“Is blockchain something that marketing is going to create its own value from, or where they need to find out what other parts of the business are doing and tell a story?” he asked.
The question marketers should ask, Weber said, is “can you take the sense of trust and transparency which are values brands believe they have and want to communicate, and can you use that to tell a progressive story about your brand?”
In some cases, he added, it could go further than this: some brands will be able to use blockchain to provide extra verification about their supply chain, which would allow them to employ labels similar to Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified.
For others, he said, the technology could allow them to broker trust for other brands, or to create brand new products: “can you create a service using blockchain that couldn’t have existed before?”
Weber was speaking this morning alongside Hugo Pinto, managing director UK and Ireland of AccentureDigital, at Campaign’s Breakfast Briefing, Blockchain: Myth Versus Reality.
Pinto used the opportunity to dismiss some commonly believed “bullshit” about blockchain. For example, he said that while many believe that a blockchain record is immutable, it can in fact be changed if a majority of participants agree – similar to the way Wikipedia is edited. But if it is changed, it will always show that it was changed.
The problem for many businesses, Pinto said, is that “we focus too much on technology and not on how much we need to change to adopt it. There’s no point just taking what you do today and dumping it onto the blockchain.”
Another issue, Weber said, was the reputational problems caused by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are still the most famous applications to use the technology.
Quoting a New York Times article, he argued that “the power of blockchain is obscured by a veritable goon squad of charlatans, false prophets and mercenaries.”
In fact, blockchain is being used for some undeniably positive ends, he said, including to provide digital identities to refugees, and to cut out counterfeit drugs from pharma supply chains.