The latest Gartner research on blockchain adoption across industries was recently released... the findings illustrate a typical Hype Cycle for a technological advancement: coming-down from the initial euphoria that accompanies innovation, leaving in its place a more balanced view of practical applications and healthy skepticism — often kicking the can down the road for when expectations for change can be met.
If we’re entering into the “Trough of Disillusionment” (instead of exiting the hype phase, as many initially predicted), there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel: While traipsing through the muddy mess as standards crystallize and old ways of blockchain workings become obsolete, it’s important to remember that there will be winners on the other side. And those who stay the course will have a front seat to serious payout, with value-add jumping from $176 billion in 2025 to $3.1 trillion by 2030. To be at this stage of evaluation is an opportunity in and of itself; it is, after all, where the body of proof builds momentum. It is where the real work begins, and where the learnings foster advantage.
How might leaders interpret this new information? How can blockchain — in whatever form or maturity it stands at present — generate the most value now while preparing for future change? Here are some initial recommendations to lead the wave of adoption and indicators to help you adjust along the way.Blockchain Adoption Recommendations
- Understand the layers of trust and transparency possible through your blockchain investment. Transparency into how data is used and shared extends far beyond the immediate result of individual and cumulative transactions; embedded in blockchain’s promise is the idea that your data itself can more fully trusted through the immutability of Blockchain input. Once blockchain has been introduced within a company, the effects of its use can translate into greater trust and transparency for something equally as intangible as data running through an organization: its brand. Companies must first trust in the promise of blockchain as a concept in order to later experience improved customer trust through blockchain benefits. This process occurs in stages, of which many organizations are in an initial trial and proof of concept for blockchain systems that are bound to change in just a few years’ time. In fact, according to Gartner 90 percent of current enterprise blockchain platform implementations will need to be replaced in the next 18 months to stay competitive. Companies shouldn’t be too discouraged by this statistic: Early blockchain trial is important now, even if certain systems become obsolete in the future to make way for better blockchains. Giving teams time to learn blockchain, experiment with its viability within existing infrastructure, and become in-house experts will build intellectual property as an asset while the blockchain ecosystem evolves, positioning your IT team for success and a readiness to seize opportunities with the technology as the market matures.
- Closely follow and participate in consortia. The activity that stems from organized blockchain entities will promote standardization beyond individual use cases. Though they are organized today, their impact has been limited. When a consortium is focused on making its own platform itself the industry standard (think Hyperledger versus Ethereum), it’s not surprising that the bigger picture is still a bit blurry, causing confusion for early adopters and limiting the scope of what’s possible for those creating proprietary blockchains behind the scenes or adopting available options today without full confidence in their long-term viability. Companies invested in blockchain should continue to exert influence on the progress made by consortia to create guidelines that will pave the way for blockchain adoption.
- Assess long-term viability through the lens of interoperability. Interoperability will create the path forward for blockchain, shifting focus from small-scale intracompany projects to industry-wide initiatives. From EMR innovation in healthcare to trade finance (FSI) and digital rights management (M&E), the ability for a blockchain ledger system to interact and exchange information with data from other platforms is a major prerequisite for widespread adoption and its impact realization for enterprise value chains. The way data is input – much like the challenges of realizing value from a data lake to warehouse – matters much in the implementation of blockchain and how easily blockchain can extend its reach across different organizations.
- Advocate for software providers to offer blockchain as part of a complete solution. Whether you work directly for a software company or closely alongside vendors as part of IT leadership, your ability to integrate blockchain into future infrastructure relies on its application in relation to other enterprise software, especially for supply chain and other data-rich systems collecting customer and third-party data. Add-ons to ERP and CMS applications will make blockchain adoption more seamless, as long as interoperability is promised in tandem.
- Recognize short-term benefits of blockchain as evidence for the merits of the technology, but not the model of its anticipated future use. As a node-based transaction system, blockchain can facilitate stronger relationships with suppliers and make verification processes faster for existing business procedures right now, reaping rewards in that specific use case within your organization. That same solution, unfortunately, may be obsolete in a few years’ time as favored blockchain platforms gain market share and standards are laid out — creating winners and losers but also better parameters for consistency and reliability. Digital cash is the earliest blockchain use case to prove value, but will inevitably change as new players create their own coinage. Meanwhile, larger-scale opportunities for complex smart contracts and data structures that work together while promising data confidentiality still require innovation in the next five years to pay off on their promise.
Regardless of the status of your current blockchain investment, one major takeaway of Gartner’s recent research is this: the value of blockchain is going to increase exponentially in the next decade. Ready or not, blockchain adoption is a conversation you’ll want to have and you better believe that leaders in this sector will continue to distinguish themselves from the rest. Want to talk more about it: Just say the word.