Digital transformation Innovation Operations

How Blockchain Technology is Already Shaping the Future of Business

In this episode

As a leader, it’s critical to think ahead, especially when it comes to technology. Digital disruption provides an array of challenges but also offers many unique opportunities across almost all industries. Blockchain technology — while initially associated with bitcoin and cryptocurrency — has the potential to be applied to databases and information management across many sectors, but what exactly does that mean and how will that affect leaders and their organizations moving into the future?

During this podcast episode hosted by Bryan Benjamin, Executive Director of the Ivey Academy, we’re joined by guests: Hubert Pun, Associate Professor of Management Science at Ivey Business School; and Carrie Song, Executive Vice President at ViewFin™, Ivey EMBA ‘23 Candidate. In this discussion, we unpack the basics of blockchain technology, explore how this technology can transform organizations on a global scale, and examine real-world examples of how blockchain is providing new opportunities for organizations to reach consumers.

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Full Podcast Episode Transcription:

CARRIE SONG: Blockchain cannot be tempered or changed or revised. Once the information is there, it will be stored online and publicized to the entire network.


SEAN ACKLIN GRANT: Welcome to the Ivey Academy Presents Leadership in Practice, where we discuss critical issues in business, unpack new research and talk to industry leaders about the latest trends. The Ivey Academy and Ivey Business School are located on the traditional lands of the Anishinabek, Haudenosaunee, Lunaapéewak, and Chonnonton nations. This land continues to be home to diverse Indigenous peoples whom we recognize as contemporary stewards of the land and vital contributors of our society.

Leaders always need to think ahead, especially when it comes to technology. Digital disruption presents challenges, but also offers unique opportunities across every industry and sector. Blockchain technology, while mainly associated with cryptocurrency, has the potential to be applied much more broadly to information management and transaction in our digital world. But how will that affect organizations?

In this episode of Leadership in Practice, we're joined by Hubert Pun, associate professor of management science at Ivey Business School. And Carrie Song, Ivey MBA 2023 candidate and executive vice president at ViewFin. Our guests unpack the basics of blockchain and give real world examples where blockchain is providing new opportunities for businesses to reach customers on a global scale. This episode is hosted by BRYAN Benjamin, executive director of the Ivey Academy. Let's get into it.


BRYAN BENJAMIN: We're got a leadership lens through all of this. It's critical to be thinking ahead, especially when it comes to technology. So digital disruption is a significant challenge. We hear this day in and day out right now. But it's also a unique opportunity for most organizations and industries. So Hubert, my question to you to get us started is, as a leader, why should I keep digital transformation and disruption top of mind?

HUBERT PUN: Well, so basically being a leader, you have to think ahead. So you can imagine that blockbuster is getting eliminated by Netflix around 2020. At 2010, bookstore, Barnes & Noble, it get like threatened by Amazon as well. So therefore being a leader, you need to think ahead what will happen in the next five to 10 years, and then act accordingly. So my job is to educate you to let you know that what can blockchain be done, and then so that you can think ahead and get ready for the future.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Thank you. Thank you for that. I find-- and we'll dig in a little bit further as we go through our time here today. Thinking five and 10 years out used to be a little easier, I find now. Even five months out, the world is changing so rapidly. So I'd love to hear more about how we're going to be able to do that and anticipate what's coming.

Carrie, let's hear a little from you. So you've built a business in a rapidly, interesting time, right? Lots going on, lots changing in a very sort of emerging field, if you will. How would you recommend that leaders keep themselves current on digital disruption and new trends, based on your experience?

CARRIE SONG: Thank you, BRYAN. There are several ways for leaders that can keep themselves current on digital disruptive technology or new trends. Now the first suggestion I would have is attending those conferences and events. And conferences, events are focused on the digital disruptions in emerging technologies, a great way for leaders to stay updated.

