Wachsman, a global communications consultancy specialised in blockchain, finance, and emerging technologies, has announced the appointment of Jane Fields as Managing Director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Fields previously held the role of Chief Communications Officer for Skype, served on the Board of United Business Media, founded two global communications agencies
We speak with Jane Fields about her new role and Blockchain in the media.
From your time at Skype, what would you say was the general attitude towards emerging tech such as Blockchain in already-established Firms?
Skype was certainly a moment in time! The fastest growing .com of its time, it was way ahead of the curve in terms of emerging tech and what it could achieve. Its disruption to the communications sector escalated innovation in the industry, a goal all emerging technologies should endeavour to achieve.
In its early stages, blockchain was considered to many as synonymous with cryptocurrency. As a result, people have been wary of this new technology that had been so closely linked to market volatility, scams and hacks. However, the blockchain industry has reached a new level of maturity with more enterprise adoption and they are beginning to see the benefits for their businesses.
The use cases of blockchain technology and its impact on the future is mindblowing. It’s the new buzzword in fintech, with companies like IBM putting itself behind this emerging tech, its use in real estate with shared ownership and revenue sharing, healthcare and insurance, and supply chain, blockchain could be the simplest yet most effective solution to deal with counterfeit, identity management, gaming, banking — its impact is endless.
What drew you to emerging technologies and Wachsman as a company?
It’s an exciting time to be at the cutting-edge of emerging tech, with Wachsman sitting at the centre of the blockchain ecosystem with exceptional knowledge and vision in both its founder, David Wachsman, and the exceptional talent in its global team. I have joined at a time of exponential growth and expansion within the industry.
Spread across three continents, Wachsman’s teams produce outstanding work for their clients, the passion is tangible when you step into the different offices, and the bar is continually being raised to exceed industry standards. We will be expanding into new markets over the coming months, and I am thrilled to come on board and spearhead this continued growth across EMEA.
What do you think caused the notable gap in progress that certain emerging technologies have in places like Europe compared to places like Africa?
I think that regulation has played a large role in the adoption (or lack thereof) of emerging technologies in certain regions. Certain Asian countries have led the way with crypto regulation in the region, most notably Singapore, however more and more European countries are setting up much needed regulatory frameworks and accelerating towards mainstream blockchain adoption. Jurisdictions such as Gibraltar, Malta, and France, to name a few, have been favourable in implementing regulation without stifling technological innovation. As a result, they’ve created a supportive regulatory climate for these emerging tech companies to establish themselves.
What progress do you see being made in places like Africa that are still somewhat behind in the next decade?
Just earlier this year, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) acknowledged that regulatory action is needed for crypto-assets in order to protect consumers and investors. Just as it was with the internet in the early 2000s, as more people begin to realize the game-changing potential of blockchain, I believe we will begin to see blockchain adoption become more widespread.
A lot of mainstream media only seem interested in technologies like blockchain when they can sensationalize it (such as the QuadrigaCX story). What can be done to combat this?
As PR professionals, we have a responsibility to create messaging and brand stories that are truthful, but of course in the most compelling way possible.
I think that the power of blockchain lies in its use cases; the technology itself will — and should — become invisible. Just like any other nascent technology, it needs to be tried and tested in order to be trusted by the public. Often times, sensationalist or controversial stories are the ones that garner the most attention. I think as blockchain continues to showcase its applicability across many industries, people will begin to focus on the immense potential of the technology to transform their businesses and lives, as opposed to the most attention-grabbing headlines.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Working with our clients. The teams are working with some of the most exciting innovative companies and technologies in the industry, and as we expand into new markets and countries, we will continue to work with the best and brightest minds, delivering stellar work.
In the emerging technologies space, it is often hard to distinguish genuine potential from hype. In your experience, what is the best way to go about this?
It’s important to recognize that use cases must solve real problems for organizations — this is what distinguishes potential from hype. Businesses need to determine whether blockchain is a useful, cost-effective solution, for instance if a business requires the removal of a third-party intermediary. Businesses should steer clear of jumping on the bandwagon and using blockchain for blockchain’s sake as unstructured experimentation without direction will ultimately reap little to no benefit. Businesses should instead focus on the potential strategic value it might bring.