Episode #47: 2021 Predictions — The Surprising Rise of Cryptocurrency

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a bold look forward. Let’s dust off the Magic 8 Ball and see what’s ahead of us for 2021. Today I look at Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Is this a fad that will go the way of pet rocks and the Macarena? Or is it time for marketers to begin to look at cryptocurrency as the future of online payments? It’s “Prediction Week” on the CXM Experience.

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Welcome to the CXM Experience, where experience is the new brand. I’m the CXO at Sprinklr. My name is Grad Conn. And you know what’s great about working at Sprinklr is that this is a company that really knows how to put experience in CXM. And every day, I work with customers around the world, who are creating amazing experiences for their customers, leveraging the power of Sprinklr’s ability to listen to what people are saying about products and experiences, to learn by using the world’s most advanced AI system to really get a handle on what people are saying. And then to be able to allow people to take action right away, so you can love your customers back. And that’s why we say at Sprinklr it’s all about loving your customers.

So it’s that really cool week, my favorite week, I think of the year, which is that week, just between Christmas and New Years. And you know, Christmas is wonderful. And we’ve had some great shows about Christmas. And you’ve heard some of my memories there. I had another spectacular year of amazing memories this year. I’m not going to go into it right now. But we’ll talk about that over the coming months. But it was really marvelous in so many different ways. I can’t even describe it, but great days. And then those days right around New Year’s are also really nice. New Year’s Eve is always a lot of fun. We’re gonna be doing something with friends this year, in a socially distance Zoom way, but still sharing the same champagnes and the same foods. And the same show. We’re going to be seeing Pink Martini, actually. They’re doing a great show on New Year’s Eve, so subscribe to that. You can do that on OurConcerts.live. Pink Martini. I think it’s something like good riddance to 2020, hello 2021.

But this is just a wonderful week, because it’s a week where pretty much work is pretty light. You know, it’s a good week to catch up. It’s good to organize. I often actually went in the office this week, over many years where I would use it to get set for the New Year, set goals and objectives. This year, I’m doing some similar things, but more on a personal level. It’s a really great time for reflection for thinking about what’s happened and what’s coming.

And it’s a really great time for predictions. Yeah. Yeah, predictions for the new year. There’s a great Yogi Berra saying, which is, the future is really hard to predict, because it hasn’t happened yet. That’s one of my favorites… the future is hard to predict because it hasn’t happened yet. But I am going to start making some predictions. So the shows for the rest of this week, as we wind into the new year will be a series of prediction shows.

Now, this custom actually… obviously, there’s many types of predictions that occur. But a show that’s been really influential to me over many, many decades, I guess at this point is the McLaughlin Group, which was a show founded by John McLaughlin, back in the mid 80s. I’ve seen, not every episode, but I’ve seen it consistently since that time. So I’ve been watching it consistently since the mid 80s. And there were periods of time maybe where I didn’t watch it as much. I don’t know why, you know, you just kind of get off the rhythm, but watched it very consistently through John’s death a few years ago. It’s been brought back to life, a couple of shots at it. And I think now it’s on Maryland public television and doing quite well.

The new host is Tom Rogan, who was a disciple of John McLaughlin’s and it regularly features every week Eleanor Clift, Pat Buchanan and Clarence Page and then they always have a guest. And they’ve had some excellent guests over the last year so I’ve been really enjoying that. And I think Tom’s doing a fabulous job. Tt’s been a pretty tricky because they’re all doing it from their homes now. I will say like, every once in a while I think Eleanor, Pat, clean up your rooms. Like what are you doing? I mean, it looks like… don’t have anyone to help them clean or organize a few files or like shove those boxes out of the camera or something. I mean, come on, make it look like you’re trying. But anyway, the commentary is great, and it’s wonderful to see them I guess, in their natural environment.

That show has had some incredible people on it over the years. You know, Mort Zuckerman who’s actually a Canadian, Mort Zuckerman was on it for a very long time and even in some of the newer incarnations with Tom Rogan. Great contrarian, great, incisive thought thinker. In terms of the economy. Very famously, in the early days, Jack Germond, who’s kind of that classic, crusty, old newspaper person. He actually got into a feud with John McLaughlin and left the show and never reconciled. Jack died many years before John, but they never reconciled and Jack felt that the show was demeaning to journalism. And John thought that Jack was being mean. Mort Kondracke, he was on for many, many years. Fred Barnes if you remember Fred Barnes. Robert Novak, has been there. Chris Matthews has been on the show. Mark Shields,  even Tucker Carlson, David Frum, Lawrence O’Donnell, people like that have been on. Arianna Huffington has made a few appearances on the show, and, and so on, and so on.

