At best, marketers see the finance department as strategic allies, looking to structure the most successful plan for the business. However, all too often, marketers don’t provide finance teams with the insight or the control to deliver on this promise, fearful that finance simply wants to cut budget or squeeze vendors.
Determining what to do with new blockchain technologies will likely bring finance and marketing together. Duke University’s recent CMO survey estimates that marketers who think blockchain is very important will more than double in the next few years. With added scrutiny on digital marketing spending, many marketers are searching for dramatic improvements in performance for lower cost and need a level of financial expertise in navigating new options, even if they are afraid of what that might mean to for the status quo.
Help Where It’s Needed
A talk with the CIO and the CMO to determine what opportunities the CMO cares about, and what risks the CIO is concerned about can help the finance team understand what to focus on. Rather than wait until the marketing team sets up a meeting with a new blockchain startup, finance teams can start a conversation early about where there might be the most need for blockchain technology, and also identify potential roadblocks.
Enforcing contract rules, tying payments to actions, streamlining complexity, increasing transparency — each of these benefits of blockchain should be weighed internally before anyone is dazzled during a demo. For every positive of a new technology, there are old systems, privacy rules, firewalls and other hurdles that finance can start to prep for and upgrade.
For example, most blockchain payment technologies require new forms of payments, like crypto currency. Finance teams can get started investigating how this kind of technology actually interacts with current billing and payment processes inside the company today. It will be important to understand from a new vendor if a payment is always made at the time of a transaction, or if the finance team can dictate the right time to pay based on contract terms, how a crypto currency interacts with cash in an account, and even how to invoice.
Finance and Account…ability
Blockchain marketing and advertising startups vary widely in their solutions, but one thing all of them will do is offer more accountability. ShipChain and FR8 are revolutionizing the information available to supply chain managers and truck drivers. This type of accountability is also coming to marketing, where messages move instead of products.
Marketers are often both excited and wary about more accountability. While they want to spend budgets more wisely and ensure that campaign goals are met, they don’t want to be subject to extra scrutiny, or be judged for past mistakes. As a result, blockchain offerings can be intimidating. This is another primary example of how finance teams can become strategic partners with marketing as they investigate blockchain solutions as long as they focus on positive outcomes.
Blockchain reporting adds transparency that can help identify waste or fraud. A “smart contract” would make it easier for a marketer to see if an agency or other partner actually did what they said they did. These accountability elements of blockchain could benefit the company, but marketing will only embrace them as long as they can feel comfortable that finance has their back. Better to focus on the potential improvements than the sins of the past.
Blockchain innovations are already popping up in marketing today. One blockchain startup, INK Lab, helps creatives retain rights and earn fair payments for their work through smart contracts. Finance needs to determine how to account for and pay for each activity through this new technology. In some cases even working with IT to gain approval for new ways to transfer payments or authenticate someone’s identity. Waiting to gain expertise simply puts finance on its back foot. By offering strategic expertise, finance ensures that marketers make the most of a new technology in line with company profitability, privacy and strategy.