December 1, 2020
Today, product managers across all industry sectors are looking to harness the power of blockchain to create real value for both their teams and customers. Blockchain, which underpins Bitcoin and most cryptocurrencies, is being used to govern and record human or machine interactions such as sending money from one person to another, or recording the votes for an upcoming election by mail ballot.
Given its high degree of security and transparency, this technology will prove to be a key investment area for businesses as we move into a post-pandemic world. This new bitcoin era, however, has left many leaders both confused and excited, and has created widespread disagreement over which qualities are essential in order to call something a blockchain.
What are cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin? What is the difference between the cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks that businesses are developing that we read about in the news? And as a product manager, how do you know when there is an opportunity to leverage these technologies to drive growth within your customer or employee experience? These are three important questions asked at Bottle Rocket, so we decided to provide our current best answers below.
The Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Puzzle Breakdown
Before thinking about ways to incorporate blockchain and cryptocurrencies into the customer or employee experience, businesses need to understand the puzzle that is blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and how they are supposed to fit together.
The main difference between Bitcoin and business blockchain is the degree to which the network is decentralized (how much human interaction exists within the network), and the types of transactions being recorded. Bitcoin is a fully decentralized network, which means there is no human interaction when sending Bitcoin from one person to another. Most business blockchains are not fully decentralized and require some human interaction to complete the transaction, such as the manual review of a voting ballot before being confirmed to the ledger.
“Blockchain can mean different things to different types of companies. For big companies, it is about making existing markets more efficient & transparent. For small & medium sized companies, collaboration enables them to punch above their weight and launch exciting new last mile like products and services. But, it is at the start up level that digital innovation burns the brightest, creating a new digital economy to transform whole industries on top of this new quality and ownership, or access of data.” — Andy Martin, Blockchain Business Value Design World Wide Leader — IBM
The Relationship Between Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies & Your Customer or Employee Experience
Their utility as an alternative payment option is often better understood and can already be found embedded in most customer experiences. It’s more a question of whether it makes good business sense to offer Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency as a payment option. Consumers typically prefer choice and any customer who uses this channel could result in the avoidance of credit card transaction fees by the business, driving higher profit margins.
Turning to the other side of the same coin, the relationship isn’t as intuitively obvious. Most of this stems from the fact that these are business focused networks that don’t get much visibility by the public. The experience in this instance is typically a web or mobile app used by your employees. This employee experience is a window into the blockchain and its available functions. The quality and ease-of-use of this employee experience will be the main driver of adoption.
The relationship between the customers/employees and blockchain/cryptocurrencies, however, will be largely derived by the design and the user experience of the web and/or mobile application used to interact with it. If businesses want to drive adoption using blockchain and cryptocurrencies, they must make the experience so easy-to-use, that it is intuitively understood by even the most casual observer.
In order to do this, leaders will need to cultivate a strong understanding of their customer base, their current behaviors, expectations, goals, and assumptions. Indeed, bad design, navigation, and user experience are the main barriers that have prevented adoption growth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It simply isn’t easy to use for most people and thus does not get used as much as it could be.
When to Leverage Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies to Drive Experience Growth
Whether or not it makes sense to invest in blockchain and/or cryptocurrencies to drive growth, depends largely on the benefits that would be gained from automated decision and governance processes and the level of interest from your future customer/employee base. Below are three common areas to consider when evaluating your customer or employee experience for opportunities to drive growth through blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
- Cross B2B silo collaboration (reconciliation, provenance or a visibility issue) (Source — Andy Martin, IBM)
- Data that needs to be shared is too valuable to let a 3rd party govern on your behalf (Source — Andy Martin, IBM)
- Customer interest supports additional payment options
As a product manager, it is important to consistently take the pulse of the businesses decision and governance model taking place inside your business right now. An easy way to do this is to simply write down every decision made internally and externally with third parties. Once this list has been made, evaluate each decision using a multidimensional lens that includes the amount of time to complete each decision and the amount of friction it causes (none, low, medium, high).
Once this is complete, filter the list so that the decisions with the highest level of friction and that take the most time to complete on average are on top and proceed in descending order down the list. These are the areas that represent your best opportunities to drive growth through blockchain and cryptocurrencies. For the highest-ranked items, do a cost-benefit analysist to see if a blockchain solution could help expedite these processes internally. This will then help you build out your strategy, create your service blueprint, and get you to launch in real time. Like everything else, you’ll want to continuously monitor, evolve, and grow.
Product managers and product growth SMEs should keep a consistent pulse on their governance models and perform regular reviews to determine when it makes sense to leverage this technology.
Article by Tim Duncan, Product Growth Practice Lead and Deb Gelman, Senior Vice President of Experience Design at Bottle Rocket