Mary Keane Dawson: Blockchain Week and what I learned from it

Mary Keane-Dawson, co-founder and CEO of The Truth Agency, is a one of the most well-known figures in the UK digital media scene. She has worked with an impressive mix of companies, including Redwood Publishing, SPAFAX (now part of WPP), Steak (now part of Dentsu), Reform Collective London and Trade Doubler’s incubator The Zoo Project. Most recently she held the position of UK managing director with Neo@Ogilvy.

In addition to driving the development of Truth, Mary is a non-executive director and executive coach working with the likes of BIMA, The Smalls and Tech London Advocates. She is also the founder of How She Made It.

blockchain

What a week!

I've just returned from being amongst the 8,500+ people milling around the four stories of the New York Hilton Midtown for Consensus CoinDesk Expo - With hundred’s of talks, panels, workshops as well as literally '000's of networking opportunities, alongside the Dancing girls, Bronies, Live Karaoke Sessions, Geekdom Preachers, Crypto Kitties and opportunities to hear the wisdom from, and shake the hands of, the Founders of Litecoin, Rippl, Ledger, CoinDesk et al as well as hear from the Federal Reserve. the Securities and Exchange Commission, Deloitte, Barclays, Santander and their take what the future of regulation, business, individual freedoms and tokens, all powered by Blockchain - Did I Learn a lot? Hell, I sure did!

Before attending, if I had even a sliver of doubt about the future of Blockchain and its relevance to, and impact on, our society, then they would have been obliterated by what I saw, heard and experienced. The people I met, the intelligence I encountered, the passion I experienced and the education I received all showed me that American business is open to Blockchain, open to a new world order where trust and openness are verifyable and people are empowered.

Contrast this with my experience of the attitudes and thinking of the MediaPost Blockchain Media Panel at which I spoke later in the week. The panels attitude was sadly typical of many old school media businesses who see too much change as too much of a challenge. I’m more than happy to let them stick their fingers in their ears and sing la-la-la to themselves, all day long, but with 75% of businesses (and basically that means ‘clients’) saying that they see the future of their business processes utilizing Blockchain technology, this part of the industry runs the risk of being left on the platform, whilst the block-train leaves the station.

That’s also a lesson much of the UK adtech scene could learn from. At a couple of the recent panels I’ve been asked to be a part of, I’ve been ‘mansplained’ to (and why is it always men?) about why blockchain is too slow, too expensive, too unwieldy and too complicated to be utilized in modern media buying. All myths, all part of a lazy narrative and all expressed by those with too much riding on the status quo being maintained.

We are living in super exciting times, where talent and technology combine to build a better world, where the distributed ledger delivers verified transparency, and new protocols are being designed and built that add genuine value to society. Personal identity and data protection are becoming increasingly important to us all. Consensus reconfirmed to me that our mission at Truth is on the money and that blockchain is at the forefront of building a better media industry.

I'm filled with hope for a better business future, a fairer society and for the empowered citizen. I just hope that everybody else wants to get on board. Being left behind could be an expensive mistake.

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