We receive an influx of raw data that we can translate into business intelligence and leverage in two ways: to offer total traceability and to pinpoint inefficiencies. The transparency movement hits every industry at a different pain point. For retail, questions of fair trade arise. For agriculture, it is chemical use and GMOs. For the oil industry, it is environmental. Where there is a question mark, there is a dataset waiting to answer.
Transparency Ignites Sustainability in a Changing Consumer Climate
This has been a decade of disruption. We taught machinery to speak and transformed code into neurological pathways; we virtualized coinage, rendering financial institutions obsolete. At times, this has been a decade of deception. The ubiquity of information has dismantled corporate silos, unveiled backhanded marketing ploys, bringing morality into question and inspiring a momentous shift in public relations tactics. The same technology that clears the way for public awareness, opens the door for deceit.
The erosion of privacy is a two-way street. Consumers shield their personal information from data breach and corporations scramble to give consumers the traceability they demand since larger institutional distrust has trickled down into more mundane decision-making. Things as simple as where to buy groceries, whether to keep your Facebook, and deciding where to get gas, are no easy task.
Suggesting there is a Jekyll and Hyde duality to the digital revolution is no original thought. It is not so much a question of what weather created this storm, but more so, how will we sail through it? For businesses, there is one imperative: dedicate yourself and your brand to being as authentic as possible.
Label Insights, a data cultivator and clean eats advocate, reports that 96% of consumers are more willing to give their business to a brand committed to total transparency, and 73% say transparency is enough to justify dishing out more for a product. Yes, maybe being completely and unapologetically forthcoming with proprietary business ordeals is a momentous undertaking, but transparency is the driving force behind sustainability in this consumer climate. Maybe fifteen years ago, we defined brands by the aptitude of their product line, but those years have since passed, widening the scope of a brand to include nearly every aspect of their humanitarian and business objectives.
Here’s where we’re going if you want to jump ahead:
WARNING: Transparency May Require Brief Bouts of Mountain-Climbing
Oddly enough, the only way for business owners to restore privacy is by surrendering. Surrender requires significant brand development initiatives committed to transparency and building personalities, value systems, and positivity. The idea here is to create a holistic brand image, a concept-to-curation flow, allowing consumers to travel with each product through the supply chain. Consumers want traceability, they want goodness, and fair treatment of all human resources, natural resources, and everything living and non-living in between. Rather than purchasing a carton of eggs in support of the traditional selling points like cost or quality, consumers are buying into the free-range aspect, the locally sourced byline, the organic label—“value-adds.”
Another fact you probably know as a business owner: you are running uphill. It does not matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling it to, sales requires you to constantly reiterate your worth. The more porous company boundaries became to consumer criticism, the steeper the hill becomes.
Next generation technologies make mountain-climbing a far less arduous task, especially when we open these technologies up to one another. We receive an influx of raw data that we can translate into business intelligence and leverage in two ways: to offer total traceability and to pinpoint inefficiencies. The transparency movement hits every industry at a different pain point. For retail, questions of fair trade arise. For agriculture, it is chemical use and GMOs. For the oil industry, it is environmental. Where there is a question mark, there is a dataset waiting to answer.
The Internet of Things and Transparency
The Internet of Things (IoT) is just one of the next generation technologies there for our disposal. IoT works to connect disparate items and processes, creating dialogue between machinery, vehicles, and other non-computerized structures. In embedding these items with data-collecting sensors, business owners forge an internet-like network that combats non-integrated supply chain sequences, and navigates through provenance challenges. The sensors collect both intrinsic and extrinsic details related to the surroundings, other devices within the network, and information relevant to the context they forge as a unit.
Transparency blooms from a consistent and thorough storyline, bringing the complex network of moving parts together to understand their role in what we often mistake for simple amenities—Macintosh apples in the produce section, gas stations and self-serve pumps, a pack of Hanes socks. We can use IoT technology to illustrate these black and white stories in full-color.
Constant data flow dismantles the dissonance that ignited the transparency movement in the first place, while funneling system-health analytics to the business owner. Through big data, brands simultaneously evolve their public image and internal architecture. If businesses can aggregate new data streams into a palatable life cycle roadmap, consumers will be more willing to reward them with repeat business and referral opportunities.
Smart sensors are not pulling data from thin air; they are simply drilling into data streams we had no means of excavating before. These sensors have no one-size-fits-all model, and they can appear in a variety of forms—accelerometers, proximity sensors, temperature sensors, smoke sensors, motion detectors, chemical sensors, cameras, GPS—and other times these sensors are compounded, working simultaneously to collect information from whatever non-smart device they are embedded within.
Blockchain and Transparency
Ah, blockchain. The buzzword of the year. At first we thought maybe blockchain was exclusive to monetary exchange, a tether piloted by Bitcoin and perpetuated by short bull run before the turn of the year. Blockchain as a decentralized ledger for currency transactions is not something we should discount, but this is not to say we should be putting all our blockchain eggs in one basket. That would be a waste. Sure, transaction times are fast and the fees are low—the best part about blockchain technology, though—the ledger is impermeable and completely transparent.
Blockchain technology is a chameleon that keeps taking on new colors, influencing exchange of all kind. At the root of the transparency movement, is a call to action: find a way to illustrate your business footprint, willingly subject your operation to supplier audits, public ridicule, and social responsibility hearings. The path to consumer loyalty is overgrown and windy, littered with consumer trust obstacles. Blockchain paves over those obstacles all together by automatically preforming a series of checks and balances, and building a self-governing system.
All entries are verified through a computational collaboration between network members. Essentially, there members are saying, “yes, the entry is what it says it is,” and from there the entry is executes, etched into the blockchain like a tattoo. Self-executing transactions negate intermediaries from the equation, decreasing the number of hands each entry passes through to accomplish its mission. Blockchain returns autonomy to the sender and the receiver, minimizing extraneous intervention to preserve integrity.
There’s a plethora of software solutions at our fingertips, waiting to tell us things we never knew about our workflows and our working conditions. Quite possibly the greatest achievement of the digital age is interlinkage. Even though they are just now catching fire, things like IoT, blockchain, AI, and Robotic Process Automation are not new feats. They may still be in their infancy, in terms of their potential, but these things have been around for some time. We are just now scratching the surface of their interoperability.
Just like most collaborative relationships, fusion technologies yield numbers singular systems could never arrive at on their own. And as brands catch crossfire from the inescapable interconnectivity we are adjusting to, the only thing left to do is fight fire with fire, technology with technology. Open your brand up to distributed ledger technologies to put an end to traceability concerns, use smart sensors to learn more about the new consumer, and fight the nebulosity debilitating your evolution with transparency.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.
- See more at: www.chetu.com/blogs