What’s Blocking Blockchain?

17 Jul

What’s Blocking Blockchain?

Craig Wentworth
Research Director, European Blockchain Practice
Read full bio — Twitter: @craigwentworth

Last month, IDC’s Blockchain Innovation Council met online to discuss how blockchain thinking is evolving and acting as a catalyst for new ways of thinking and working. (For an introduction to IDC’s European Innovation Councils, see this blog on their launch posted by Phil Carter, Chief Analyst, Europe).

As use case patterns become hardened and better understood across industries, Europe’s blockchain-curious organizations are turning their attention from solely technology-focused proof of concept projects, to wider proof of business initiatives that seek to address related concerns (around governance and IP; business cases that stack up at multiple granular levels — for example, across an ecosystem as a whole, and for individual participants; and consortium/platform growth, monetisation, incentivisation, etc.).

Issues in Blockchain Technology

That’s not to say that “business concerns” are the only things left blocking blockchain’s path to widespread operational adoption. There are still technology issues to address, of course, such as:

  • The development of the technology itself (as it’s moulded to fit a widening variety of use cases, far removed from crypto origins)
  • Its operational suitability in enterprise and wider ecosystem settings (often addressed by adding layers of security, identity and access management, and network management capabilities, etc)
  • Its integration and embedding into the existing IT estate (not just making a new blockchain solution work with the incumbent architecture, but also injecting some smaller level of “blockchain capability” into proven applications in situ — getting an advantage from what’s already in place).

The Importance of Value

The picture that Council members paint is one where there’s (unsurprisingly, perhaps) a variety of factors to consider, with heavy doses of blockchain pragmatism (and the need deliver value in the short term) influencing tech buyers’ priorities.

Those aforementioned “business issues” are typically receiving more attention now than before, and earlier in the process too. Many of the basic technology concepts have already been proven in the most common industry use cases, and there’s much learning being applied from the vanguard of early adopters’ experiences. This has shaped the way that blockchain is being applied in various contexts.

Also, while some of the more “born on a blockchain” start-ups may well talk of a decentralized future nirvana, for most organizations the aim is simply to drive inefficiencies out of a system (by obviating the need for expensive and complex intermediaries to oversee the exchange of information and value).

Therefore, this grounding in the need to deliver value and show results quickly (before there’s any opportunity to progress towards any further stage of potential blockchain future) is reflected in a mainstream enterprise focus on the integration of blockchain with back-end systems.

This means making blockchain work with what’s already been proven to be working (i.e., before there’s any real need demonstrated for inter-ledger protocol interoperability, because those sorts of problems just haven’t surfaced significantly in production-ready environments yet).

The multi-blockchain business environment may well be coming, but it’s not here now… and so it’s not today’s problem to solve.

Listen now to our on-demand webcast, answering the question Why does Blockchain matter for Digital Transformation? in which Craig Wentworth and Carla La Croce discussed why blockchain adoption finds the most fertile ground, how it’s able to play a key role in wider digital transformation initiatives across the enterprise, and where the sweet-spot can be found that helps your business take advantage of blockchain thinking…. which looks at many of the points made in this blog.

And if you want to know more about IDC’s European Blockchain Strategies research, please contact Craig Wentworth or go to https://uk.idc.com/.

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