Blockchain Technology – What do we really know ?

A trip down memory lane

In 2008, an individual or group of people known under the name of “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-To-Peer Electronic Cash System”. In this paper, the author(s) put forward a « peer-to-peer » version of the electronic currency (or “Cryptocurrency”) that would allow transactions to be achieved successfully from one party to another without the need to use any financial institution. This idea marked the creation of what is more commonly known as « Bitcoin ».

On 3 January 2009, the author(s), who remained anonymous, released an open source program using a new protocol that gave birth to “Blockchain”. Before delving further into our explanations, it is worth noting that Blockchain is not a cryptocurrency! Indeed, Blockchain is the technology used to facilitate online transactions. It is made up of a series of blocks, or lists of records of data if you will, that are interconnected to each other.

“Blockchain is the tech. Bitcoin is merely the first mainstream manifestation of its potential.” 

Mark Kenigsberg, founder of Bitcoin Chaser

The popularity of the Bitcoin has gradually increased since then and is believed by many to have become a real and reliable alternative in the financial world. According to Marc Andreessen, a very influential entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, Blockchain is « the most important invention since the Internet itself « .

Blockchain technology has now evolved, and could be applied to many other fields beyond finance. Johann Palychata, Head of Blockchain at BNP Paribas Securities considered it as an invention “like the steam or combustion engine” that has the potential to transform the world of finance and beyond.

But how does it actually work?

Blockchain is, in the broadest terms, a way of passing information from A to B in a safe and automated manner.

« How Blockchain works » (Financial Times)

The party that needs to make a transaction (1) creates a block (2). This block is first verified (3) by millions of computers around the network. The now-verified block (4)  is added to a chain (5), which is stored across the network, creating not only a unique block but also a unique history.  Each block contains a reference of the previous block. It is thus impossible to falsify one block because such an action will automatically falsify the whole chain.

Moreover, the Blockchain technology is totally “decentralized”, that is, it has no central authority like banks of any other financial institutions for example. Instead, it is maintained by a group of people called the “miners” (or “nodes”) who use very high-powered computers to solve complex mathematical problems (we’ll spare you the details).

By doing so, they make sure that all the transactions go through all around the world. Thus, thanks to the Blockchain technology, date, time, participants and amount of every transaction are publicly accessible and fraud is nearly impossible.

Shifting the economic paradigm?

With the ongoing evolution in Information Technology, our current economic system is being continually transformed by the rise of new information networks. The Blockchain technology, one of the features of the Web 3.0, has shed new light to the way finance operates, creating what could become a real alternative to our current centralized economic model. Indeed, embracing a more decentralized economic model, which enables personal computers to maintain a database of values and exchange via Internet Protocols, may well be a step towards Web transparency as information public and available on the network by all.

More concretely, and beyond peer-to-peer interactions, Blockchain has also helped companies strike deals with the smart contract features on Public Blockchains, such as Ethereum. Those smart contracts have allowed fundraising through the Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

Blockchain and Advertising

In the current world of advertising, the eyes of consumers are drifting away from newspapers and televisions to computers and smartphones. In the digital advertising world, the market is constantly growing and is expected to expand further in the years to come.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an example must be worth a million, right? So, in 2017,  the Vietnamese start-up « Bigbom » successfully raised 14 million USD of their own cryptocurrency “BBO”,  thanks to the ICO-fundraising system.  Their long-term project is to combine Blockchain features to e-commerce and advertising. According to Nguyễn Văn Vững, CEO and founder, « digital marketing is a promising technology that is expected to transform the Global Digital World in the next few years ».

“We are the second most important Blockchain project in Vietnam, our experts and engineers are constantly working on Blockchain features that will go beyond the current ones », he added. This start-up is a good example of  Blockchain features used in the digital advertising sector. Their marketplace is expected to become a real hub where advertisers, publishers, agencies and content providers will come together to connect and do business.

EU actions

Since 2018, the European Union started to take action to improve the status of Blockchain in Europe. According to the French President Emmanuel Macron, this technology could put Europe at « vanguard » of innovation.

