Should you be considering using blockchain for your customer loyalty program? – Interview with Jessica Groopman and Jeremiah Owyang

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Today’s interview is with Jessica Groopman and Jeremiah Owyang, industry analysts and founding partners at Kaleido Insights. They join me today to talk about blockchain, customer loyalty programmes and why and when you should be considering learning more.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Every great business has a backstory that drives and compels the work they do – Interview with Bernadette Jiwa – and is number 267 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my interview with Jessica and Jeremiah:

  • Kaleido Insights focus on looking at how new technologies are helping companies to connect to their customers.
  • Back in March, Jeremiah posted a piece on his blog called: Analysis: Should Blockchain Power Your Customer Loyalty Program?
  • A definition of blockchain technology is that it is a distributed ledger technology that is more secure than having just a centralized database or a distributed database rights.
  • The ledger element implies that a blockchain is a database where we can all see the same transactions taking place. Think of it as a shared transaction database.
  • When it comes to blockchain, transactions don’t need to be monetary but can be events taking place i.e. downloading a program or scanning a barcode or accessing a medical record.
  • Everyone in the network verifies a transaction and nothing can be added or amended without everyone’s agreement.
  • From there we get an immutable record.
  • There are all sorts of applications across the organizational landscape for this type of technology. Everything from contracts to career records to managing supply chains etc etc.
  • Blockchain technology can be used wherever there’s many different parties involved.
  • However, let’s not confuse blockchain with cryptocurrencies or Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). These are only one application of the underlying technology.
  • There are also private and public versions of blockchain technology.
  • One interesting example is how Hernando de Soto, the renowned Peruvian economist and activist, is developing a global property registry system to surface the property rights of billions of people in the developing world using blockchain technology.
  • Other permutations include recording and protecting copyrights associated with music, managing supply chains and capturing expertise for different trades like doctors, particularly when they may have trained in countries which are different to the one where they are practising.
  • Jeremy Epstein of NeverStopMarketing is a great source for news and insights around blockchain and marketing applications.
  • The average American, for example, is a member of some 30 different programs but only a quarter, roughly, stay in these membership programs.
  • There are a number of problems with loyalty programs as they stand:
    • Complexity
    • Integration issues, particularly when applied across a number of suppliers and partners.
    • Balance sheet liability.
    • Fraud and counterfeit issues.
  • We see blockchain as a potential way to not only encode the rules of loyalty programs but also manage the recording and spending of points.
  • There is, however, a lot of both fraud and hype in this space right now and a lot of it originates in crypto currency markets.
  • But, there is a real difference between the crypto currency markets and the enterprise applications that are emerging.
  • These are fundamentally different ecosystems, fundamentally different technology architectures and have different decision makers.
  • It is likely there will be a real bifurcation in the market for enterprise blockchains. One will be driven by a wide open developer community of crypto enthusiasts, individual developers and startups and the other will be driven by large corporations, governments and enterprises and these will look very, very different.
  • Given the complexity of some loyalty programmes, a number of companies have announced that they are adopting blockchain for use in their loyalty programs. They include:
  • All of these examples show that the range of different ways of thinking about this loyalty opportunity.
  • However, it’s important to keep in mind, that in the end of the day simplicity always wins.
  • When we talk about private blockchains, especially in the early days, most of the loyalty applications will be run on private blockchains and they will use a fundamentally different kind of consensus algorithm than what are used on other public blockchains.
  • One of the things that we see taking shape in the next few years is a push towards industry consortia all in the name of getting the relevant and interested players around the table to start to talk about issues, standards and how they can and should work together.
  • Before getting started with blockchain, first look for the business problem.
  • If you have a fragmented customer experience in your loyalty program with many different providers that may not know each other or trust each other and you can’t keep track of the loyalty program experience then this use case might make sense for you.
  • Check out and do take part in Kaleido Insights’ Blockchain for Brands survey (it only has 7 questions, takes less than 5 mins to complete and is targeted at brands, tech vendors, service providers and government organisations).


About Jessica and Jeremiah

Jessica GroopmanJessica Groopman specializes in automation technologies impact business including IoT, AI, and blockchain.

She concentrates on the application of sensors and machine learning with a focus on user experience and data integrity. Past clients range from start-ups to media agencies to large brands including Technicolor, Microsoft, Honeywell, Cisco, Qualcomm, Dell, Intel, DuPont, Pandora, and numerous vendors to develop research, content, and digital strategies.

Jessica is a frequent speaker at IoT industry events. She is also a frequent contributor to numerous blogs and /media outlets. She has been principal analyst with Tractica where she contributed to their automation and robotics practice. She has also served as contributing member of the International IoT Council, the IEEE’s Internet of Things Group, IoT Guru Network, and FC Business Intelligence’s IoT Nexus Advisory Board. Jessica was also included in Onalytica’s list of the 100 Most Influential Thought Leaders in IoT.

Jessica served as research director and principal analyst with Harbor Research and as an industry analyst with Altimeter Group. Earlier, she lead research at Focus Research and was a research analyst at Tippit Research.

Jeremiah OwyangJeremiah Owyang focuses on how new technologies impact business models and how corporates must innovate.

He focuses on how disruptive technologies—such as social media, collaborative economy, autonomous world, blockchain and more—and how they impact the relevance to corporations.
He is well recognized by both the tech industry and the media for his grounded approach to deriving insights through rigorous research.

Jeremiah is frequently quoted in top-tier publication and cited in books and press and media. A frequent speaker, he’s also delivered a TED Talk. Jeremiah was featured in the “Who’s Who” in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, and his Twitter feed was named one of the top feeds by Time.

He is also the Founder of Crowd Companies, an innovation club for Fortune 500 companies, which he also manages independently from Kaleido Insights. Jeremiah was an Industry Analyst at Forrester Research, a founding partner at Altimeter Group, and a web marketing leader at Hitachi.

Check out Kaleido Insights, their Blockchain for Brands survey, say Hi to them, Jessica and Jeremiah on Twitter @kaleidoinsights, @JessGroopman and @jowyang and connect with Jessica and Jeremiah on LinkedIn here and here.

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Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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