When tech met loyalty:

Feature article on legendary LoyaltyOne Director of Technology, Adriana Masson.

Adriana Masson has been in the technology industry for thirty years and has been with LoyaltyOne for fifteen. She was hired as a System Engineer and has grown to become the Director of Technology at LoyaltyOne, Global Solutions and world leading blockchain loyalty tech specialist.

LoyaltyOne are a Canadian based company who provide end-to-end solutions for businesses to connect better with their customers. They use a combination of powerful data analytics, technology and a deep understanding of consumer behaviour to help companies build loyalty strategies that keep customers coming back.

Needless to say, Adriana is at the top of the tech space and a leader in loyalty, a dynamite combination for the execution of a successful loyalty program. When I asked Adriana how she ended up in a Loyalty/Tech role she explained;

“The opportunity came up for me fifteen years ago, it was something different and I took it. I always thought loyalty was a really cool model and it continues to interest and excite me. I think every action a consumer takes should be rewarded somehow whatever the benefit is, material or not, and understanding how to do this from a technical perspective is really important”

“Points only, in itself isn’t cutting anymore and there’s a huge need for innovation on rewards that are transferrable, tradeable, and redeemable across borders, and technology plays a key role. The next generation of exponential technologies like AR/VR, machine learning, IoT and Blockchain are changing the loyalty landscape. New loyalty models are all about being customer centric because consumers now expect this. Millennials have a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality, they expect instant redemption and they are much smarter today from a perceived value perspective. All of this needs to be taken into consideration in this day and age and cryptocurrency is just one of the options we need to be looking at. There are lots of questions that still need to be answered which is what drives me within my role”

Adriana spear headed a huge research paper which is the first of its kind to look at blockchain technology from a pure loyalty perspective. This in-depth analysis is such a valuable piece of work which provides education around blockchain technologies, highlights which tech platforms are out there and the applications of blockchain technology in the market place, all in respect to loyalty.

I asked Adriana how herself and the LoyaltyOne team plan to use all this research they’ve compiled and why this is such a great asset to have researched and developed;

“Great question. Basically, being in the consulting arm of LoyaltyOne, we have many clients approaching us with many different problems. Now that we have a deep understanding of the technology and its applications, we can now take a client’s problem, look at it objectively and then place together the pieces of technology that will solve the problem in a holistic way. We are technology agnostic because there’s no one silver bullet that can solve all problems, we need to assess all the current, available technologies and build relationships with technical providers depending on the client’s individual problem. This approach ultimately delivers a much more comprehensive and valuable service.”

Adriana knows the ins and outs of all the blockchain loyalty technical applications, so I was interested in talking to Adriana about which technology excites her most, especially since she’s looked at each of them in such detail;

Adriana explained that blockchain in a loyalty environment is all about trust and truth, creating efficiencies on both the accounting and reconciliation side within the network, and it’s all of the cryptography that allows this. However, the cryptography side of things, as well as the hash have been around for many years, so it’s actually achieving consensus and true decentralisation that is both mainstreamed and operating at scale (the single biggest issue with blockchain today) that excites her most about the future of blockchain loyalty technology. Adriana says;

 “A variety of consensus algorithms have been proposed, each of which has different benefits and drawbacks. Once we figure out a scalable consensus algorithm which ensures performance and supports massive on-chain transaction throughput for the verification of transactions and identity within the millisecond, that’s the most exciting thing to me. When that consensus algorithm is figured out, this is what will certainly take the blockchain to private corporations –  and in particular a company called Icon who are building a decentralized network that allows independent private blockchains with different governances to transact with one another without intermediaries, are ahead of the game here. I think soon, we will get to a world of true hyper-connectivity”

When speaking about her most valuable learning in regard to blockchain loyalty and being a woman in blockchain to date, she shares some amazing insights with me;

“As you know, it’s all about decentralisation and not having a centralized authority in control of assets and the movement of those assets, which brings a lot of trust. Removing that centralized authority, minimizes the involvement of unnecessary intermediaries – I would love to see the world more equal and this way of thinking and mind-set allows it” 

Adriana’s thoughts about blockchain technology and the role it will play in the future of loyalty and the world and so decisively positive, I wanted to get her thoughts around why so many early blockchain loyalty programs have failed. She was quick to answer;

“The volatility! A motivator like cryptocurrency certainly brings engagement but the problem is how do you deal with your financials. If I were to revalue what use cases would drive value, for a blockchain loyalty program they would be identity, authentication, reconciliation, governance, currency conversion, currency collection and fraud elimination. The three use cases we could use right now in a private blockchain like Hyperledger Fabric would be the identity, reconciliation and fraud  – these are the use cases that don’t affect your financials which is why they’ve been the two successful applications and can be used effectively right now.”

“In saying that, whilst the loyalty token model needs a bit of work, it is also the biggest innovation within blockchain loyalty. The fact that the token has value outside of the network, this changes everything. Members expect instant rewards and blockchain provides that, also the token itself can be used as a redemption within the network or be redeemed for another cryptocurrency – that’s a huge change to the financial model we currently have – The Unify Rewards Project was a great example of this”

Before I let Adriana go, I needed to know what she would like to see next for LoyaltyOne?

“I would love to have a client use DLT / Blockchain with a pilot MVP. I would love to see the pilot then moved to a production state where we are able to take distributive technology-based loyalty solution at scale through a new model with smart contract-enabled tokens.”

“As this technology is at a test-and-learn state, I will also continue to research and trial how it can best be applied to loyalty programs and access the value impact”

Thank you Adriana, for your dedication to blockchain loyalty research and implementation, for sharing your time, for sharing your knowledge and for sharing your first-of-its-kind blockchain loyalty research paper with us. Your contribution to the industry as a loyalty/tech specialist and a women in blockchain is inspiring.

Stacey Lyons is the Marketing Director at Loyalty & Reward Co, a leading loyalty management consulting agency based in Sydney. Stacey has years of experience within loyalty, marketing and eCommerce across multiple channels and business models. Most recently, Stacey has been managing the investor, member and retailer communications for blockchain loyalty company EZToken Rewards.

Stacey is a proud pioneer of women in blockchain and regularly contributes to www.blockchainloyalty.io global resource centre for everything blockchain loyalty. Let’s connect! LinkedIn, Twitter