And so, let me talk a little bit what they do. So every year, what I love about the McLaughlin Group is that John McLaughlin, from the time he started the show, and literally until his death, he never missed a week. He did the show every single Friday, his whole life. And his last show, he actually recorded an introduction to the show from his hospital bed. He’d had cancer for a couple years, he recorded from his hospital bed, and then died a few days later. And then the show just stopped completely at that point. But what was amazing, in the last year, especially you can see that John was quite sick. And you can see IVs in his hands and all sorts of things. And he just kept plowing ahead and kept doing the show and he was famous for: the correct answer is and you know, it was kind of the first show to really introduce a lot of the confrontational journalism that we see today. And interestingly, John McLaughlin was minister, so he came from a debating style that came from that ecumenical sort of strain.

So every year, John will do a series of shows near the end of the year, and the last two are usually predictions for the following year. And they’ll make political predictions. So I’m not going to make political predictions. I think I’ll predict that Joe Biden will become sworn in as next president United States. So that feels like a pretty safe bet, although not 100%. I think it’s a pretty safe bet. And I’ll predict political obscurity for a few others like Mike Pence will move on to political obscurity. But that’s probably enough politics for now.

And we’re going to go into marketing predictions. So what are my predictions for 2021? I’m going to start first in what I think is going to be an interesting marketing prediction, which is, I say that 2021 will see the beginnings of the true legitimization of Bitcoin. And I think we still have many years to go, and there’s a lot left to be desired in terms of Bitcoin. But we’re going to start to see some of the major trading desks and banks getting into bitcoin. And the amount of money that’s been dumped by Feds across all the western democracies in particular, is going to cause a weakening of the dollars reserve status, and a weakening of the overall value of general currencies. And Bitcoin, because it’s restricted to a certain number of units, potentially has the ability to become the new reserve currency of the world. That’s not gonna happen for a while, but that’s a move that will start in 2021.

What that means is that you’re going to start to see Bitcoin being accepted as a currency by merchants, or you’re going to see customers wanting to use it as a currency with merchants. There are already some merchants online who only take crypto. Think about that. Right now, today, there are people who are running businesses on the internet, and they run them only on crypto. So that’s going to keep happening. And so as a marketer, how are you thinking about how you incorporate cryptocurrencies into your buying and purchase patterns? Right now, it’s just taking credit cards and using the typical Shopify interfaces. What’s gonna be the your crypto interface to be able to transact with customers who may have a fairly significant amount of cryptocurrency on hand, and they want to buy some of your goods.

I think this would be particularly important in the luxury goods space, where LMVH was going to need to think about this across their brands, especially the brands because those are often seen as goods that people want to buy with crypto because sometimes crypto is seen is almost free money. So this is my chance to get that car, that purse, that pen, that whatever. And so thinking about how to take those currencies and how to trust them, I think will be really important. The trust around Bitcoin is a bit of a dodgy proposition. There is a very interesting company out there named Chainalysis. And Chainalysis has actually worked really closely with a lot of governments and some of the banks to create trust in Bitcoin… but retail merchants are not part of their zone right now, but it feels like that could totally be part of it.

What’s interesting about Chainalysis is that the thing they talk about with Bitcoin and blockchain, the blockchain contains the record of the transactions. However, the blockchain record is not all of the issues around the transaction. The blockchain records the transaction occurred, but doesn’t include the metadata around who and where and from. And Chainalysis collects that information in addition, in real time. So Chainalysis has essentially a secondary Bitcoin blockchain metadata stream that allows them to be able to show where transaction went and where they came from. And it gives them a fairly interesting look at the universe. So companies like that should become quite interesting. Companies in that space will become quite interesting.

And then you at the same time are seeing this great movement by all the platforms, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, but particularly Facebook and Instagram — they’re the same company, I know that — who are moving into commerce. And this idea of conversational commerce, which really takes the best of an in store experience… talking to somebody, and the best of the online experience, which is doing it from home and brings them together. And this conversational commerce movement is pretty early, but we’re seeing very high levels of interest in it from our customers here at Sprinklr. And we actually think that it’s going to be probably the thing that’s going to blow the doors off. I’m going to talk more about conversational commerce in my next prediction. But for Facebook and Instagram, they have to think about crypto. They’re gonna have to think about how they’re going to manage crypto, how are they going to use the metadata streams from companies like Chainalysis to have trust in what they are seeing from a crypto standpoint, and how they accept that alternative form of payment. And again, maybe not this year will not be the year of everything going to crypto, but within five years, it’s going to be a major currency that will need to be accepted. So you have to start relatively early. There is an opportunity for some of these platforms to get ahead of the banks and get ahead of other retail channels to get ahead of Shopify, people like that by being an early mover in crypto. So look for more action in that front, over 2021.

So that’s the first prediction. Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about conversational commerce. And we’ll talk a little bit about where that’s going. And I’ll delve deep into that. And just as a preview, and this shouldn’t come as a great surprise. But we have some very interesting technology at Sprinklr on making that happen for some of the world’s largest brands. And so we’ll…  can’t get into too many details there. But I’ll tease that a little bit just so you’re, you’re aware of it, and you can find out more and I’ll show you where to do that.

So for the CXM Experience. It’s 2021 predictions. I’m Grad Conn, and I’ll see you next time.