How can technology increase transparency?
We receive an influx of raw data that we can translate into business intelligence and leverage in two ways: to offer total traceability and detect inefficiencies. The transparency movement hits each industry at a different point of pain. For retail trade, fair trade issues arise. For agriculture, it is chemical use and GMO. For the oil industry, it is environmental. Where there is a question mark, there is a set of data waiting to answer.
Transparency Lights Sustainability in a Changing Consumption Climate
This has been a decade of interruption. We teach machinery to talk and transform the code into neurological pathways; we virtualized the currency, making financial institutions obsolete. Sometimes, this has been a decade of deception. The ubiquity of information has dismantled corporate silos, uncovered indirect marketing tactics, questioned morality and inspired a momentous shift in public relations tactics. The same technology that clears the way for public awareness opens the door to deception.
The erosion of privacy is a two-way street. Consumers protect their personal information from the data gap and companies struggle to give consumers the traceability they demand, as the larger institutional distrust has leaked into more mundane decisions. Things as simple as where to buy groceries, whether to keep your Facebook and decide where to get the gas, are not an easy task.
To suggest that there is a Jekyll and Hyde duality for the digital revolution is not an original thought. It is not so much a question of what climate created this storm, but rather, how will we navigate through it? For companies, there is an imperative: dedicate yourself and your brand to be as authentic as possible.
Information on labels, a data grower and defender of clean food, informs that 96% of consumers are more willing to give their business to a brand committed to total transparency, and 73% say that transparency is sufficient to justify distributing more for a product. Yes, maybe being complete and without complexes with your own business tests is a transcendental task, but transparency is the driving force behind sustainability in this climate of consumption. Maybe fifteen years ago, we defined brands by the aptitude of their product line, but those years have already passed, extending the reach of a brand to include almost all aspects of its humanitarian and commercial objectives.
WARNING: Transparency May Require Brief Mountain Climbing Attacks
Oddly enough, the only way business owners can restore privacy is by surrendering. Surrender requires significant brand development initiatives committed to transparency and the creation of personalities, value systems and positivity. The idea here is to create a holistic brand image, a flow of concept to cure, that allows consumers to travel with each product through the supply chain. Consumers want traceability, they want goodness and a fair treatment of all human resources, natural resources and everything that lives and does not live in the middle. Instead of buying an egg carton to support traditional selling points, such as cost or quality, consumers are buying in the free-range aspect, the organic line of local origin, “added value”.
Another fact that you probably know as a business owner: you are running uphill. No matter what you sell or who sells it, sales require you to constantly reiterate its value. The more porous the limits of the company to the critic of the consumer, the steeper the hill becomes.
Next-generation technologies make escalation a much less arduous task, especially when we open these technologies together. We receive an influx of raw data that we can translate into business intelligence and leverage in two ways: to offer total traceability and detect inefficiencies. The transparency movement hits each industry at a different point of pain. For retail trade, fair trade issues arise. For agriculture, it is chemical use and GMO. For the oil industry, it is environmental. Where there is a question mark, there is a set of data waiting to answer.
The Internet of Things and Transparency
The Internet of Things (IoT) is just one of the next generation technologies available to us. IoT works to connect disparate elements and processes, creating a dialogue between machinery, vehicles and other non-computerized structures. By integrating these elements with data collection sensors, business owners forge a network similar to the internet that fights the non-integrated supply chain sequences and navigates through the challenges of origin. The sensors collect intrinsic and extrinsic details related to the environment, other devices within the network and information relevant to the context they forge as a unit.
Transparency flourishes from a coherent and complete story, uniting the complex network of moving parts to understand their role in what we often confuse with simple conveniences: Macintosh apples in the product section, service stations and self-service pumps, a pack of Hanes socks. We can use IoT technology to illustrate these stories in black and white in full color.
The constant data flow dismantles the dissonance that ignited the transparency movement in the first place, while channeling the analysis of the health of the system to the owner of the company. Through big data, brands simultaneously evolve their public image and their internal architecture. If companies can add new data streams on an acceptable lifecycle roadmap, consumers will be more willing to reward them with recurring business and referral opportunities.
Smart sensors do not extract data from the air; they are simply drilling data flows that we did not have before to excavate. These sensors do not have a model that works for everyone, and can appear in a variety of ways: accelerometers, proximity sensors, temperature sensors, smoke sensors, motion detectors, chemical sensors, cameras, GPS, and other times these sensors they are composed, working simultaneously to gather information from any non-intelligent device in which they are integrated.
Blockchain and Transparency
Ah, blockchain . The buzzword of the year. At first, we thought that perhaps Blockchain was exclusive for the monetary exchange, a belt piloted by Bitcoin and perpetuated by a short closure before the change of year. Blockchain as a decentralized ledger for currency transactions is not something we should discount, but this does not mean that we should put all our blockchain eggs in one basket. That would be a waste. Undoubtedly, transaction times are fast and rates are low – the best part of the blockchain technology – the book is waterproof and completely transparent.
The Blockchain technology is a chameleon that continues to acquire new colors and influences the exchange of all kinds. At the root of the transparency movement, there is a call to action: find a way to illustrate the footprint of your business, voluntarily submit your operation to supplier audits, public mockery and social responsibility audiences. The road to consumer loyalty is covered in weeds and wind, full of consumer confidence obstacles. Blockchain covers all these obstacles by automatically preforming a series of checks and balances, and building a system of self-government.
All entries are verified through computer collaboration between the members of the network. Essentially, the members say that “yes, the entrance is what it says it is”, and from there the entrance is executed, recorded in the blockchain as a tattoo. Self-executing transactions deny intermediaries the equation, decreasing the number of hands per entry to fulfill their mission. Blockchain returns autonomy to the sender and receiver, minimizing the extraneous intervention to preserve integrity.
There is a plethora of software solutions at your fingertips, waiting to tell us things we never knew about our workflows and our working conditions. It is very possible that the greatest achievement of the digital era is interconnection. Even though they are just catching fire now, 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 existed for some time. We are just scratching the surface of its interoperability.
Like most collaborative relationships, fusion technologies produce numbers that unique systems could never achieve on their own. And as the brands cross the crossfire of the inescapable interconnectivity to which we are adjusting, the only thing left to do is to fight fire with fire, technology with technology. Open your brand up to distributed ledger technologies to put an end to concerns about traceability, use smart sensors to learn more about the new consumer and fight against the haze that weakens your evolution with transparency.