And the second would be follow the publications and blogs, that for certain industries, for example, the CoinDesk would be a platform that for you to understand the blockchain tech knowledge. And join some online communities that would be another way of learn the communities and most updated technology as well. And also connected the thought leaders. I spend the whole summer and played golf with the AI CEOs, and this is also a great way of learning.

Experiments some of the new technologies if the industries or the companies that you're working in and encouraging that this kind of environment. I would highly suggest the leaders take the lead of the project and spearhead it for some of the projects because you would be supported by the company. And that is a very safe environment to just give trial and error in a small scope.

And also stay connected with the wider industries. So you're not only limited to your own industries, but also include to the industries that it is a relatively new. And your industry might be benefiting from that new technology, would be another suggestion. Obviously there would be other way of joining professional or alumni organizations that will provide you opportunity as a learning.

Again, this is ongoing process. I would encourage all the leaders, give yourself opportunities to expose to the new technologies in different ways. If we don't have the talents in organization, they'd be able to update you monthly or weekly for what's going on in the industry. We still have different channels to learn for those kind of new technologies. That's my suggestion.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Amazing. Thank you. Many suggestions within that suggestion. And what I particularly liked was some free and fairly easy to access options around sort of online communities. I'd love to dig in a little bit more as we go through, to maybe have some recommendations because there is so much out there, kind of are few areas sort of emerging to the top. Through to more significant investments around conferences or different groups and associations.

But I really like the idea of don't feel that you need to stick within the industry that you're in. Potentially you're going to change industries over time or blockchain technology maybe isn't as prevalent in your industry today, but it could very well be in the future. So there's lots of new learning opportunities there.

So let's go back to you, Hubert. Could you tell us what blockchain technology is in a very sort of simple and easy way to understand? And how it differs from a typical centralized database. We'll also ask you a little bit more about why it's important for a business. But let's get the understanding done first.

HUBERT PUN: So let me give you a brief overview about what is blockchain. So basically blockchain is a chain of block. You can imagine that a block can be any content. A video, a file or a photo.

First, let's say I create a block. And that you, BRYAN, create a block. And inside of that block you point to me as the first block. And then Carrie create a third block, and pop whatever information that can relate to point. And applying to you as well. So that is a chain of block in the old days.

Usually we talk about a centralized database. What is a centralized database? I'm a professor. You can imagine that I have an Excel file and the Excel file consists of all the grade of the students. I am the only one that can access and make changes to the file.

However, you can imagine another situation. Now that let's say Rotman, Ivey, Quinn's MBA program, they like to join forces. For recruitment then, who would be responsible for the database? There's no centralized person to be responsible. So that is where blockchain coming in. So the blockchain would be distributed and decentralized.

Distributed, that means there are multiple copies. Decentralized, that means different people can make changes to different copies as well. And basically that helps to solve the problem of the trust. So basically in the past, so that if there's a centralized database, as a professor or the student trust me. So I am the central figure.

However, as I mentioned, like a joint force between a different piece of school, then there is no central figure. So at that point, so that we have the blockchain since that is distributed and decentralized, that makes sure that no one can make changes without other people noticing the change. That makes the database to be permanent and immutable. So therefore the keyword that we are looking at is that blockchain solve the issue of trust.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Can I just jump in super quick? For I think the benefit of a few in the audience, how do you define a block? Like what is an actual block?

HUBERT PUN: Sure. A block can be any type of information. So then I put inside, let's say a file or a video, that would be what I like to have on my end. And then I pass to someone else, to yourself. And then you put whatever information that you like to put onto the block.

So therefore a block can be anything. And then achieve, that means your block have a signal that point to my block. So therefore I'm block number one, you are block number two. While Carrie has a block that points to you, BRYAN. So therefore that defined Carrie to be block number three.

So therefore that is a chain of block. And that this chain of block have multiple copies distributed. And then anyone can make like an upload to the information. Once people uploaded the information, all the blocks get propagated to everyone.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: OK, thank you. I'll let you continue on.

