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Why CXO’s cannot ignore Blockchain?

Jagruti Solanki, CPA, MBA, CGMA, and Assurance Partner, Aprio
Jagruti Solanki, CPA, MBA, CGMA, and Assurance Partner, Aprio

Jagruti Solanki, CPA, MBA, CGMA, and Assurance Partner, Aprio

CXO’s role involves providing an impeccable experience for the customers, whether they are internal or external customers.

Would Uber have been so successful if the company had not created an easy user interface backed by exceptional experience for the rider and the driver?

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when we look behind the veil, we will instantly see that user interface on the app is only one of the many aspects that need to be addressed to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

For instance, how quickly and efficiently do you address grievances, not only from customers but also the drivers? How do you train and onboard drivers so that the user experience stays consistent across the rides no matter which part of the world you take the ride? How do you tackle emergencies, safety, trust, quality, and the list goes on.

You get one thing wrong, and you fail the brand.

At the heart of CXOs role is to understand the company’s user base, not just the current demographics but also the changing ones.

Tectonic shifts happen once every few decades, like the shift from the horse carts to the cars, industrial revolution, extinction of typewriters because of word processors. Innovations in the internet space that made email, Uber, Airbnb possible that went on to render certain industries extinct.

We are at the crossroads of a similar technological shift in the form of blockchain technology.

Millennials trust Bitcoin more than banks

Blockchain technology is unique in that it was born with the primary objective of addressing the need of common men, a need that conventional systems were not able to fulfill, that need is trust.

Since its inception in 2009, blockchain has sustained its penetration in the world of commerce.

In fact, 82 percent of Fortune 100 companies have explored blockchain in some shape or form, and yet, many companies have not given serious thought to it.

Here is where CXO’s can make a mark. First, by educating themselves about the real and latent demand for this technology, and how it can change their operational model, what kind of impact will it have on the customers?

Remember, millennials make up for the largest percentage of the workforce at the moment, and they trust Bitcoin more than banks. This has prompted Fidelity, a rather conservative financial institution, to offer Bitcoin as part of a retirement plan.

These developments hint an underlying shift in the consumer base and their demands. Businesses that respond to those changing demands will thrive while those that turn deaf ear will be wiped out by those who are taking note.

Exploring blockchain technology is a business imperative

As corporate social responsibility continues to take precedence for a business to be successful, adherence to the environmental, social, and governance standards has become a critical part of a company’s operation.

Carrefour announced that blockchain tracking is boosting the sales of some products by increasing consumer trust. Blockchain allows digital tracking of custody of assets from source to end user. Consumers scan a QR barcode on a product with their phone and can easily find out the source of the raw material/ingredients of the product, date of harvest, packaging date, transportation time, etc. This increased consumer’s trust in the quality of items, and make better decisions based on their choices, all because they now have access to the data. Today, consumers are more inclined to purchase products that meet the safety and ethical standards, and Blockchain in conjunction with IoT can provide that data. Carrefour has also reported an improvement in their bottom-line by building in the blockchain tracking process in their operations.

Walmart has mandated its vendors to join the blockchain ecosystem to continue to be Walmart’s vendors. Walmart was quick to realize that what used to take days or even weeks to track will probably reduce to minutes or even seconds with the help of blockchain.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Blockchain can reduce the chances of credentials of a candidate being altered or faked, since that already been verified by multiple parties. This will cut down the amount of time and resources needed on background checks. Additionally, blockchain has introduced the concept of a “self-sovereign digital identity,” which means that the individual has full control of their personal data that is ‘verified’ on the blockchain. MIT is piloting a diploma system whereby the student can access their certification using a digital key that only the student can control, own, and access. When a recruiter wants to verify the certification, the student would need to release the information using his digital key. This eliminates the need for the employer to verify the certification with the school, thereby, saving time.

Simple steps that CXOs can take

CXOs can undertake a few simple steps to ascertain the need for adaption.

• Conduct an exploratory study on how blockchain will impact their industry

• Find out the customer pulse in the industry. Do the demographics support the integration of blockchain into the business, or is this something that industry is not yet ready to embrace?

• What are competitors doing to improve operational efficiency and their accountability to consumers?

• How will blockchain and cryptocurrencies impact international competition from entering into the domestic market, and how will that change consumer behavior and expectations?

The purpose of such exploratory study is to stay ahead of the change, not only to anticipate what’s coming but to shape the brand-new experience even before the competition conceives the gravity and consumers realized what to expect.

It is back to basics time for CXOs

To provide exceptional customer service, CXO has to understand what the customer wants.

- What happens when future generations and customers decide to use cryptocurrency instead of fiat?

- How are your operations and technology impacted if larger corporations mandate the use of blockchain?

Blockbuster did not fail because it’s business model was bad; it failed because it was not able to see what the internet was doing to the entertainment industry.

It is a similar story that is playing out in the world of business today with blockchain and cryptocurrencies. CXOs have the unique opportunity to address the challenge and drive exceptional experience.

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