Eric Piscini is co-author of this blog.
Part 4 in the “Deloitte Blockchain Adoption” series
Blockchain technology and its derivatives are continuing to mature, but a number of enabling conditions need to be addressed for its mainstream potential to be realized around the world. Deloitte leaders across 10 global regions see varying levels of certainty around the anticipated impact that the technology could have on financial services, manufacturing, supply chain, government, and other applications. While there are pockets of innovation in places such as Asia Pacific, Northern Europe, and Africa, many countries in Europe and Latin America are taking it slow, awaiting more standardization and regulation.
The general expected timeframe for adoption is two to five years, with some notable exceptions. Most regions have seen an uptick in proof-of-concept (PoC) and pilot activity, mostly by financial institutions working with blockchain startups. A few countries in Africa and Northern Europe are exploring national digital currencies and blockchain-based online payment platforms. In Asia Pacific, several countries are setting up blockchains to facilitate cross-border payments.
The Middle East, while bullish on blockchain’s potential—Dubai has announced its intention to be the first blockchain-powered government by 2020, for example—finds itself in the very early phases of adoption; widespread adoption is expected to take up to five years in the region.
In most regions, the main barrier to adoption is public skepticism as well as concerns about regulation. However, as consortiums, governments, and organizations continue to develop use cases for smart contracts, and the public becomes more educated on potential benefits, viable blockchain applications should continue to evolve around the world.
Where do you start?
Though some pioneering organizations may be preparing to take their blockchain use cases and PoCs into production, no doubt many are less far down the adoption path. To begin exploring blockchain’s commercialization potential in your organization, consider taking the following foundational steps:
- Determine if your company actually needs what blockchain offers. There is a common misconception in the marketplace that blockchain can solve any number of organizational challenges. In reality, it can be a powerful tool for only certain use cases. As you chart a path toward commercialization, it’s important to understand the extent to which blockchain can support your strategic goals and drive real value.
- Put your money on a winning horse. Examine the blockchain uses cases you currently have in development. Chances are there are one or two designed to satisfy your curiosity and sense of adventure. Deep-six those. On the path to blockchain commercialization, focusing on use cases that have disruptive potential or those aligned tightly with strategic objectives can help build support among stakeholders and partners and demonstrate real commercialization potential.
- Identify your minimum viable ecosystem. Who are the market players and business partners you need to make your commercialization strategy work? Some will be essential to the product development lifecycle; others will play critical roles in the transition from experimentation to commercialization. Together, these individuals comprise your minimum viable ecosystem.
- Become a stickler for consortium rules. Blockchain ecosystems typically involve multiple parties in an industry working together in a consortium to support and leverage a blockchain platform. To work effectively, consortia need all participants to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Without detailed operating and governance models that address liability, participant responsibilities, and the process for joining and leaving the consortium, it can become more difficult—if not impossible—to make subsequent group decisions about technology, strategy, and ongoing operations.
- Start thinking about talent—now. To maximize returns on blockchain investments, organizations will likely need qualified, experienced IT talent who can manage blockchain functionality, implement updates, and support participants. Yet as interest in blockchain grows, organizations looking to implement blockchain solutions may find it increasingly challenging to recruit qualified IT professionals. In this tight labor market, some CIOs are relying on technology partners and third-party vendors that have a working knowledge of their clients’ internal ecosystems to manage blockchain platforms. While external support may help meet immediate talent needs and contribute to long-term blockchain success, internal blockchain talent—individuals who accrue valuable system knowledge over time and remain with an organization after external talent has moved on to the next project—can be critical for maintaining continuity and sustainability. CIOs should consider training and developing internal talent while, at the same time, leveraging external talent on an as-needed basis.
With the initial hype surrounding blockchain beginning to wane, more companies are developing solid use cases and exploring opportunities for blockchain commercialization. Indeed, a few early adopters are even pushing PoCs into full production. Though a lack of standardization in technology and skills may present short-term challenges, expect broader adoption of blockchain to advance steadily in the coming years as companies push beyond these obstacles and work toward integrating and coordinating multiple blockchains within a single value chain.
Contact Darshini Dalal at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Deloitte Insights and is republished by permission.