Jason Aiken is the Senior Product Manager at Quark Enterprise Solutions. At Quark, his main focus is to evangelize the Quark Enterprise product suite to facilitate its adoption in target markets. To do so, he synthesizes input from customers, partners, and internal parties to help define high-value priorities, while balancing industry trends and emerging technologies. Because of his growth-minded role at Quark, and his expertise in the high tech space, I chose to pick his brain on how blockchain is, and will, continue to disrupt and change markets. We discussed how it will effect the content industry, which is what Quark currently serves, as well as the general impact it will have. Below is a summary of his thoughts:
Molly: Could blockchain disrupt our market (content automation software) in the future?
Jason: Our own market of content life cycle management certainly requires detailed tracking and auditing, but often doesn’t typically require the full level of distributed, peer-reviewed security which blockchain delivers. Our financial services customers may be interested in this area soon, so it’s worth watching but not our highest priority.
Molly: How do you think blockchain will impact business in general?
Jason: Blockchain is massively in the hype cycle right now, with Bitcoin being the most common implementation. From a business perspective, peer-reviewed, cryptographic-supported provenance of financial transactions is very attractive from a compliance perspective but blockchain-based innovations must resolve concerns around scalability and privacy, both of which are doable. The largest business impact in my mind has to do with financial transactions involving complex asset ownership and regulatory reporting requirements. Smart contracts could benefit from innovations in this space, so this is very possibly going to disrupt the market for our financial services customers.
Molly: How rapidly and effectively will small to mid-sized businesses understand the benefits of blockchain and adopt the technology?
Jason: That will vary, but I personally don’t see that happening anywhere near the level of hype for another few years. It may take 5 years before this moves from hype, to academic/experimental implementation, to major breakthrough. I can see some small to mid-size vendors trying to ride the hype wave with some hacky implementation in hopes of winning the attention of the right large-size bank who has invested in exploring the area from a risk management perspective. Like many other tech buzz cycles, it really comes down to leveraging the technology with a robust solution that solves major pain.
Molly: How can small to mid-size businesses like Quark use blockchain to gain a competitive advantage?
Jason: Quark is very focused on modern industry developments that have significant value for our customers. We have lots of opportunity in other, more relevant areas for our targeted verticals. Unless something changes, there appears to be very little business value in us escalating blockchain to a priority level at this time. We continue to focus on eye-popping game changers that matter to our customers now, and none of them relate to blockchain.
Further, I was interested in gaining his perspective on Big Data and how Marketing and IT can work together to create some ‘data-magic’.
Molly: How can Marketing and IT work together to leverage Big Data?
Jason: Departments working together better requires a cultural shift for many organizations. A culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration can often identify quick wins that fit within reasonable budgets and timeframes for anything, not just Big Data. Meaningful, lasting changes can’t be grassroots-driven alone, but must also be driven by the highest levels of leadership. This often takes persuasion through multiple internal selling and business case discussions. Closer to Big Data, Linked Open Data may provide near real-time trend reports which could be useful to marketing teams to accelerate intelligent insights on major business decisions or help with adding the trending keywords to content (there’s also simple tools like Right Tag). Any business intelligence gathered by one team can and should be shared with other teams/leadership to enhance data-driven decisions in sales, product/services development, customer support, and other departments. IT teams can help by responding to business needs and finding best-fit solutions. For Big Data, this may mean one enterprise dashboard or analytics-supported search engine with integration into the multiple applications often used in any organization. This gets us back to where we started, because it often requires significant budget and investment, which requires insight and buy-in from the leadership and the grassroots. Both are needed because otherwise adoption won’t happen.
Molly: What’s the difference between a ‘Big Data’ and ‘Lots of Data’ problem?
Jason: Volume. Everyone has lots of data these days, but Big Data is massive and growing exponentially thanks to trends like IoT, cheap data storage, and cloud everywhere. It’s important to pay attention to scalability problems brought about by data growth in concert with increases in disruption, requirements, and market expectations. This requires businesses to think ahead about data problems they may create for themselves because they don’t rise above business-as-usual to recognize the value of proactive change. Nobody likes it when change happens to them or when lots of data becomes a big data problem. Being a laggard can suddenly be very expensive or painful to manage. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible for any organization to keep up with all the emerging trends so business insight enhanced by modern tools which can reduce the chaos can also help organizations pivot better. A keynote at KMWorld 2017 used the analogy of a kayaker in whitewater, which is quite apt.
As you can see, I’m learning from the best in my work-life, too. In terms of blockchain, I think we can all agree that it has the potential to be disruptive, but that it will take some time to get to a major breakthrough. Big Data is here, and organizations have to learn to work together to use it to it’s full potential. A big thanks to Jason for taking the time to unload some of his knowledge and expertise! Until next time…