Web3 could restore power to the people


Web3 is a decentralized, blockchain-based version of the internet. Experts predict that it will undermine the dominance of big tech by giving users more control over which services they access. As such, it could completely revolutionize how businesses operate.

So, what should leaders know about Web3?

1. Web3 could restore “Power to the People”

“Web3 has the potential to create a more user-centric iteration of the internet,” says Steven Van Belleghem, a thought leader, speaker and author on customer experience. “Consumers could regain complete ownership and control of their data and choose if and when information about them can be shared, or used, by advertisers, marketers or researchers.”

Van Belleghem says that Web3 could not only have a huge impact on consumers’ privacy and security, it could potentially grant them full control over personalization and mean they even receive money for the use of their information.

“Because this data model is much more transparent, marketing efforts will be forced to become more ethical,” he says, “with consumers able to track their data and even examine the source code of the platforms they decide to use, to only engage with brands they truly trust.”

2. Web3 could change the way we communicate with each other (perhaps)

“One of the promises of Web 3.0 is that users can communicate without third-party involvement,” says Dr Dennis Khoo, a digital transformation expert, keynote speaker and author of Driving Digital Transformation.

Nevertheless, he points out that while it is technically possible to use blockchain and decentralized computing to store and exchange information without centralized third-party governance, many unanswered questions remain.

“Who would build and maintain the apps in such a scenario?” queries Khoo. “Who would moderate content? Left unchecked, could it degenerate into an unsafe web, infested with hate speech?”

3. Web3 could transform the infrastructure that all business runs on

“Blockchain technology enables the representation and recording of ownership,” says Dr Joerg Ruetschi, a transformational technology specialist, chief operating officer at software developer Cosaic and author of Transforming Financial Institutions.

“There is lots of talk about cryptocurrencies facilitating payments for goods and services, non-fungible tokens providing efficient digital ownerships of different assets, or stablecoins allowing the exchange of money or precious metals,” Ruetschi explains. “The key implication for commercial models is that these technologies put consumers at the centre of the ownership and control over their personal data, so they become less dependent on the global federation of large corporations that control their access to services and products.”

Ruetschi believes that decentralized finance (DeFi) will reshape today’s commercial and operational infrastructure that provide the base for the ascent of Web3. “Both movements will succeed or fail together,” he says. “The uncertainty remains high and there are several challenges. Similar to the establishment of the internet in the 1990s, it will take many years to play out.”

4. Web3’s impact could go beyond ‘tech’ companies

Web 2.0 (the current state of the internet, which emphasizes user-generated content) opened the floodgates for individuals to benefit from e-commerce, social media and search engines.

“It also empowered a handful of tech companies to collect, and monetize, data from millions of individuals,” says Mohan Subramaniam, professor of strategy and digital transformation at IMD Business School in Lausanne and author of The Future of Competitive Strategy: Unleashing the Power of Data and Digital Ecosystems.

Subramaniam points out that it is not just these large digital platforms that are monetizing data, however. “Because of the proliferation of sensors and the Internet of Things, all kinds of non-tech legacy firms are on the same bandwagon,” he says. “They, too, are developing similar abilities to track and pool data from millions of assets and product users and trying to profit from this data revolution.”

With data now perhaps the world’s most valuable resource, Subramaniam believes that Web3 has to counter the powerful forces rallying around the flow of data. He says that for Web3 to really work, leaders and larger corporations must be able to use the environment to “envision, create and orchestrate value”.

5. Web3 could be just another disruption for leaders to navigate

“Most people have to modernize to stay relevant, adapting and keeping up to date with the latest code or ways of working as industries change rapidly,” says Lyndsey Jones, a digital transformation specialist and lead author of Going Digital. “Web3 is no different.”

Jones believes that business leaders who succeed in this environment “will be largely those who have emotional intelligence and a growth mindset, where they are constantly learning, keeping an eye on what is changing and being choiceful about what to be involved with”.

Successful people develop mastery by making choices around what to focus on, according to Jones. “They don’t try to learn all the new things all the time, and focus on every new trend. But they do maximize the opportunity to transfer skills and see how something that they learnt before could be reusable.”