Not Another Block in the Chain: Data and Blockchain Technology

Click to learn more about author Rex Chen.

If more security breaches on social media and elsewhere happen, or if the number of accounts violated by groups both foreign and domestic increases, if the status quo persists, expect more people to insist that their data have better protection than the cyber equivalent of a chair angled against a door. Expect consumers to withhold valuable information, until an alternative emerges, which is immune from the everyday thievery that happens, sadly, every day online. Expect a mass migration of shoppers to platforms that use Blockchain technology.

Expect companies to try to learn more about their consumers before this shift starts, provided these businesses want to know how to communicate with their consumers after this change is permanent. Expect them to choose between delving into the realm of conversation, rather than diving into the deepest depths of potentially erroneous data; which is to say there is only so much information the best software can find and sort, so business owners can interpret the results for themselves, until someone has to do what no program has ever done: engage people as human beings, not as data points for which an algorithm selects a specific word, for a specific group, to say, “Hello.”

When will companies have their salespeople say hello to consumers? How can any company transform data into a means of discussion if it treats sales as a science, when it is not––and will never be––a discipline like math or physics? How can a company know that data is not determinative, unless it accepts that people are only predictable because of their natural tendency to be unpredictable? In other words, we can have all available data about a consumer––and a lot of that data comes from reviewing what that person says and does through social media––and still not know how to communicate with this individual, unless we do it ourselves.

I raise this point because we are at a point where consumers prefer to say less rather than more. And why should they, when there is no certainty that their data will not be a tool for political exploitation or public exposure? Why would anyone knowingly make himself vulnerable to attack, when the biggest miners of data have done such a poor job enforcing privacy?

If companies want consumers to divulge relevant data, they must earn the trust of the very people they have disrespected by design or disregarded by their own indifference. They must commit themselves to do the work of––they must prove their commitment to––citizenship. By which I mean, they must be upfront about why they want to know more about their prospective consumers, so they can communicate with all of their respective shoppers more effectively.

The data that emerges from this effort should be the basis of a new era of customized communication. It should inspire consumers as much as it informs them about deals, discounts, or dividends. It should empower them to act, so long as they know they have a platform that safeguards their actions. Blockchain technologies can help this transition.

Welcome to the beginning of a new chapter involving Data Management.

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