Block Chain for Market Research

In this article, I am sharing about much talked and hyped technology of recent times, BlockChain technology. How it has changed the Global Financial and Technological Landscape, how it is far different from Crypto Currencies and How can it be used for Market Research, we will see point by point. I would rather like to address the topic by some general questions and arguments revolving around Block Chain technology.

So let’s go ahead.

1) Let's First start with What is Block chain?

Block chain Technology allows digital information to be distributed and not copied and has created a new backbone of the Internet. It was initially used for digital and crypto currencies but Tech community has now founded many potential use of this distruptive Technology.

Blockchain is basically a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed by cluster of computers owned by multiple entities. Each of these blocks of data (Block) is secured and related to each other by cryptographic principles. Hence , Don & Alex Tapscott had stated that , BlockChain is an incorruptible digital ledger of transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but ideally anything of a value.

Block Chain value passing

It is an ingenious way of passing information from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner. It carries not transaction cost. An underlying infrastructure has costs but transaction costs nothing. One Party initiates the transaction process by creating a block. It is verified by millions of computer distirbuted around the net. Finally, verified block is added to the chain which is stored across the net. Hence ideally it is not just added to the chain but it also creates a unique record with unique history. Falsifying a single record would mean falsifying the entire chain in millions of instances. Bitcoin used this method of monetory transaction but it can be deployed in many other ways.

In final words, Blockchain is a decentralized network of computers that securely stores blocks of data. It’s secure, fast and free of control by a central governing body. Thousands of independent computer systems uphold a blockchain network, improving the integrity and security of the data stored on that network.

2) How and when did it come up?

A similar structure like Blockchain was mentioned in a research paper titled “How to Time-Stamp a Digital Document” in 1991 by Haber and Stornetta. As per that paper, a client sends a document to timestamp to a timestamping server and the server would sign the document with the current timestamp. Also, the server would link the document to the previous document. The pointers points to specific data and not the location. So if the data changed, the pointer would become invalid. It ensured no one could tamper the data that had once passed through the server.

According to this paper what needed was a time-stamping of digital documents with the below two properties.

  • Finding a way for automated time-stamping, without any reliance on the characteristics of the medium on which the data appears.
  • It should be impossible to stamp a document with a time and date different from the actual one.

Next and definitely the most important innovation leading to Blockchain was the Bitcoin. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto published a white-paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System”. The paper stated that it had a solution to the double spending problem in digital currency using a P2P network. The aim of the paper was to build a P2P version of digital currency that would enable people to spend it directly without it going in a financial institution. It was a huge innovation that enabled the user to transact directly without relying on a third party.

Around 2014, attention shifted from bitcoin to blockchain. During this time the world realized that Blockchain can be separated from the currency and can be applied to various other use-cases.

3) Which real time problem it is solving? Is Block chain and bit Coin separate?

Initially Block Chain and Bit Coin were thought to be same but they should not be mistaken so. This technology can address sever issues of the society e.g upholding data integrity, cutting cost and reducing delays.

t may disrupt countless industries, including healthcare, real estate and government, in all the best ways.

4) Is Block chain Technology really a future?

More like Dot.Com bubble of the late '90s and early 2000s, more experts believe that these failed initiatives are simply part of the natural "boom and bust" cycle, and blockchain is at the beginning to find its footing. Some concerns over the block chain techonology in the longer run, according to forbes.com as follows,

  1. Widespread Distributed Data Models
  2. Standardization And Collaboration
  3. DLT-Based Government Systems
  4. A Growing Need For Credible Crypto Backing
  5. A Potential Ecosystem Of Specialized Chains
  6. Ultimate Transparency Across Industries
  7. Continued Maturity And Strength Of Blockchain

5) What are Smart contracts?

A smart contract is one that is defined precisely and stored immutably (i.e. it can’t be changed). The terms of the contract can be triggered automatically so that the fulfilment of the contract can’t be reneged on.

Actually, the idea of Smart Contract is older than Block Chain and recently both were co-joined again. It can actually help in sending the money, property, shares and anything of a value in more tranperant , conflict free way while avoiding the services of middle man.

