What Small Businesses Must Know About Blockchain

By Gil Gerretsen

Bitcoin has been all over the news lately and there are many lively debates about its future value. Will it go up in value? Will it go down in value? Will it crash?

What people are NOT talking about is what it means for the future of business. There is a seismic shift coming and it is similar in magnitude to when the internet emerged and completely changed the landscape of how business was done. Many of those who didn't understand or ignored the internet were generally left behind. Their businesses suffered greatly or even ceased to exist.

Blockchain may well be the new technology that flips the business world on its head. It will likely rock the world of those who are unprepared, and unfortunately, most entrepreneurs currently know next to nothing about it. They might mumble something about Bitcoin or cryptocurrency, but they would struggle to go much further than that.

Here's why blockchain needs to be on your radar screen. In a study by Juniper Research, they found that over half (57%) of large corporations are actively moving towards the implementation of blockchain technology and over 2/3 expect full integration next year. Yes … in 2018! If the big guys are actively engaged, it will certainly impact the rest of the business world too.

It is outside the scope of this article to go into detail about what blockchain is, but there are many good primers available on the internet.

How Will Blockchain Affect Marketing?

Blockchain will not change the fundamental principles of marketing, but it will change how transactions with customers happen. Blockchain technology allows anyone to transfer assets from one person to another without a third-party trust broker (i.e. bank). The data and information is protected by its' decentralization and peer overwatch. Right now, a hacker can rob a single data center, but hacking a blockchain would be like trying to rob 10,000 secure data centers at exactly the same moment. 

What’s your blockchain strategy?” will soon become a common question among cutting-edge entrepreneurs and marketers. Your answer should at least be, "To know what it is and how it might impact what we do." You need to recognize that blockchain technology will soon begin to reset the control of data, relationships and value creation.

Although the technology is still being shaped, and too expensive for smaller businesses, you need to be informed about it. Your first step should be to start studying and watching folks who are beginning to dabble with the technology. It will seem complex and boring at first, but keep your entrepreneurial eyes open and you will protect yourself from a sudden market shift.

As you watch and wait, pay attention to how changes in blockchain technology will affect key areas of marketing, such as identity verification, information management, and consumer trust.

Certainly, the days where some marketers fabricated and spun their tales are coming to an end. Bullshitting and "fake it until you make it" will no longer be a viable business tactic. "Fake news" will quickly go the way of the dinosaur. Everything can, and will be, validated in an instant.

The genie is out of the bottle. You can decide what to do with the information but you'll never be able to say you didn’t know it was coming.