HUBERT PUN: OK, sure. Like us all right now, so let me provide some interesting example that is happening in real life. Bitcoin. Obviously that will be the first one, is a cryptocurrency.

So you can imagine that in the past, so then if you make any digital transaction that is through the bank, so I make a purchase through like my credit card. So then TD Bank, my bank, actually make some like a record to this transaction. But Bitcoin, actually there's no centralized database. So at the point, so that everyone have a copy about what everything is going on with that being said, with the encryption, so then every information is anonymous. So you know something is going on but you don't know like who make those transactions.

Another example would be Walmart food traceability. So basically, people like to know where their food is coming from. So that Walmart have done is that well it trace the entire supply chain, all the way to the farmer, to the distributor, to the wholesaler, to the retailer. So therefore when you use your QR code with a smartphone, then you know the entire supply chain.

And another example about like the traceability. In Hong Kong, there is a diamond firm called Chow Tai Fook. What they have done is to use blockchain to record the entire supply chain of the diamond that eliminate the problem of blood diamond, which is the diamond that is coming from the military fund. The third type of sample would be also food traceability, but then connecting yourself to the farmer.

Starbucks. Starbucks, what they have done is that now they have a traceability. Blockchain power traceability. So if you like to know where your coffee bean is coming from, then you swipe the QR code then where the coffee is coming from.

And then there are other from IBM, Accenture, Mastercard. What they have done is to allow you to tip the farmer. So let's say, well, I appreciate the farmer to farm the coffee bean. In the past, you don't know who is the farmer. But right now, all you have to do is that on your cell phone and then just to send a tip. And the tip get directly transferred to the customer.

Not all the example is like successful. Some of the example does not lead to a happy ending. Let me give you an example. Well, like there is a partnership between a shipping company giant, Maersk, and also IBM. The original intention is to eliminate pay per transaction between the customer, between different shipping company.

Well, the platform is called TradeLens. Unfortunately, this platform actually stopped functioning in November 30 last year. So that is some of the example of a blockchain.



BRYAN BENJAMIN: Another topic that is very closely connected, that we're hearing about all the time, NFTs and cryptocurrency. Sort of the digital currency. And a lot of that, talked early on about Bitcoin, but it's certainly evolved and gone much broader over the last while. So Carrie, what are the benefits of using blockchain technology and how can it help to improve sort of business operations. And we'll dig in a little bit to this whole NFT crypto space as we start to go through this.

CARRIE SONG: All right. Just want to conclude what Professor Paul just mentioned about there are five main characteristics about blockchain technology. The first is it's decentralized. So decentralization gives that there will be no centralized unit to control over the information.

So that is one. And it protects all the datas and also prevent the cyber attacks. So this is one of the, I think, advantages or benefits of blockchain technology. The second would be immutability, which is blockchain cannot be tempered or changed or revised. Once the information is there, it will be stored online and publicized to the entire network.

So every one of us can go online and see the transactions, it's posted there. With the technology, it is not be able to do that. All the transactions has been posted online. So all of us can go online and see, especially when the NFT implications of proving of ownership that has been recorded online and you can go online. So there's no way you can delete it but you can add information to the transactions. So that's also help us to understand and build a trust between the parties.

The fourth would be it's executed between the smart contracts. So meaning that it is a self-executing actions which doesn't give us a lot of way to change or take it back. So it is also in good applications, for example as Professor Pun mentioned about the supply chain management and also asset escort. That is real life use cases we've seen. And it's more faster and more efficient, giving us perfect example about cross-border money transferring in today.