European Blockchain Partnership (EBP)

On 10 April 2018, 21 EU Member States and Norway agreed to sign the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) that is expected to develop « cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy ». Of course, the Commission’s Mariya Gabriel was thrilled: “In the future, all public services will use blockchain technology. Blockchain is a great opportunity for Europe and Member States to rethink their information systems, to promote user trust and the protection of personal data, to help create new business opportunities and to establish new areas of leadership, benefiting citizens, public services and companies”.

EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum

In 2018, The European Commission also launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum with the support of the European Union. This action is expected to highlight key developments of Blockchain in Europe. It is also an opportunity to support European actors and reinforce European engagement with multiple investors involved in Blockchain activities.

Even though these EU actions aimed at a smart and better use of Blockchain in our societies, promoting Blockchain development is not unanimous. Jakob Von Weizacker, European Parliament lawmaker, gave warning of the capacity of a single system to prevail above others. He also pointed out the necessity to protect consumers against cryptocurrencies. According to him, they must “not become tokens of unlawful behavior or the object of empty speculative bubbles”.

Conclusion

To conclude, it is clear that Blockchain offers valuable features by securing transactions around the world and creating new opportunities for development for companies. It is a huge network with a current market capacity of over 170 billion USD.

Nevertheless, it is also sensible to highlight some of the criticisms towards this technology. Blockchain is not very eco-friendly… Indeed, in order to secure the billions of transactions around the globe, a large amount of computing power is needed, and this comes at a cost. For example, Bitcoin has used as much energy as 159 nations in 2018. Moreover, the lack of regulation around Blockchain creates a risky environment. Today, there is no clear legislation that can protect millions of users in the world. Between 2014 and 2016, the Bulgaria-based company, Onecoin, made 3.7 billion USD in revenue “based completely on lies and deceit”.

Nothing is black and white, and if Blockchain can be a powerful catalyst for change, one must bear in mind that it comes at a (hefty) price. If our digital world is in constant evolution, let us hope, then, that it will yield sustainable ways to foment the Blockchain revolution, too.

written by Alkacem Guerbai

LinkedIn – à la découverte de la première communauté professionnelle au monde

Avec plus de 500 millions d’utilisateur.rice.s dans le monde, et plus de 260 millions d’utilisateur.rice.s actifs chaque mois, LinkedIn est, aujourd’hui,  la première communauté professionnelle au monde.

En Belgique, la barre des 3 millions de comptes a été dépassée en 2018, selon Xavier Degraux, consultant en réseaux sociaux. Ce qui représente plus de 26 % de la population belge. Ce chiffre doit être nuancé afin d’avoir une indication plus précise sur les utilisateur.rice.s actifs mensuellement. « Si on extrapole ce que l’on voit au niveau mondial, on peut dire que la moitié seulement de ces profils sont actifs mensuellement » nuance l’expert.

Un outil de recrutement important et efficace.

Une étude réalisée par Vanessa Castelyns et Ralf Caers de la KU Leuven démontre l’importance de LinkedIn et Facebook dans le processus de recrutement des entreprises en Belgique.

Un total de respectivement 398 et 353 professionnel.le.s issu.e.s de différents secteurs d’activité et de différentes organisations, ont répondu à un questionnaire en ligne afin de déterminer l’importance de LinkedIn et Facebook dans la sélection de candidat.e.s. Il ressort de cette étude que la page LinkedIn du candidat contient une importante source d’informations complémentaires le concernant. Cela détermine également le choix des candidat.e.s pour un éventuel entretien, c’est une véritable « carte d’identité professionnelle ».

Éric Delcroix, expert dans le domaine de la communication et des médias sociaux, et auteur de nombreux ouvrages sur les réseaux sociaux se penche également sur les enjeux de cette plateforme professionnelle et ses implications sur le marketing et la communication de l’entreprise, dans son ouvrage LinkedIn.

Il affirme que « le recrutement doit s’adapter aux formes de communication modernes », LinkedIn constitue par conséquent, l’outil idéal afin d’optimiser le processus de recrutement des entreprises.

