilliantly the possibility of using blockchain based technologies to create principles of digital identity and businesses will be able to use these foundations, partly through smart contracts to highlight the trust and the principles that cannot be broken in non-effective or corrupted ways. came up with five potential transformations triggering prosperous businesses connecting trust/ethics and blockchain:
In order to look at this one can look and some potential transformations triggering prosperous businesses and their brands connecting trust/ethics and blockchain:
- Blockchain can add billions to the global economy since it can democratise the technology distribution of wealth partly by summarising middle man extensive processes that are slowing and adding extra layers of complexity to the global economy and financial systems. Most people in underdeveloped countries have a cell phone over a bank account but the interesting thing is that their cell phone acts as a small business, data and in many cases a bank agency! They can use their phone to safely transact without a large intermediary and related fees. See the case of the MPesa economy in
- Blockchain can protect the various different types of personal, business and brand rights through immutable smart contract technology records. More identity processes and payments can be securely shared.
- Blockchain can become a foundational system for business as it can profile each business and brand online in an effective and trustful way. At the moment any business struggles to have one effective digital identity as each business struggles with a digital landscape of billions of websites, IOT objects and billions of social media profiles.
- Blockchain if used in a decentralised way can create a REAL circular economy – or improve in an effective way the sharing economy. Collaboration can flourish in a secure and accessible environment.
- Blockchain can reinvent the financial markets and special the payment and remittance markets, which as it is, is a chaos of corrupted non transparent systems and middle men. If implemented corrected can create a new process that no longer needs to conduct business and related transactions overseas through a large and expensive layer (in some case various) of intermediary. Micro businesses, and brands will thus have a greater opportunity to grow.
- Blockchain enables citizens and governements (discloser if used in a sound decentralised way) to own and monetize their registration, data and protects their privacy. The individual now has further access to a financial and secure payment systems and more possibilities will appear, as Blockchain technology and its related applications and systems evolve.
As We Experience Crisis All Over The World, Technology driven Trust Becomes A Foundational Protocol
The global wold business drivers are SMEs and small family businesses. These general population’s and businesses have their trust foundations in four key institutions — business, government, NGOs, and media. In general this trust has declined broadly, a phenomenon not reported since Edelman Trust Barometer study / research began tracking trust among this segment in 2012.
As Bernadette Jiwa eloquently wrote,
“Trust is also the foundation of every business. A business is not merely an organization that creates value or exchanges goods and services for money. It is the promises we make to our customers in return for their trust. … The first and last goal of every business is to make promises and then to keep them.”
Yet the use of different velocities of technology and the lack of understanding of the various velocities of the global economy are creating a paradoxical understanding of the world we live and at the moment we are in a shift of very advanced disrupted innovative technologies that have been used to create negative perception and in an old media tradition to be manipulated. So all these advanced in technology time and time again, are highlighting the fact that basic promises have been broken by the large institutions in our lives. Almost too many to mention, but just a few include the promises of:
“We will safeguard your money” — see 2008 financial crisis.
“We will safeguard your personal data” — see many increasing hacks ofUS elections, Talk Talk, Target, Yahoo, Anthem, Premera, and much more.
“We will act in your best interest” — see Most of the global banks.
If you want to know more about this breaching of trust, read, the article HuffPo’s “8 Companies That Lied To You.” Moving forward, you don’t need the Edelman report to tell you that people are tired of feeling deceived by big institutions and they are rebelling, which might explain Brexit and the recent paradoxical election of Donald Trump.
People are now tired of trusting simply because some big brand or advertising agency tells them that they should. As the old adage goes: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” People are becoming smarter.
So what is a business or brand that lives upon its values? This is where blockchain driven technology will play a role.
Blockchain Can Be A Trusted Default Technological Intermediary
Chances are you’ve heard of Bitcoin. Less likely, but possible, you’ve heard of blockchain technology, which undergirds Bitcoin, and provides a censorship-proof, distributed, immutable set of software rules that govern the operation of the Bitcoin network.
This technology is great for transferring value (that’s what Bitcoin does) without an intermediary. It’s also open to anyone and can be inspected and verified by anyone. In other words, anyone can see what code is written, how it is to be executed, and the fact that a transaction took place.
At its core, blockchain serves the function of “trusted intermediary” without the overhead, friction, or time associated with an actual company or organization.