Smart contracts not only define the rules and penalties around an agreement in the same way that a traditional contract does, but also automatically enforce those obligations. It has become of high importance in value chain of Block Chain for triggering the action when the conditions are met.

6) Importantly, Can BlockChain be used for Market Research?

There are several points on which admirer of this technology advocates that , it will distrupt Market Research industry as a whole. I can think of the outlining key ones below.

  • Disrupt the Sampling Industry
  • Making data more accessible
  • Creating a Personal Data Economy
  • Disrupting the contractual basis of Market Research types
  • Friction less Payment and lower-cost Payments

There is a hope that sampling industry will be completely changed by BlockChain. There exits a huge huge amount of waste and friction in the value chain between brands and the consumers.

This technology holds the idea to immensely reduce the number of players and steps between brands and respondants. It might take few more years but access panel model will be more or less replaced by blockchain based market places where customers , researchers and brands can connect and exchange rewards and insights freely.

One of the major challenge to the blockchains producing distruption is limited overlap with the key problems that market research report buyers are trying to point at. According to newmr.org, following are the points needed to work with Block Chain Technology.

  • Faster and cheaper researcher: It could be delievered by centralized and standardised research which is something that does not require Block Chain. It can be used but not a requirement.
  • Integrated Data : It is actionable because of describing data using semantic web. BlockChain is a method of storing and accessing data, but it does not address the variations in the data.
  • Better Research: It might sound like like all in one term but it covers things like surveys that employ non-conscious techniques, shorter surveys, mobile friendly approaches, better project design, better analysis , more consulting, larger sample pools etc.

These improvements will largely rest on centralising and standardising research, in conjunction with advances in AI, improvement in Data Analytics and better story telling and all these won't be impacted by Block Chain.

7) So, Is Block Chain not relevant?

Not necessarily. Just because the version of blockchain invented in 2008 has limited scope in market research, does not mean that Blockchain 3.0 won’t be quite useful. Accounting, public records, and the storing of an individual’s data all look interesting prospects. Cryptocurrencies might have a future – the weaknesses and limitations of Bitcoin do not mean that some future (perhaps Government or bank-backed) system might not be really useful.

8) But wait, Is blockchain technology overhyped?

As per sourcetoday.com and Deloitte , A new Deloitte survey finds that 44% of U.S. companies think blockchain is overhyped and not living up to its potential, but others feel differently. Globally 39% feel it’s overhyped, and nationally that number rises to 44% (up from 34% in a 2016 Deloitte survey).

<74% of the companies that Deloitte surveyed do see a compelling business case for the use of blockchain technology. Still, just 34% are actually making moves in that direction.

33% companies believe that their RoI (return on investment) in Block Chain Technology remains uncertain. But despite all these reluctance from the companies, some experts believes in potential of technology.

Gartner predicts that business add-value of blockchain will grow to $ 176 billion by 2025 and will increase further.

9) How will BlockChain change the way we conduct marketing research? 

According to Quirks.com, It will have huge impact but it will take few years to become part of our daily lives.

There will be predominantly, three areas where we'll see great impact from this technology. First would be access to validated respondent profiles and past study history made available as a method to shorten surveys nad weed out bad factors.

Second could be the adoption of Crypto Currencies as a way to pay respondents for their insights. And main would be BlockChain applications that will allow us to link various respondent data sources together and exchange data from various platforms in secure manner.

10) Will BlockChain affect Qualitative Research?

Quirks.com believes that there will be Qualitative impact but will reflect later than Quantitative impact. As per the speed of Digital Platforms, Quantitative factors got few decads of head start on digitizing its processes because of the transactional nature of the business. Some insiders believes that block chain is promising but it is too young. It is still in its infancy. As of the moment, it can only process a maximum of eight transaction per second where as existing systems can process ~80K. In order to be effective, it requires that many user use it. Setting up the frameworks may take time but rewards will be immense to the business and to the customer.

So hopefully by the end of the year 2019 or next year start, we would be definately seeing the implementation and impact of private and public block chain in the industry and the society as well the way trust and transparency is improved for doing business.

More is Yet to come !!