About seven years ago, I took a briefing from a startup that developed a collaboration system underpinned by blockchain. At the time, I knew very little about blockchain, and so I started the journey. Long story short, once you get away from the world of crypto and the complexity of the underlying tech and instead look objectively at what blockchain can offer, things quickly simplify. Blockchain distributes trusts and ensures immutability. That’s it, end of the story. But those two elements together are transformative. Take a cognitive step to the side and ask yourself why enterprises and government departments spend literal fortunes on document and record management systems? Well, in large part, hopefully bringing order to information chaos, but just as important to ensure accuracy and verification that document X is, document X. Blockchain and information management are two peas in the same pod. Yet, despite billions being spent and invested in the world of enterprise blockchain, traditional Information Management vendors have steered clear.
So imagine our surprise and, frankly, a delight to stumble somewhat randomly across a product called CB Blockchain Seal from Connecting Software (you can read our report here). A cheap and straightforward to install and use blockchain add-on/plugin to systems like SharePoint and Salesforce. I rarely call out a specific vendor in an analyst note, and I only do so here to ask why it took so long? I cannot predict how successful Connecting Software will be with this product; that’s not our remit, we focus on the value of innovation, but I guarantee it’s the first of many to come. For traditional ECM & Content Services firms dependent on legacy maintenance fees, often from on-premises systems – there should be some urgency to change and address new market opportunities. And blockchain opens the doors to many new opportunities, be that in Government or Education to verify credentials (as Hyland has already embraced) or large and more complex opportunities in engineering and supply chain to certify the provenance of goods. The possibilities for radical change are there for both buyers and sellers alike, and somebody has to make a move; my fear is our industry is often too slow of the mark to embrace innovation and emerging technologies. And instead, they leave a gap for others to fill, as has already happened with a flood of AI-focused disruptive startups coming to market.
Either way, whether the innovation comes from startups or established vendors, change is coming. Next month we will announce our Innovation Index Awards (the report is already with our editor). I urge anyone with interest to peruse it. If nothing else, it sheds light on new approaches and fresh thinking in what can otherwise be an overly conservative sector.
Not so many Analyst Notes recently as we have been incredibly busy with client work and as the great contemporary American philosopher Kenny Chesney so aptly put it, “It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!”