IDC have published a brief back in May with some insights into the impact of Web3 on enterprise technology organizations. The report itself is a paid-product, though if your company has an IDC subscription I suspect it's available: IDC TechBrief: Web3, Doc #US49035522.
The summary is great, as it has quite a few key points... one though, jumped out at me:
While NFTs gained publicity through the exorbitant prices they gained as digital art (i.e., "Bored Ape Yacht Club"), their effectiveness as secure, immutable, and non-fungible stores of information and value was unquestionably demonstrated.
I'm struggling with just this communications problem -- the second I say "NFT" people think "the hype of digital art and collectibles" and not "the utility of NFTs, that may in-fact be free".
Pete Huang at Coinbase describes NFTs in a way I absolutely love...
NFTs are a common file format for culture
NFTs as Community Secret Handshakes
The thing that's clear to me, and us here at BCware, is that NFTs represent something important. Let me try at least to articulate my chain of thought to help you see what I see, at least directionally. I am, surprisingly because in my personal life I'm very black-and-white, I am able to operate in an abstract environment. Specifically, if I have an abstract or not-so-clearly defined destination in mind, I am able to move things forward with confidence while the target gets more fully defined.
Think about "our data" and the (false) trope that "Facebook sells our data" and that the "user should own their own data". (Judging Facebook's business is outside the scope of this thought, please.)
One of the things about Web3 is that the user themself owns their data. This is done because it's associated with their digital identity, represented (at least in part) by a wallet address.
A quick explanation... the identity of your users has evolved in three phases:
- Create an account, that account info is owned by the site owner
- Login with an existing identity (login with Apple, or Facebook, or Google), the account info is mediated by BigTech
- Login with wallet (or ENS), the account info is managed by the user
As phase 3 progresses, users' wallets will contain "tokens" that represent relationships with the sites or companies with which they do business. Let me say this again. The company won't only have a list of users, but the user will have a list of companies/brands (in their wallet).
The simplest "but why?" is it aligns to the trend of the user owning their own data.
But wait, there's more.
One of the reasons I love how Pete explains NFTs is that it's interoperable, which allows companies to know you better, and align to their community's values.
Making the World Better
Let me give you an example that we used in a brainstorm the other day.
Companies often support charitable causes. However, other than in the most broad way, those causes are disconnected from their humans (the causes that their customers and employees care about).
That's OK. It's good to do good, right?
Yes, and it's better to do more good. A more specific association between your human's values and your corporate activities would bring you closer.
Imagine, without having to ask, do surveys, etc... imagine if I participated in a carbon offset DAO, and earned an NFT to represent my participation. That NFT is in my wallet. I login to my airline, they see I'm pro-planet, and they decide to allocate a share of their giving to offset the carbon footprint from my upcoming trip in alignment to my values.
This is clearly a "value to me" and I'm going to support this airline because we have shared values. This is what it means to build community, instead of transactional customers.
Back to IDC and the Enterprise
Enterprises need to prepare for Web3 according to IDC.
NFTs are more than hyped collectibles according to Coinbase.
IDC suggests that companies:
- Inventory your systems that might connect into or influence your Web3 activities
- Pay attention, the next 12-24 months are critical
- Lay a foundation
Wouldn't you know it? BCware provides that foundation.
Here's the key point I'd like you to understand, having read this far:
No matter how big you are, and how much influence you have over your customers, they're going to show up with their own preferences for cryptocurrency, blockchain, and wallet.
And you're going to have to support it.
We're in a participatory economy, one that's an extension of the trend from companies defining our technology choices, to consumers defining them.
If you're an airline, a bank, a hotel, or an entertainment company you're going to have to go find the your customers in the communities they're already participating in. And you're going to have to balance that with the innovation you can bring to bear on the value you're trying to deliver.
By helping companies, and their developers, deploy on any blockchain (for example), BCware helps lay a foundation to experiment on whatever chain suits their immediate needs... but not be limited by that early choice as the market evolves.
The same goes for Web3 infrastructure. Want to start with NFTs? Use IPFS. But we all know that IPFS has some limitations. We can plug-in Arweave, Storj, and others so that as your use cases evolve, you aren't limited by the technology decisions you've made early in the experimental phase of your projects.
It's not only about making development simpler or reducing time to market anymore. It's about reaching and connecting with your audience on whatever chain and wallet they're already using AND as your use cases evolve being able to adapt to the technology that best meets new requirements.
By the way, this is the philosophy we've put into production with our NFT app for Shopify merchants. It's how we support Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, and Flow on the first release (with Avalanche in beta). If you'd like to see the app, reach out and we'll hop on a zoom and I'll personally give you a demo and talk you through the architecture of how we accomplish this.