The possible implementations and implications of blockchain technology are vast. Hundreds of use cases in multiple industries are emerging, and announcements are made almost daily.
For example, the DTCC is now using blockchain to settle its $11 trillion in derivatives trades (a big part of the world economy); Homeland Security is looking at blockchain to track goods and people across borders; Cisco, Bosch, and BNY are forming an IOT blockchain consortium; and the FDA is looking at blockchain to help with population health management. And that doesn’t even touch on the numerous efforts within the financial services industry.
But there’s another use case, a horizontal one, that should give marketers and brand managers — at least those who are genuinely honest, ethical, and want to do the right thing — a cause for celebration.
Just as blockchain tech can serve as a trusted intermediary in transferring value from one person to another, it can do the same in transferring brand values from an organization to a customer by encoding brand values into a corporate governance blockchain.
Blockchain As A Gatekeeper Of Business and Brand Values
Imagine, for example, that you want to be like Nordstrom, with a lenient return policy (at least until they changed it recently), and you set up a brand rule that says: “Anytime a customer returns an item, we give them their money back, no questions asked.”
If you use blockchain technology, you can do that, and no one can override it. It doesn’t matter if an employee is having a bad day or doesn’t know the rules. You could encode on your blockchain trust protocol: “If a customer has been with us for more than one year, give them a full refund, but less than a year, only 50 percent.” And the refund, automatically happens.
Let’s make it more concrete.
L.L. Bean has a core values statement that says, “Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, and they will always come back for more.”
Now, we straight away come across a subjective issue. What means “reasonable profit”? What if they hard coded a rule into a corporate governance blockchain that said reasonable profit means something like 15 or 20 percent?
Then, everyone (yes, including their competition) would know the margins. At the same time, customers would always feel like they were being treated fairly. On the other hand, what would this do to business? What happens when you bridge theory with practice?
Anyway, the goal with this article is not about the specific policy or core values example here. It’s about the transparency, the verifiability, and the knowledge a customer has that she is being treated fairly.
Over this article, we reviewed the value of trust and principles in business and how blockchain driven technologies can help organisations and brands implement that fundamental value. By removing human fallibility systems and the temptation to correcup or “bend the rules,” encoding business and brand values into a foundational blockchain that can provide organisation with a smart contract customer-verifiable way to ensure that experiences are consistent, open, and above all transparent. A company that is so committed to a certain set of behaviours that it is willing to code them into an application based software which is impossible to corrupt and immutable therefore yielding a competitive advantage.
This is a long and ambitious way and there are a lot of risks in the way as mankind has displayed an irrationality periodically during history. Moreover, I’ll have to admit that this change is not easy and has to be driven by persistence and ethical principles, and it will not happen from one day to the other. In an age of advanced and fast disruption where the perception of what is fairness is sensitive and trust are at a low, the development of the set of blockchain driven technology represents a new fantastic opportunity for businesses and organisations to demonstrate that they can be trusted and using a more powerful system for that.
This implies a powerful system of values and a redesign of the world economy, for now hyper-centralised in few monopolies. Moreover, this can only happen if blockchain becomes a force for good driven by intelligent AI and distributed P2P technology systems. Artificial Intelligence can be used for a lot of things some of them quite scary.
At the moment there are almost no big Industries Where Blockchain Cannot Be Used. The list is big but lets us look at 30:
- Government systems
- Education and academic records
- Non for profit and charities
- Electoral processing and voting systems
- Real state
- Analytics and data records
- Banking and Finance systems
- Payment and money transferences
- Technology and Cloud systems
- Security and cyber security systems
- Healthcare and hospitals
- Supply chain systems
- Content production and rewarding systems
- Music industry
- Sales and marketing
- Loyalty systems
- Militar industry and gun trackings
- Wills and inheritances
- Law enforcement
- Human resources
- Sharing economy and ride sharing
- Sports management
- Stock trading
- Forecasting systems
Blockchain technology is not the saviour is another advanced development of technology. What makes it special are its powerful immutable and decentralised principles and smart contracts proof of concept that are now being applied to most of the business sectors. The challenge is how to effective make blockchain scalable in a very fragmented and unequal economy where most businesses struggle to find a common system and ground. This is the opportunity to make blockchain the most qualified trust foundation technology that can highlight new identity principles and support businesses growth and its brands move to a new system of transparency.