Afin de démontrer l’importance des réseaux sociaux professionnels dans l’exercice de recrutement des entreprises, les méthodes de recherche de candidats de deux personnages fictifs,  M. Florent et M. Albert, tous deux recruteurs, sont comparées. Si M. Florent est présent sur les différents réseaux sociaux et est un fervent partisan de l’entreprise 2.0 , M. Albert est quant à lui de la « vieille école ».

Sur une ligne du temps, pendant que M. Albert publie une annonce d’offre d’emploi sur le site internet de son entreprise, dans quelques journaux et utilise des « jobs boards »; M. Florent publie une offre similaire sur le blog de son entreprise, qui circulera ensuite sur le Web et sur les différents réseaux sociaux.

Alors que M. Albert est un peu coincé en raison de la lenteur du processus, M. Florent interagit sur Facebook, Google+ et  utilise les outils de recherche sur LinkedIn afin de trouver le candidat idéal. Il crée également une alerte afin d’être prévenu de l’arrivée du candidat qui correspondrait le plus à son offre d’emploi.

Notons que du point du vue du candidat, l’entreprise de M. Florent sera considérée comme étant « moderne », alors que l’image de celle de M. Albert sera plutôt vue comme désuète en raison de son absence de tous les réseaux sociaux.

Le temps des retours arrive … si M. Albert a reçu de nombreux CV papier et par voie électronique, parfois éloignés du poste proposé, M. Florent consulte la présence des candidat.e.s correspondant à l’offre d’emploi sur les différents réseaux sociaux.

Alors que M. Albert trie les CV reçus afin d’entamer les entrevues qui s’étaleront sur une ou deux semaines, M. Florent a déjà présélectionné quelques candidat.e.s et rencontré celleux jugé.e.s pertinent.e.s. De plus, la présence sur Linkedin notamment a permis un accès à des informations complémentaires nécessaires à l’entreprise, et a permis une optimisation du temps du recruteur.

Alors que M. Albert continue ses entretiens, M. Florent a trouvé la recrue qu’il recherchait presque sans aucun frais !

Une véritable vitrine des entreprises

Nous avons, jusque-là, analysé LinkedIn en tant qu’outil prisé par les services de ressources humaines à la recherche d’employ.é.e.s qualifié.e.s, et par les jeunes étudiant.e.s motivé.e.s par un premier challenge professionnel.

Limiter l’utilité de cette plateforme au recrutement serait réducteur et non représentatif de la réalité. En effet, LinkedIn ne limite pas à la personne, mais s’étend également aux structures de tous niveaux, qu’elles soient commerciales ou pas.  Un exemple est celui de la page « LinkedIn » de l’entreprise.

Tout comme une page facebook, la page Linkedin de l’entreprise a pour but de rassembler des abonné.e.s et de partager du contenu qualitatif. elle permet également de mettre en avant les événements organisés par l’entreprise ou par d’autres acteur.rice.s du secteur. C’est donc un moyen efficace d’apporter une meilleure visibilité en ligne dans une société en pleine révolution digitale.

Avantages d’une page d’entreprise

  • Mettre en avant votre service ou produit.
  • Véhiculer votre culture d’entreprise, vos valeurs et objectifs.
  • Générer du trafic sur votre site web.
  • Rassembler vos salarié.e.s en une seule et même plateforme.
  • Améliorer votre référencement social ( SMO) et naturel ( SEO).
  • Améliorer votre visibilité.
  • Affirmer votre expertise auprès des professionnel.e.s de votre secteur.
  • Diffuser des annonces et recruter de nouveaux collaborateur.rice.s.
  • Créer un réseau de partenaires et attirer de nouveaux.elles client.e.s.

Au-delà de cette liste non-exhaustive des avantages pour une entreprise de se constituer une page LinkedIn, la publicité effectuée sur la plateforme constitue un élément important pour toute stratégie marketing.

Il existe ainsi deux types de gestion des publicités. D’une part, la publicité en libre-service, est une manière facile et efficace de gérer ses campagnes via « Campaign Manager » tout en ayant un contrôle sur le budget octroyé et sur les objectifs à atteindre ( clics et impressions).

