When I first read that Microsoft was making it easier to develop, test, and deploy blockchain applications on Azure, I was excited. Here is this new, transformational technology being made more accessible. Immediately, however, I realized that applications and services using blockchain faced some of the same pitfalls of cloud services, at least where sales were concerned.
So, let’s look at two problems currently facing bringing new blockchain-powered services and applications to market.
Focusing on how blockchain works
For a while “blockchain” was synonymous with “Bitcoin”—a completely new type of currency. But, of course, people are hesitant to invest in something they understand little about (or at least, they should be), and the blockchain can be a concept which is difficult to understand at first.
So, it makes sense that we have seen countless articles and videos focusing solely on explaining this new, mysterious technology. People want to understand it like they think they understand their “everyday” money. But, the fact is, “traditional money” is rather complicated—people don’t understand that either.
We need to remember:
- People don’t need to understand how money works to successfully use it—they need to understand what goods and services it can get them.
- The blockchain is much bigger than Bitcoin, or even cryptocurrency in general.
As you develop new blockchain-based services for potential customers, you need to seriously think about effectively communicating the “why” of the blockchain.
We saw some of these same problems when cloud services entered the scene. Companies errantly focused (and often still do) on the how of cloud computing, rather than focusing on the problems it could solve for potential customers.
As you develop new blockchain-based services for potential customers, you need to seriously think about effectively communicating the why of the blockchain—why is a given application enhanced by this technology? What are the business challenges facing your target customers, and how can the decentralized smart contracts of blockchain solve these problems?
People don’t need to understand the mathematics behind RSA encryption to know that they want the security it gives. If you don’t believe me, try explaining that math to anyone who says they like encryption. (Wait, you don’t understand it either?)
Using blockchain as behind-the-scenes fundamental technology
I was recently told by someone that we need to “get people using the blockchain without them even knowing it.” This idea is great for the general proliferation of this technology, and is even better for individuals who invested early in Ethereum.
The problem is, this doesn’t help you differentiate your service which benefits from this technology. We want people to know it is there, behind the scenes, making your product better than other options.
Don’t sweep the use of blockchain under the rug. Capitalize on the product differentiation inherent to use of any new technology.
Right now, you are at an exciting place—by simply offering users smart contracts, or the use of distributed ledgers, you are differentiating your service. There isn’t enough competition in this space to have to differentiate much past that (… yet). When you’re a cloud service provider running off the same Microsoft stack as your competitors, differentiation becomes much more difficult—you must focus on differentiating based on things such as your support. (No, that is not an invitation to be lax on your customer support!)
Focus on the fraud reduction, the security, the immutability of the technology. Focus on the increased performance that a distributed ledger gives to business operations. Better yet, take time to find out your customers’ specific operational needs, and address those directly.
But, whatever you do, don’t sweep the use of blockchain under the rug. Capitalize on the product differentiation inherent to use of any new technology.
Are you thinking about bringing a new blockchain-based service to market?
Are you thinking about bringing a new blockchain-based service to market? Contact us, and we’ll work together to make sure that you get the message right. The answer is already in the room, we’ll just help bring it to the surface.