And we still have a lot of challenges facing for between the banks, cross-border transferring funds. There are so many opportunities for the risk involved and also to improve as well. So overall, for any of the industries that-- as we mentioned before, it involves supply chain management, it involves the financial transactions and the money transfers, and also digital identity and KYCs. And also asset tracking and proof of asset ownership. And also voting for the governance systems. They will also benefiting from the blockchain technology.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Terrific, thank you. In terms of-- let's continue to sort of move forward, maybe-- you talked in our briefing call around examples around how blockchain technology is sort of reinventing the way that we used to do things. One that struck with me was sort of land transfers and sort of no longer needing to go to a lawyer's office as you're buying or selling property. Are there examples that you think the audience would resonate with, that again, will sort of help us better understand how this often sort of nebulous piece of amazing technology can help us in our day to day lives?

HUBERT PUN: Well, I can start off with an example. And then I'll let Carrie to continue. So then--


HUBERT PUN: Yeah, sure. Like you can think about as a supply chain financing. So then in the past, like so let's say if that is a tier three or tier four supplier, that needs to have some cash or need to have some capital to continue the business. Well, like at that time, so then like-- so it needs to prove that that serving the manufacturer. So that therefore sometimes it is just a little bit difficult for them to get their cash.

Another example is that let's say if like a tier three supplier have deliver something to tier two. It usually takes a few weeks for them to receive the payment. While you can imagine that what would happen if during the few weeks, they need to pay the worker, pay the rent and sort of at that time. So they may risk to have a bankruptcy.

So if that is actually the case, then if the tier three have problem, that costs problem to tier two, tier one and so on and so forth. Well, I got one thing with the smart contract that Carrie mentioned, that is built on top of the blockchain. So that right now if a tier three supplier provide a component to tier two, then all they have to do is to swipe the QR code at the time. It automatically trigger the payments.

So therefore rather than waiting for a few weeks, now the tier three supplier can receive the payments within like a half an hour or an hour. That dramatically increase the efficiency of the transaction within the supply chain. So Carrie, what else do you think?

CARRIE SONG: Well, supply chain management is always a challenge for, I think a lot of industries, such as delivery, anything involved with the manufacturing. I think one of the improvement that with using the blockchain technology is that there will be on-time verifications at the spot instead of going back to use a centralized resources center, for example, that usually hosted as a server somewhere to haul the information in order to verify. But with decentralized format, you can get the confirmation right away. In some situations, when we wanted to confirm the authenticity of the product, this is a sort of information would be managed, it'd be decentralized in a more efficient way.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: You know, I'm hearing some common themes around-- I hear speed, I hear security, I hear transparency. And I think in this age where things are moving so fast and leaders are being challenged to do more and to do more quickly, anything that supports speed, security, transparency, I think will become more and more prevalent.

I'd love to sort of start to dig in here around NFTs and cryptocurrencies. So I'll throw it open to either panelist. And you decide who wants to jump in and maybe you both want to comment. Just maybe a quick level set on what exactly an NFT is.

HUBERT PUN: So you can imagine that this thing can be physical versus digital. There's a fungible and also non-fungible. So basically fungible, that means like is mass production, everything is the same, while non-fungible, that means things are different.

So let me give you an example, cash or casino chips. So let's say I have $10. You have to $5. Basically, my $10 is equivalent to your two $5. Everything looks the same in the digital realm.

So let's say Bitcoin or even AMI. So you have some AMI, you do have some AMI. So both are digital and they're basically, my AMI is the same as your AMI. Everything is like the same. Non-fungible. That actually means that we are unique.

So for example I have a house, you have a house. But then your house is different from my house. I have a Canadian passport, you also have a Canadian passport. However, your passport is different from my passport. That will be on the physical side.

While on the digital side, for those of you who like to play video game. So then a lot of time, you can use money to purchase a video game screen. So let's say you purchase a video game skin that is really suitable to your taste while I purchase something that is suitable to my taste. They are both video game skin, however, they are actually different things. So blockchain is the technology, underlying technology that allowed everything to run. While NFT is one of the possibility or one of the applications.