D’une autre part, les campagnes gérées permettent de mettre en lien l’entreprise avec une équipe de « LinkedIn Marketing solutions » qui s’occupera des campagnes publicitaires. Faire appel à une équipe de professionnel.le.s permet de mieux déterminer la cible, les types de publicité à créer et l’optimisation.

Quelques chiffres clés à retenir 

+ 30 millions d’entreprises utilisent LinkedIn dans le monde.

+ 20 millions d’offres d’emploi actives y sont présentes.

+ 90% des recruteur.euse.s utilisent LinkedIn régulièrement.

+ 200 pays et 24 langues disponibles.

Écrit par Alkacem Guerbai

Web Marketing 101- Understanding the Lingo

“Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about »- Benjamin Franklin

Community management, SEO, B2C, CMS, Copywriting, Account management, CSS, Newsletter… Do any of these terms ring a bell? They tend to regularly pop up in job (or internship) offers, but do you really know what they mean? In our society, where social media gains more and more importance , effective web marketing has become both easier and more complicated at the same time. As the competition on the market grows ever tougher, the techniques need to be innovative to work. Knowing the lingo of the sector, is the first step in becoming a web marketing wizard, which is why we decided to try decrypting some of the terms for you. Who knows what might come handy during or after your master’s in multilingual communication?

Search engine marketing

As you can imagine, every company wants to direct potential clients towards their homepage. Today, several tools are available to help them do so. Different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are of course all useful for this purpose, through what the pros tend to call social media optimization (SMO), an umbrella term for different techniques that strive to make a brand’s presence on social media as effective as possible. But did you know that companies also have several ways of affecting how high they will place in the results of a search engine?

An important and fairly complicated branch of web marketing is called search engine marketing (SEM), which aims at making the different search engines as useful as possible for the brand. One of its two types, SEO, stands for search engine optimization and is a free technique. In a nutshell, it consists in choosing highly relevant keywords or keyword phrases and using them on the site to obtain better natural results on search engines like Google. A good tool for WordPress, one of the most used content management systems (CMS), is Yoast which is a free widget that helps you get better at producing SEO content.

The paying version of SEM is called search engine advertising (SEA), and as its name gives away, means buying ads on search engines to appear among the first results. The most common tool for SEA is Google Adwords, which allows companies to pay for small ads that look similar to normal search results.

If this sounds tempting, your future title could be account manager, which would involve handling ongoing marketing campaigns.

More traditional tools

You probably receive tons of marketing e-mails every day too? Newsletters and e-mail marketing are indeed some of the more traditional tools that are still largely used by companies worldwide. Newsletters are destined for clients already familiar with the brand and tend to become more and more personalized based on the data that the company collects.

Written by Julia Virtanen

How to manage diversity @ work ?

Managing diversity has become a key issue for business”.

On Monday, I was explaining to you in this article the central place given to diversity in our training in Human Resources. We all know the benefits of a diverse workforce but we tend to forget that “it can also lead to conflict, higher staff turnover and costly complaints”. So, how to deal with diversity?

There isn’t only one way of doing, obviously. Four different approaches have been identified by a UQ Business School research team : Identity Blind, Assimilation, Inclusive Differentiation, and Equitable Transformation.

If you want to learn more about these four approaches, don’t hesitate to check it out!

In your opinion, which one seems to be the most effective?

Écrit par Elodie ROSIER

Social media disrupts the communication landscape

“The social trend is changing the way businesses are operating and therefore the way they are communicating with their customers, prospects and employees”.

Mastering communication is an essential criteria in today’s professional world. The growing importance and impact of social media encourage businesses to constantly bring out new, up-to date communication strategies. As a matter of fact, the ever-changing nature of communication is what makes this sector and above all this master exciting: to face new obstacles and to learn new skills almost every day.

I invite you to read this article and ask yourself which abilities are crucial to keep up with the latest trends in the communication sector.

Link to article

Écrit par Eléonore Vranckx