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Getting to know about blockchain through B4W

In March 2019, I attended one of the blockchain society's (or also known as the blockhainers) event, called Women for Blockchains or W4B for short. I was interested because I know that blockchain is one of the emerging technologies that can bring significant disruption to the industry. As an IME student who are keen to gain as many insights as possible about the latest technology innovation, I was hoping that this event can give me a little bit more understanding about blockchain, and how it can be implemented in the business.

So W4B was established to inspire women to be more active in the technology industry especially blockchain. It was meant to break the stereotype of blockchain as a field dominated by men.

The event itself was quite long, taking place on Saturday morning from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Bright building. What's interesting about the event, is not only the high-profile women that thrive in blockchain as the speakers, there was also a workshop to create a smart contract for beginners using Modex, a software to create your own smart contract. In addition, there is also a mini competition to increase the interaction with the audiences. We were divided into several groups and need to come up with innovative ideas to address some particular issues by using blockchain technology.

One of the most interesting from all of the speaker's materials are the one that is brought by Sara Simone. Because she talked about how blockchain can be used for digital marketing. This definitely caught my attention; because she spoke in more understandable language, rather than with technical terms that, which I was not aware of.

Sara Simone, which is the VP of marketing & blockchain at Wakelet revealed her research regarding the digital marketing practice in some of the top companies. Later she found out that most of the marketing directors and CMOs in these companies are not using machine learning in their marketing strategy. Most of them rely on personal experiences and expertise to run a marketing campaign. Moreover, the strategy alteration itself tends to be reactive planning. Hence the marketing planning is based on the KPI achievement, whether it was successful or not.  Further, practitioners are sceptical with the formal planning frameworks and methodologies such as marketing mix. Thus, the way they plan their marketing strategies and activities are tactical rather than strategical.

There are a number of challenges on why they are not entirely invested in more advanced technology such as machine learning. First, machine learning requires a high amount of resources, meanwhile, they need to fight for the marketing budget between departments to acquire these operational budgets. Another problem comes from managing data. Some of CMOs do not really know what to do with all this data, and how to keep it relevant or update it. Finally, there is a lack of trust and organisational buy-in to these technologies from the head of the company, which is worsening with the internal politics within the company that jeopardise the machine learning adoption in the company.

Simone later asked the CMOs how machine learning could help digital marketing. Most of the directors believe that machine learning can remove human elements, as it can predict customer behaviour more objectively and eliminate human bias. Last, it can also help companies to manage their budget across channels to get the most effective and balanced result between online and offline channels.

The problem in digital marketing at the end of the day is not because of the data, marketing strategy or machine learning. The first problem comes from how to acquire the data because brands require permission from the users to get their data. Later, after the data is collected, it needs to be analysed, which require a significant amount of resources, from specific technology tools to human power capabilities to operate these particular tools. Meanwhile, human bias influences the outcome and quality of the decision due to different opinion, perception and priority, which increase the subjectivity of the decision.

So, the million-dollar question remains: can blockchain become a solution to solve these issues?

The answer is YES, Simon explained how blockchain can be utilised to address this issue and improve digital marketing. Blockchain can bring transparency to the transaction. Second, it removes the middlemen, which can decentralise trust among parties. Further, it can also make it easier for all of the people in the company to make decisions due to the elimination of the asymmetry of information.

Overall, I really enjoy the W4B. It is very eye-opening and insightful for me who is still very 'green' in technological innovation. Most important of all, now I understand the concept of blockchain and how it can be used in a business context or even beyond that.

I really recommend you come to other workshops that related to emerging technology, even if you are not entirely understand about the technology.