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Is The Blockchain Failing Corporates?



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Corporates everywhere are struggling to make money, keep people happy and implement new technologies according to new data from Forrester. The blockchain is proving more difficult than others. Why so hard? Two main reasons; most blockchain vendors don’t offer compatible software, and the distributed ledger technology is proving to have few use cases right now according to Nasdaq senior executives. Lured by the promise and not the practical aspects, execs get excited, rush in and don’t expect that revolutionary technology will be costly and hard to implement from the off.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Magnus Haglind, Nasdaq’s senior vice president and head of product management for the market technology described the issues; “The expectation was we’d quickly find use cases, but introducing new technologies requires broad collaboration with industry participants, and it all takes time.”

If you are IBM or Microsoft, this could be a problem because of all that good cloud revenue. Both companies combined command 51% of the $700m Blockchain market right now. If either gets a foothold, it will be a significant leg-up over the other. Expect big moves and hires to ensue based on this element alone, let alone the long-term implications.

Writing ‘Disruptive Technologies; Understand, Evaluate and Respond‘ (which features Blockchain as one of the five most transformative technologies on our horizon), this isn’t surprising to me. Corporates often fail to evaluate technologies ruthlessly before attempting to implement them for a variety of reasons (cost, time-constraints, FOMO, the PR…the list goes on). The TBD framework in the book looks at different elements affecting the issue from different perspectives and levels. The TBD scoring system helps businesses make a personalised decision on issues including if and when the opportunities that Blockchain provides should go ahead.

While reports such as Forresters are a warning to plan Blockchain projects especially careful it is crucial to mention the advice is not to abandon them. Forrester’s Principal Analyst, Martha Bennett makes the distinctions between business-critical ventures and vanity projects; Those who persevere with their blockchain initiatives are not only aware (sometimes painfully) that the technology is still at a very early stage of development, but also understand that this isn’t really about technology, but about business. This is what sets them apart from those who follow the siren call of tech industry promises without sufficient grasp of what a blockchain network is all about, both from a business and a technology perspective; the resulting vanity projects will invariably fail.”

The use cases are out there; the plug-n-play solutions are not. Not having a simple option doesn’t mean the value you would see from implementing Blockchain into your company isn’t there. Beyond PR-ability there are good first-mover benefits with Blockchain. The only warning worth heading is not to write off the Blockchain. The potential the technology has for the health, wealth, food, logistics (and anywhere trust is lacking) industries is enormous. Good things come to those who plan and, as Forrester’s Principal Analyst, Martha Bennett, mentions, Amara’s Law is likely to be at play; “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

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