The State of Blockchain Development
At BTblock, we have read with interest The Economist 9/1/18 Technology Quarterly and its reporting on the state of blockchain development. The thoughts of the firm are as follows:
I. The Promise of Blockchain Technology
“Enthusiasts are also beginning to realize that even when a blockchain might be a suitable tool for the job at hand, they will still need to resolve the same sorts of problems as for any other big IT project. Proposing a new standard is the easy part. The point is to get everyone, including competitors with little love for each other, to agree on important details such as who will be in charge, how the system will be built, how data formats will work and what happens if someone wants to leave.”
This is why design sprints are key. The discovery phase is allows us to do the necessary research, and the sprint itself brings the right people together so that we can determine an MVP that all parties can agree to work together on. This provides a framework for a solution built for success.
II. Dividing the cryptocurrency sheep from the blockchain goats
“The less world-changing a proposed use, the better its chance of success. For example, the cryptographic structures that make data in a blockchain hard to change are fairly easy to introduce. When they add an extra layer of security to things like financial accounts or official documents, they could be useful.”
We agree with this. As a technology architecture, trying to boil the ocean or change the world is unfocused and likely to fail. Blockchain is not a panacea, but it can create efficiencies and help to remove unnecessary intermediaries. It can bring transparency to supply chains. However, a careful and measured approach is needed. The concept must first be validated.
III. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are useless
“Just because blockchains have been overhyped does not mean they are useless. Their ability to bind their users into an agreed way of working may prove helpful in arenas where there is no central authority, such as international trade. But they are no panacea against the usual dangers of large technology projects: cost, complexity and overcooked expectations. Cryptocurrencies have fallen far short of their ambitious goals. Blockchain advocates have yet to prove that the underlying technology can live up to the grand claims made for it.”
Perhaps an accurate comparison is to consider the early days of the internet when dial-up access was the primary means of interface. As we know, technology advanced to allow for instantaneous ubiquitous connectivity (e.g. EtherNet, WiFi). Simply because things are complicated in the beginning does not indicate their lack of utility in the future as the underlying technology gets better. Things such as scalability and speed are already improving dramatically. All technologies early on experience hurdles. It is the organizations that push them forward who drive innovation and improvement.
IV. PwC Blockchain Enterprise Survey
There is a recent PwC survey published by the firm’s blockchain team. It is worth noting the timing of the study’s release on 8/27/18 was such that The Economist was unable to include it in the 9/1/18 Technology Quarterly blockchain coverage.
PwC Blockchain Enterprise Survey:
“As a distributed, tamperproof ledger, a well-designed blockchain doesn’t just cut out intermediaries, reduce costs, and increase speed and reach. It also offers greater transparency and traceability for many business processes. Gartner forecasts that blockchain will generate an annual business value of more than US $3 trillion by 2030. It’s possible to imagine that 10% to 20% of global economic infrastructure will be running on blockchain-based systems by that same year.”
The PwC survey has received broad business media attention which in their interpretation is mixed depending on whether to emphasize early stage experimentation or a more advanced stage of adoption. The two links below offer representative points of view:
Clearly, it is early in terms of blockchain research, development and deployment. Only 15% of the companies PwC surveyed show live deployment. BTblock enables ideation, validation, implementation, and the bringing to market of new innovations on the blockchain. As such, we are a catalyst for companies to have a first-mover advantage. We are encouraged by the market size and potential scale that will serve as a strong growth trajectory for BTblock as a firm.