Should non-tech businesses explore the potential of the blockchain?
According to AngelList, there are 1,600+ blockchain startups today that have been backed by more than 900 angel investors. These companies claim to be at the cutting edge of technology, implementing blockchain to cut costs, save time, and improve compliance.
But what about the rest of the businesses? Should non-tech businesses spend time and explore the potential of the blockchain? The short answer is yes, and here are a few reasons why.
Regardless of your industry, today every business leverages the internet and 88% of businesses are on social media. The internet is a tool that enables a new way to interact with customers, raise brand awareness, and collaborate at work.
Similarly, we are witnessing the rise of legitimate blockchain-enabled software and services for businesses. Here are ways that non-tech businesses can benefit from blockchain technology.
Blockchain for supply chain management
There are many, many steps in a supply chain. Typically, a physical good goes through the following steps: ideation, creation, production, importation, distribution, and transaction. In addition, retailers also have to properly process returns, refunds, and defects.
The current landscape is a series of processes, some automated and some manual, that are stacked on on top of another. In fact, most of the software today is simply a digitized version of paper. For example, international shipping today relies on data transmitted via electronic data interchange (EDI), which is a technology that is six decades old (ComputerWorld)!
But what if we completely rethought supply chain management in 2018?
Instead of having a patchwork of systems, there could be one blockchain where items are identified from beginning (raw material) to end (final sale). As items move from one phase, like production, to another, like importation, all relevant parties would be updated and the transaction would be time-stamped. Items could even be geolocated by placing small GPS transponders in individual shipping crates.
This technology would allow everyone in the supply chain, from the owner of a single warehouse to a company that does distribution for national brands, to improve their efficiency.
Blockchain for sales and lead generation
If you sell a product or service to consumers or other businesses, you understand how important (and difficult) generating leads can be. Traditionally, sales reps have relied on cold calls and cold emails to reach prospects. Similarly, marketing teams have created campaigns to generate interest in their offerings.
Both of these are indirect methods involve you reaching out to people who may be interested, but they may have already bought from a competitor, or they may not have the budget, be ready, or want your product.
The blockchain can turn this equation around. For example, blockchain startup LeadCoin has a two-sided marketplace for real-time leads. You can go onto their platform to sell your less relevant leads and purchase relevant, hot leads.
For instance, imagine a company that sells insurance to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the United States. This company could sell any leads that are too big, or located outside of the US, on LeadCoin. It could then spend money to purchase hot leads from companies in its target demographic.
This is one more way that blockchain-enabled technology is influencing all industries. You do not need to be located in Silicon Valley to take advantage of this new, powerful sales technology.
Blockchain for the automotive industry
Back in 2015, DocuSign partnered with Visa to create an end-to-end solution for automotive leasing. By combining DocuSign’s platform and Visa’s payment technology, the two companies were able to create a 100% digital leasing experience.
As the customer picks a car and updates their lease data (e.g., mileage, duration, down payment), the new information is appended to the block. And once the contract is electronically signed, that block is added to the blockchain.
Combine this data with a Visa credit card, and the driver is ready to go within minutes! Even the lease payments and insurance are taken care of thanks to Visa’s secure payments technology.
Traditionally, leasing a new car is a long, complicated process. It often takes hours and most people, who are not experts in finance or the automotive industry, find the process to be confusing.
Blockchain technology also opens up the opportunity to share relevant information within the automotive industry: from the sales department to the service department, or from dealer to dealer, or even from manufacturer and dealer to insurance company and repair shop.
In this example, we can once again see how the blockchain can add transparency and dramatically improve the experience for customers.
While you may not work in a technology company, you still use technology, from smartphones and computers to the internet and software, to be more productive. Similarly, you should think of the blockchain technology as a new, enabling force in the workplace.