This past week Peter Brooks and I finished up some client research on the topic of Enterprise Blockchain. The fact is from a year or two of POC’s and poking around; real-world implementations are now underway. What’s interesting to us is that there are two ends to the spectrum of Enterprise Blockchain. At the one end, significant ambitious projects, like transforming entire global supply chains, and the other end, the transformation of under-appreciated but critical tasks. Oddly though, on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much in between.
For example, at the task end of the spectrum, it’s clear that Blockchain will play a significant role in the coming years in transforming credentialing activities. What I mean by ‘credentialing’ is the process of issuing, distributing, and verifying things like Diplomas and Fishing Licenses. Costly, difficult, expensive, and at times fraud-ridden activities that Blockchain is ideal for. It seems like small fry, but this is the kind of work that many Government, Education, and Healthcare organizations struggle with every day. Change takes time, but enough organizations worldwide have already taken the plunge that the momentum is there to continue Blockchain’s roll-out. What is lacking and still causes obstacles, is a lack of awareness of Blockchain’s transformative role and the education and knowledge to leverage it.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have observed many big organizations trying to boil Blockchain’s ocean. In these (typically supply chain or finance) organizations, it’s not the technology that is lacking; it’s again the knowledge and, at times, sophistication to educate all the various parties involved in the transaction. For example, what is good for Walmart or Maersk may be of little interest to the thousands engaged along the chain.
Fundamentally though, the most significant shifts we see in the market are in how Blockchain is positioned. A year ago, it was fairy dust, silver bullet, rainbow dancing unicorn technology. Use this, and instantaneously your world will improve irradicably. In 2020, it’s increasingly positioned more soberly as an addition or an augmentation to existing activities. Because, of course, Blockchain or, for that matter, AI, in and of themselves, can transform nothing. Organizations and indeed, industry sectors, need to want to change before anything can happen. Just like the US election, it takes time to see results. In summary, though we do see massive Blockchain projects underway in Finance and Supply Chain, they will take years to come to fruition. But we also see less ambitious but no less transformative, short term initiatives in Government and Education that come to fruition relatively quickly, via firms like Hyland.
So what about the middle area of our imaginary spectrum? Well, it’s here that we see, though you have to go looking for it, some exciting progress made, laying the groundwork for exciting growth ahead. For example, we recently talked with Kaliedo, who is building out an entire managed stack for Enterprise Blockchain, essentially Blockchain as a managed service. We also spoke with BurstIQ, who have built an AI-enabled data exchange, Blockchain platform gaining traction in healthcare and IPwe that built a platform for Intellectual Property management. Similarly, we recently wrote about the massive roll-out of China’s BSN network across that nation, and Oracles advances with Track and Trace. These are all in the middle of our imaginary spectrum, as they provide ready-made independent and fairly agnostic platforms for entire sectors and actors to build upon, lowering the cost and complexity of leveraging Blockchain significantly.
Who knows what 2021 will bring? We certainly could not have predicted the Pandemic or that Tom Brady would be doing well in Tampa. Next year will hold more surprises, but one of the biggest surprises for us will be if Enterprise Blockchain does not continue on its steady march both onward and upward.
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