Should you rebuild your company’s tech stack in blockchain?

Michelle O'Keeffe

Michelle has been in marketing strategy for nearly 20 years and for the past seven has been CEO of Sydney headquartered digital technology agency, Engaging.io. Working with leading brands, Engaging.io uses human-centred digital strategy, design and development to enhance the customer journey and drive engagement for customers.


The question I get asked most regularly these days is: ‘Do I need to rebuild my company’s systems on Blockchain?’ And the answer, every time, is ‘No, you’re asking the wrong question’.

Ever since cryptocurrency became part of the zeitgeist, blockchain has been talked about, by some at least, as the panacea for business wanting greater security and transparency. However at a recent conference on blockchain, where present were the top tech experts from some of the country’s leading household brands, it was clear to me understanding of this emerging platform is poor. Blockchain as a platform has four distinct positive characteristics:

  • Security – It’s nearly impossible to hack
  • History – The records it contains cannot be altered
  • Transparency – It shows the complete transaction history of a record
  • Speed/cost – Public blockchain networks can negate the need to have a central governing body (but transaction processing time can be slow).

But companies’ systems these days usually consist of most, if not all of the following:

  • Bespoke, or highly customised CRMs
  • Marketing automation systems
  • Accounting software
  • Multiple analytics tools
  • Websites
  • Social platforms

It’s imperative these systems are well integrated and feed information backwards and forwards to each other, most of the time they’re not, and they don’t. And surprisingly enough, the bigger the company, the less likely it is that their systems ‘talk’ effectively to each other. The single most important aspect of these systems is their holistic architecture - in other words, how each of them serve the different objectives and touch points of the company, and how they share information with each other.

Get the system architecture right, and then you just need to ensure you’ve got the right humans powering and analysing them. It doesn’t matter how many millions you’ve spent on your IT, if you don’t have the right people or organisational structure to support those systems - and vice versa - they won’t be effective.

Get the system architecture wrong, and your business will be functioning on two wheels instead of four.

Read more: What blockchain will do to the experience economy

Big companies usually have big legacy systems they’ve invested a lot of time and money into, and whether it’s the right decision or not, they’re reluctant to let them go if they’re not quite working for them. That’s why ‘digital transformation’ specialists can help by mapping future needs and manage the change to get there. Back to blockchain.

As part of an holistic system architecture, blockchain can be an integral component, particularly if you need part of that system to be secure or auditable. But oftentimes, the functionality required around it is better performed by more traditional technology. Investing in blockchain technology because you think you should, or because others are doing it isn’t the right approach to be taking. Instead the best course of action should be getting a consultant to map out the business’ existing systems (and the problems that those systems are supposed to be solving) and work out if the existing systems are, in fact, solving the issues they’re supposed to be solving.

Then have someone put together an ‘optimised’ map and analyse the gaps (these gaps will likely be a combination of technology and people). This is the same process regardless of whether you’re wanting to use blockchain or not. Only then should a decision be made on if blockchain is the right solution for your business.

It may sound like it’s stating the obvious, but it’s clear the mystery surrounding blockchain is causing some, many of whom who should really know better, to rush into adopting this new tech opportunity, when in many cases it simply isn’t the right fit and could be a costly mistake.

Tags: emerging technology, Emerging Technologies, chief digital officer, marketing technology, Blockchain

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