CARRIE SONG: I just want to give a quick overview about, from the business side, how we view NFT and what, as a business or executives, we will be benefiting from the new innovations. NFT is a unit of data that use-- it's saved on the digital ledger which is called a blockchain. And also it cannot be copied, tampered or subdivided. And it is sort of like a certificate. The purpose of that is to prove of ownership and also authenticity.

So this is basically the NFTs. And it can be a product relate to one NFT token. And then it proves that the ownership is you. So this technology has been, in the real use cases, if we can look at the digital art, one of the people's 5,000 days. And it's recently auctioned in Christie for $69 million.

So this is the new, I think, innovation. And also biggest market that we can imagine in the future will grow into. Today, NFT market is about $100 billion markets. So this is one of the use cases.

And the other is in-game assets. Now I understand a lot of us think, I'm not a game players. How that's going to be relevant to my life? Yes, it will be because what the kids like today was games and the young adults will become something mainstream in the future.

So in-game assets and also in-game lens that will be worth-- I wouldn't say equivalent what today is a physical assets, but eventually will be at least I think half of the assets worth, which is today. One of the examples I will give to everyone is if you have a spare time, you can do some research for Decentraland, also Sandbox. There's a little pixel in the game. It is identified as the land. So you can purchase the land and also sell them, just like you do in the real world.

Now just think about timeshare today. Now one of the challenges, I think a lot of complaints I heard is once I bought my timeshare, I can't sell it. But if we tokenize the timeshares, the assets of timeshare can be exchanged hands easily with the token has been invented. The other is because we sold our NFT businesses.

So I understand one of the challenges in the real world is that we always had starving artists, but it doesn't necessarily to be that way because there is a need in between, is the collectors and an artist. If there's a bridge up to bridging two of them and make sure that the creation has been compensated and also the collectors will have the exposure to different arts and in a very free market. And this will help the both sides.



HUBERT PUN: I'll also like to bring up the example on the NFT as well. Like in the fashion industry, Nike actually purchased a virtual shoe company. And the name of the company is called RTFKT, R, T, F, K, T. And basically they are getting ready for the metaverse.

Another example, H&M. So H&M recently launched the first ever virtual fashion collection. So therefore that would be another interesting application of NFT to the fashion industry.

While in the sport industry, NBA Top Shot. So for those of you who like Michael Jordan, LeBron James. So when I was young, I get like a Michael Jordan basketball card with him dunking. OK, well right now nowadays, you can actually get LeBron James dunking video. So rather than like a baseball card or basketball card, now you get a video, which is the NBA Top Shot. That is working right now as well.

So those are some of the interesting example that is happening right now. Blockchain technology that trick people to discuss about a digital currency. OK, digital currency. So rather than using cash, credit card, now can we use a digital currency?

Well, like earlier last year in China, it is already work in production. So basically people in China, they can buy or sell things using digital currency that is issued by the central bank. While like a Canadian bank is also discussing actively about what we can do in order to have a digital currency as well. So you can think about that like a rather than having a lot of friction between credit card transaction or maybe like a cash friction. So if everything can be conducted in a digital manner, that would make the friction much smaller. So that will be a tremendous impact for you as a financial manager because what digital currency can do to your business to eliminate some of the friction.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Thank you for that. Carrie, I think you hit on something really important around connection and that starving artist example. Is just expanding the possibilities for individuals to reach and connect with new audiences that they otherwise wouldn't have seen. We know leaders are operating in a global context now more than ever. Whether they are in a local, a national or even a global. But more so unpacking local, national businesses, there's a global context, whether it's a supply piece, whether it's a customer piece, whether it's an awareness and adoption of technology piece.

And Hubert, thank you for some of those additional examples. I think the more we can hear about organizations and what they're doing, and the Nike example is great. I'm sort of-- my head is expanding here because I'm just grappling with the world that I can actually touch and see and feel. And now we've got this whole other sort of metaverse world around us as well. But again, leaders need to continue to understand what's coming and adapt and learn. And thank you, again, for being able to bring some sort of light to that.

