Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that generates so much buzz and has so many expectations to fulfil, is still on its way up. A lot has been said, yelled sometimes even, and now it’s time to see what sticks and discover how Blockchain can add true value to our lives.
Jessica Hofmann, Founder & Managing Director, Atos Blockchain Factory:
You can see Jessica Hofmann on stage at the European Women in Tech conference on 28th & 29th November 2018, where she will present her talk ‘Building Business in Blockchain’. Click here for more details.
As Managing Director of the Atos Blockchain Factory, I’m part of this explorative movement: on a daily basis I work with enthusiastic customers eager to assess and discover the value of Blockchain for them. Not an easy task, when you consider that the potential of Blockchain sometimes seems endless, and it’s difficult to pinpoint where to start. As such, I’ve been exploring how to help customers best; please consider my key insights.
Even though the technology has been around for a while, a majority of the market is still in a preliminary stage; questions like ‘what is Blockchain?’ and ‘how does Blockchain add value for me?’ come across frequently. In addition, customers often carry that excited-yet-cautious approach that comes with engaging in something new: it’s exciting and frightening at the same time. Can’t blame them; if Blockchain does live up to its potential it might introduce new business models, strategies and who-knows-what-else.
At the same time, there’s also an ‘I must do something’ atmosphere; “everyone” seems to move into Blockchain so, to keep up and don’t miss out, one must move. All combined creates a challenge from a delivery perspective, as customer requests not only exist of simple questions such as ‘what is Blockchain?’; we also must consider other influences that affect decision-making, to make sure we don’t rush anyone or anything. So the question remains: how to help customers best?
For me, this all comes down to two key requirements: finding the right point of departure and finding the right pace to move at. The point of departure differs per customer, but generally ranges from ‘help me understand Blockchain’ to ‘help me design, build and host a Blockchain solution for this particular problem’. Not every point of departure is easy to catch, but some effort, design workshops and good conversations with a cup of coffee go a long way.
Once the point of departure is established, one can start looking forward to paving a sustainable and value-adding Blockchain strategy. In this, I consider finding the right pace to be most challenging because there are many factors of influence: urgency of the request, urgency of the problem that is to be solved, deadlines, current business conduct, risk-adversity, willingness to innovate, budgets, etc. Thus, every customer has his own pace and there’s no right or wrong as long as Blockchain adds true value; one might opt for a working application within weeks, while the other prefers to do months of research prior to any development work. Both are of added value when they suit the customer wishes, ambitions and way-of-working.
The two requirements have something in common: they can’t be obtained without a first-class customer relationship. A point of departure won’t be as effective as it can be if you don’t know how the customer request suits their ideas, problems, vision and ambitions; the right pace is more difficult to find when you don’t know the customer’s business conduct, problems and willingness to innovate. So long story short? Consider customer relationship as the fundament to build on; this way, maximum added value is achieved – and the customer is served best.