Better Tech Dev

Insights on Technology Development from Austin Higgins

Category: Technology Application

The Future of Business and What to Do Now

Most companies are undergoing a transformation in how they do business. This transformation started with the e-commerce wave and continued through big data, the cloud and more. Now, many companies are still in the middle of the transformation.

In the near future nearly every company will be a technology company and a media company.

The Technology Company

There are a number of ways to consider how companies will become technology focused. Companies use technology to replace processes, build services or as an end product and in hundreds of other ways.

The world is becoming more automated. Processes, data and documentation has already been digitized for decades. But more automation is replacing human processes. Chat bots and automated IVR system are simple examples of this. When was the last time you called a company – any company – and talked to someone immediately instead of going through an automated process? This is how a company leverages technology to outsource processes and must be technology focused to ensure the process still provides value to their customers.

The collection of data to enhance products and services has already disrupted organizations in recent years. Data is collected digitally, stored in a cloud and analyzed with algorithms. Companies of every industry need access to quality data to make decisions.

Even cottage industries or one-person service companies will have to become technology companies. Consider a carpenter or a plumber. How much more effective could they become by utilizing technology to automate certain processes and analyze data?

The Media Company

Brand loyalty is on the decline. People are cutting cable at high rates, so advertising dollars are being redirected. Pop-up ads are the bane of the Internet.

How will companies get the attention of customers?

Companies will have to tell compelling stories of their value and, essentially, why them. Large media and product brands have been doing this for years. Just think back on the last Super Bowl commercial that you talked about with friends after the game.

Regardless of company size, business leaders will have to tell stories with engaging content across multiple platforms and media types.

What You Can Do Now

 While you can still succeed as an organization today without being a tech company or a media company, that time will come to an end at some point. So, what can you do today?

  1. Evaluate your manual systems and identify what can be automated.
  2. Perform an assessment of your digital assets and ensure that all data flows have integrity.
  3. Ask the big questions about your product and services – how can you digitize it? How can you have access to high-quality data? What can you do with your data to make better decisions?
  4. Identify the most successful marketing campaigns and determine the emotional impact they had on your customers.
  5. Engage your employees, partners and customers to find the right stories to tell in the right way.

Every industry is moving at a different pace, but they are all headed in the same direction: technology and storytelling. The only question you have to ask yourself is are you on the same path?

Blockchain Simplified

I regularly hear people talk about blockchain, bitcoin and distributed databases in the business and investment community. Cybersecurity is becoming more important by the day and business leaders are trying to find ways to optimize their technology work. So, I’m not suprised when someone tells me that they must get blockchain or do blockchain.

After a number of these conversations, I started to realize that most people get one thing fundamentally wrong with blockchain. Blockchain isn’t something you do.

The origins

Many people know the story of bitcoin and its rise to financial dominance. Few people know exactly why blockchain needed to be created, though. The problem with bitcoin and non-traditional financial transactions is there needed to be a factor of trust between two parties.

In our current financial system, banks act as the keeper of all records and therefore agents of trust. If I were to send someone money from my account, how can the recipient be sure that I didn’t already spend the money? In today’s environment, the bank ensures I do not overdraw or double-pay someone.

The creator of bitcoin needed a mechanism to ensure trust between two anonymous parties. The goal of blockchain was to replace the responsibility of the bank. Because there was no centralized ledger of transactions, he created a method to tie each transaction to the previous transaction. This is a chain of transactions, or blocks.

This chain of transactions is distributed across many computers and is used as a form of authentication. If a transaction doesn’t match the the chain of transactions, it likely isn’t valid and will not be added to the chain.

Blockchain validates bitcoin transactions and stores these transactions across a number of hard drives so the likelihood of a breach of trust is virtually zero.

Google vs. Microsoft

To get a better understanding of how blockchain compares to a standard bank, compare Google Sheets to Microsoft Excel. They are both similar software with similar functions and uses. A main difference between the two is how you send and receive updates when collaborating with someone.

Traditionally with Microsoft Excel you must make your updates, save it and then send it to someone else for them to make updates. Then, you have to wait for it to be sent back. Only one person can edit this file at one time. You are reliant on a some sort of version control to know which is the most accurate version.

This is how banks operate with traditional transaction environments. Only one person can access funds at a time. You initiate a transaction, then wait.

With Google Sheets multiple people have access to the same single version at the same time. They can view and edit the document without sending it back and forth. Version control isn’t needed because it is a main component of how the software functions.

Blockchain uses distributed, linked ledgers as a way to eliminate version control from banks or any other intermediately. While Google Sheets does not run on blockchain, the analogy is useful. The purpose and general functions of Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are the same. The main difference is in how it accomplishes the general functions.

How, not what.

Blockchain is a method to ensure integrity of transactions between two parties. It isn’t just a peer-to-peer network or distributed network. It also isn’t just a ledger of accounts. Blockchain is a system to fulfill the responsibilities of a centralized, authorization organization in a distributed, anonymous and secure manner.

Blockchain has been used outside of bitcoin and currency for some time. Music companies like PledgeMusic are using blockchain technology to ensure artists are paid when fans listen to or download their music. Blockchain is used as the intermediary. AScribe is a service for artists to sell their work online and protect against copyright infringement.

Like the Google Docs analog and bitcoin, these two companies are using blockchain in how they conduct business not as what they do. Blockchain isn’t something you do, it is a way you conduct the technology side of your business. So, when someone says they need to adopt blockchain or “do” blockchain, they must clarify exactly the goal they are trying to accomplish.

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