It’s Time to Move Past the Web3 Experimentation Phase

By Dani Mariano, President at Razorfish

I was recently asked: “How should companies delve deeper into Web3?” Web3 is the next evolution of the internet that emphasizes decentralization, digital ownership, and interoperability. For two years, we’ve been urging our clients and partners to explore, learn, and experiment with every facet of this new frontier so they can identify the most relevant applications for their businesses – and be ready when user adoption grows. Getting to know Web3-native communities, creators, and the unique nuances of building connection through new digital experiences is essential.

Yet, it would be tone deaf to ignore the challenges Web3 has faced since the end of 2022, bookending a year billowed by NFT hype. Much of the skepticism is valid, damaging credibility with outsiders, and scaring companies away from committing too heavily (especially amid a time of disruption and external factors impacting budgets). A complex space to comprehend, Web3 faces more of an uphill climb with audiences that are often sitting in the C-suite and may not be transacting with digital wallets or inhabiting Roblox. I recognize that the folks leading these organizations probably have bigger priorities right now than “experimenting.”

The reality is, organizations that invested in Web3 initiatives don’t want to hear about the experimentation phase any longer. They want to see progress going from experiments to actionable innovation pilots. Here’s how companies can take that next step.

Identify high-value use cases

Web3 needs to be more than a concept or idea to earn widespread buy-in and keep momentum going. First, companies should identify relevant Web3 use cases and rank them based on the value and utility they’ll bring to their audience and the business. It’s essential to demonstrate the benefits in real-world terms, connecting what’s occurring within digital spaces to day-to-day physical experiences. For example, Starbucks launched a successful blockchain-powered version of their loyalty program called Odyssey to create a new revenue stream from digital assets while engaging customers on a deeper level with gamified rewards. With the high-value use cases identified, organizations will know where to focus efforts to make the largest impact.

Prioritize quick wins

With disruptive external factors in the current business landscape, many companies are concentrating on navigating through short-term obstacles. When assessing high-value use cases for Web3, businesses must prioritize the ones that will be quick wins. Positive results in a short timeframe can lead to further support, with quick proof points providing a revelation of what’s possible when Web3 is utilized effectively. For example, Nike’s acquisition of the Web3 native digital fashion studio RTFKT in December 2021 is considered one of the most prescient investments by a large brand into Web3. This early investment led to the development and launch of Nike’s blockchain-powered digital marketplace .Swoosh, which has established Nike as a leader in digital fashion. The foundation of credibility earned fast will lead to more opportunities in the long run to execute on use cases that may take more time to put in place.

Establish metrics to track progress

Once use cases are identified and quick wins are in motion, organizations need to ensure they’re measuring the positive impact of these Web3 pilots. If the goals are to engage more consumers in new ways and create positive, memorable, interactive experiences, they must establish metrics to track progress toward those goals. In Web3, these metrics are often recorded on the blockchain, meaning organizations must familiarize themselves with blockchain analytics. As the journey unfolds, having clear visibility will allow companies to pivot accordingly to stay the course. Web3 is in many ways a new frontier, so being nimble and adaptable will keep programs more resilient to unforeseen circumstances.

Don’t ignore the power of authenticity

No matter how strong the use cases, quick wins, and metrics are, Web3 innovation pilots will face resistance if they are perceived as inconsistent, disconnected, and disingenuous. Organizations hoping to make tangible progress in Web3 can’t ignore the power of authenticity to both derail and elevate. Technology on its own can’t foster that meaningful bond, and assuming practical applications will resonate with users without it could risk destroying everything. Web3 communities are largely populated by Gen Z and the emerging Gen Alpha, who prioritize authenticity and hold organizations to an even higher standard than the generations before them. Thus, it is critical for organizations to tap into Web3-native experts for guidance and feedback when planning for and deploying pilot programs.

It’s fair to be skeptical, but organizations that sift through the noise will see the potential in Web3. As technology evolves to become more frictionless and cost efficient, more brands are finding meaningful ways to go from experimentation to action in this space. It’s an exciting time and still early days, and brands that recognize the unique value Web3 can bring to their businesses, what they can achieve in the short-term and long-term, and the best ways to measure success along the way will put themselves in position to earn further support and expand on their initial pilots.

This is a prime opportunity for all organizations to get closer to solving real-world business problems in practical ways using Web3 technologies. The experimentation phase is over. It’s time to reach the next stage of future-proofing customer relationships with Web3.