It’s too early to say with any certainty if non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are just another passing fad or represent a whole new way to value digital assets. Regardless of how an individual may feel about NFTs, it’s clear there is enough critical mass of enthusiasm to make NFTs part of a digital business strategy. The challenge now is determining how best to go about it. There is already a wide range of startups that provide access to blockchain platforms for managing NFT-related transactions.
However, Salesforce at a Salesforce Connections 2022 conference this week demonstrated a pilot of an extension to the Salesforce Commerce Cloud dubbed NFT Cloud that enables organizations to mint, manage and sell NFTs. In effect, NFTs are now just one more digital asset to be included within any marketing strategy, says Lidiane Jones, executive vice president and general manager for Salesforce Digital Experiences. “It drives engagement and community,” she said.
One thing that makes the Salesforce approach to blockchain unique is that it is simultaneously committing to making sure the blockchain platform is carbon neutral. One of the issues with any form of blockchain-based transaction is that, as the number of transactions increase, the amount of carbon emitted by the IT equipment required to process those transactions starts to exponentially increase. It’s been estimated that if Bitcoin and Ethereum joined together to form their own country, it would rank 12th in terms of energy consumption just behind the United Kingdom and France.
That’s obviously problematic for any organization that has made sustainability commitments that require them to find ways to offset the levels of carbon their organization emits. Paying for carbon offsets is quite expensive.
Proponents of blockchain platforms argue it’s only a matter of time before computer science advances to the point where blockchain platforms are energy efficient. The Salesforce pilot suggests that day may be coming sooner than thought. One way or another, blockchain platforms are expected to drive the next great trillion IT platform marketplace as digital transactions become more decentralized. At the core of those transactions is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that acts as the entity for governing these transactions. Naturally, many companies are already angling to become that entity. Coachella, Adidas and Dolce & Gabanna, for example, all have NFT initiatives in place.
Cloud platforms will naturally provide a way for many organizations to hedge their NFT bets. Rather than build out a blockchain platform themselves, many will opt to rely on a cloud service managed by someone else. That same cloud service provider can also be held accountable for any sustainability issues that might arise.
Arguably, NFTs are already part of the digital business fabric. The only thing that remains to be seen is the degree to which a set of digital pixels are an asset that can be protected by copyrights. There may be only one original digital artwork, but if there are thousands of digital copies of it everywhere, it’s questionable how value can be ascribed to the original. Then again, there’s no accounting for either taste or the innate human need to brag about owning something.