HUBERT PUN: Basically my punch line is that like, well you have to be aware of your digital presence in the future. Like metaverse is something that people are discussing and then being a leader, you have to think ahead. Nike, what they are doing is that they try to position themselves such that like one day, if people like to purchase a virtual Nike shoes, so therefore they would be ready to go.

So for your organization, can you imagine there is a digital presence? Can that be done if that is the case? You have to think ahead with the NFT and also blockchain.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: I've had this question and I've seen it come up. Why should I trust blockchain?

HUBERT PUN: So in the past, so let's say if two people that they do not know one another. If they like to do business, so then they need some kind of central person that everyone can trust. Let's say a lawyer, let's say a bank, let's say a government official. Right now we have the blockchain.

So basically the challenge is that like, well, like now I conduct a business to you. How can I trust you? Well if everything is written in a pen rather than in pencil. Pen. Then if something get changed, that everyone would know what has been changed.

So therefore that actually enable the trust. Because if you and I are conducting business, and that if we have a contract such that it automatically triggered the payments, there's no way that you can take back your word. So then that enable the trust. So therefore one key word of a blockchain is that it solved the trust situation. And Carrie, would like to add more on this?

CARRIE SONG: Even internet with the popularity of today. And we still have people saying, I don't trust the internet. I still buy things in the physical stores. But e-commerce on the other hand, is also developing so fast. It is a free country and that everyone can choose what they believe in.

And some people believe for federal reserve, and as some people believe online shopping. And obviously blockchain is a new technology and it takes time to gain its popularity in the normal life.

For example for futures, implications that we haven't even know about it. But again, this is the trend, it's happening. And it will covers our life from different aspects of it. You can choose not to believe any of it or it will happen just around us and there's no way to stop it.

HUBERT PUN: I also like to quickly address, as a telecom, as an IT companies, so what can be done to help the businesses? More like us, so if the leader are being forward-looking, they are thinking about the digital presence. So at that point, they may or may not have the expertise to conduct such kind of digital presence.

So therefore at that time, so if you are IT expert, if you are on the telecom industry, you would see the demand coming from the traditional, like a firm. Let's say Nike or H&M. So therefore that will be a way that can help the businesses. Because how you can help your client to build a digital presence.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Thank you again, both, for pushing our thinking. Carrie, you hit it well when you sort of said it's coming. You can either sort of get ready and learn or realize that it's actually here. And leaders need to continue to push themselves outside of their comfort zone.

But I get texts from my kids all the time asking for money to be able to buy, whether it's a virtual shoe or a skin for a game I don't fully understand. So there's companies that are taking full advantage. And I think the age is not just teenagers and young adults. It's going to be creeping up and up so that there's a market for almost everything if you look further and wider.

HUBERT PUN: Yeah, so I also like to chip in as well. So that like, so my kid in elementary school, high school have already talked about NFT. So any time if you hear that like some key word that is popping up from your kid or from your friend, that means that is turning, is a turning point. So like right now, I would acknowledge that this is still like-- well, it's a new industry.

However, that would be high risk, high reward. Being a leader, are you willing to take the risk now that people are talking about that? Well or do you want to be a follower? Wait for 10 years, wait for the technology to be mature. And then at the time you may become a follower. So therefore that would be the risk appetite.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: For sure. That makes a lot of practical sense. We've heard a lot of private sector. The question is, where does government sit in this? And are there examples of how government is exploring this or discussing this technology and how it could benefit them that either of you are aware of?

HUBERT PUN: So as I mentioned earlier, crypto, like digital currency. OK, digital currency. And that the backbone of the digital currency that is on the blockchain. So that is something that people are talking about.

Another example. Well, like your health, like a record. In the old times, if you like to go from one hospital to the other hospital, basically it's really difficult to transfer your health record from one place to the other place with the blockchain. So that will be immutable, that will be permanent. So that facilitate or transfer of the record much faster.

Or even COVID passport. Like your vaccine passport. So some countries already using the vaccine passport. That, like the underlying technology, once again, is blockchain. So all those are some of the application by the government.

CARRIE SONG: I'm glad to be asked this question. And recently, I have some thoughts on the government, the position of the government and how the government plays a role in this new innovation. And there are two, I think crucial topics I want to talk about it. The first one is very important for the implication side, which is how government is going to benefiting from this new innovations.

Obviously what we mentioned before, digital identities and the KYC. I think a lot of the government jobs can be secured by this new technology. I'm not going to expand that a little bit more. But just imagine that everyone born with a birth certificate in a hospital has all the patient's information. That would be very benefiting for information stored securely.

And also you know it is not forged identity or the identity can be checked in a very secure way. I've seen that question pop up and then someone says, you know, how am I going to protect in my privacies? Actually the blockchain technology can provide you with the securities. That there are two layers. And one is the authenticity that can be checked. And the second is the data has been stored securely.

This already being talked about it. And then there's a technology workaround for that, answer that question. The second layer of the government role I want to talk about is that with the decentralized autonomous organizations came out of-- into the new pictures, I think the government will be more and more, a different government. Because we are talking about there are many governments in the world and we're not dealing with the governments in US and the government in Canada, government can be in China. So the government will be in a position of competing with each other for businesses.

Giving myself as example, for example 2017. What happened is when ViewFin first was in China and we have office about 150 people. So as a new technology company is quite sizable company. And all of a sudden there's a new legislation came out. And exchange that back then was we had, and forced to be closed.

And that triggers me, came to Canada and started with ViewFin in Canada. Later we have a new invention and we sold to the company. But when I received the tax bill from Revenue Canada, it shocked me of course.

But imagine that kind of tax can be collected in the Government of China, revenue of China, but they lost the opportunity and it forced the business out of the countries in which Canadian government now is benefiting from it. So I think the government also would have opportunity to view whether or not, what kind of businesses the opportunities or opportunities for the business owners to establish their businesses in their own countries. That is also a question and a topic for different governments to review that as well.

I think that will be a trend in the future that we're facing different challenges, is that the companies are more decentralized nowadays. And I had companies for all the blockchain technologies and employees all over the world. And I have architects located in France, I have developers in the US. I have employees working in China. So how the taxation will be introduced into the system as well.

This is also a big challenge. I think even Coinbase today, they have employees all over the world. They can work from home and in different places of the world. And this is a topic, I think, it hasn't been sorted out. And it takes time to make sure that all governments will learn from the experience.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Thank you for that example. And it's interesting to sort of see what could be potentially coming. But also hearing what's actually already underway that maybe we don't quite know about. But there's certainly seems like there's going to be countless opportunities for public sector to benefit from these technologies as well.

Hubert, how fast is fast? So things are moving at a really, really rapid pace here. Where is it going and how soon am I going to be using these technologies? And how soon will this be even more prevalent than it may be today?

HUBERT PUN: But I'd like to have a quick compare and contrast between internet and also blockchain. So basically internet, it started around the 1970s and then in the early days of the internet application. So then like those are something that we can do things faster and cheaper. Let's say CNET or Amazon bookstore at that time, there's already a physical, like a newspaper and also physical bookstore. But then with the CNET and also let's say Amazon bookstore, so people just can't do things much faster.

However, after a few years, now they are the most successful company. They are selling data, selling yourself. Facebook, Google. You can obtain the product for free but then you are the product itself. So then if you try to explain what Facebook, how Facebook and Google can make money to people like 30 years ago, they just cannot imagine about that. Blockchain. So that blockchain, what it's trying to solve is the problem of the transaction.

So in the beginning, people are doing Bitcoin. Like I saw that is like, just like a physical coin, but then Bitcoin for traceability. Like so that can be done in the physical world as well. But then at the future.

It may be 10 or 15 years from now, people can think of something that just like Facebook, Google, that is completely different. That people in this generation cannot imagine. And I can predict that that will be not coming from us but most likely coming from our kids.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: I could see that for sure. Carrie, your thoughts on how fast is fast and how quick is this going to be becoming more mainstream?

CARRIE SONG: I think it's taking some time for this technology to be mature. And there's a few technical, I think challenges, for people in the industry to solve. Just as Professor Pun mentioned, it takes 20 to 30 years to be mature for this technology. In some sectors, however, would be a little bit earlier than the other.

So for the sectors or industries such as financial institutions and investment funds, that will be a little bit early adopted. I think the most likely to happen about investment portfolio, investing to a certain percentage in cryptocurrencies, that will happen very soon. And in other sectors, for example FMCG as I mentioned it, and especially with industries, they're involved physical goods. And they are not needing the supply chain management intensively. And it will be a little bit slower adopter than the other industries. That's what I can see.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: What I hear though is it's coming. And in some cases it's here. Other cases, it might be down the road but it's moving. So as a leader, what do I really need to be paying attention to when it comes to sort of digital transformation, some of these new technologies, blockchain, NFTs. Like if you could give a couple of really tangible pieces. Because there's so much, I can't pay attention to it all, but what do you think I should pay attention to?

HUBERT PUN: Well, like I can start off. So basically, being a leader, you need to learn as much as you can. And then trying to have some kind of a brainstorming session to see what would happen if this-- like if this particular technology impact my company? So therefore, that would be a learning process, a lifelong process that you have to think ahead. What would be happening five years from now? That would be my quick answer. Carrie?

CARRIE SONG: The other question I would probably ask myself as executives is that how you customers think about whether or not this is going to be benefiting from them. And as I mentioned earlier, there are virtual realities, which is the metaverse is coming soon so that this is the newer generations, they are paying attention to the virtual world and also ESG. And how as a business leader, I would be able to incorporate that concept into what is existing business that I'm being operating. I think that will be something very important.

And the second, I would urge all the business leaders to-- you are sitting on the goldmine. Basically you have to address that today you would never imagine in the future that you would have. Why I'm saying that?

Because the web 3.0 is coming. And the concept of Web 3.0 is that each of us we are owning our own information. So the information would not be free to disclose this to others for the traditional business or the traditional internet companies.

And what I try to say is that right now, at this point of time, you still possess a lot of information, which is free to you or you will be having that information that you be able to understand your customers' behavior, understand the characteristics of the behaviors. And you can get a lot of information from that and prioritize your information, your data. And make sure that has been linked to your business. And then this is some advice I will give it to all the executives who has opportunity to have that kind of information.

BRYAN BENJAMIN: Thank you for pushing out the client and the customer. It's so critical. So my organization may be not necessarily further down the path as some of my clients or customers. So I've got to be able to learn from them. Data is power, I hear a lot about that. And the more data I have that I can trust, will help make, or help me make more informed decisions.

So as leaders, we need to push ourselves to get comfortable to learn, to not be afraid to ask questions, to be able to find new ways, to be able, as Dr. Pun mentioned, to imagine where my organization could be in five years. Use these examples that you've heard today with other organizations and even other industries to sort of say, hey, maybe this is something that's going to be beneficial for my organization. Or maybe it's something that's going to be coming to my clients that I need to be on top of.

And I think the underlying piece that I heard through all of this is talk to teenagers. I think there's a lot we can learn from teenagers about the metaverse, about digital, about assets that I can't actually necessarily put my arms around but are still incredibly valuable.


SEAN ACKLIN GRANT: Thank you for tuning in to leadership and practice. We'd like to thank our guests, Hubert Pun and Carrie Song. Leadership in Practice is produced by Melissa Welsh, Joanna Shepherd and me, Sean Acklin Grant. Editing and audio mix by Carol Eugene Park.

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