Edited extract below of a very useful blog post by Irving Wladawsky-Berger, summarizing the state of play of blockchain today:
A few weeks ago I wrote about the current state of blockchain. In particular, I asked whether blockchain is ready to cross the chasm from its early adopters, - who are already involved with blockchain in one way or another, - to the considerably larger set of mainstream users who may be considering blockchain but are waiting for results and assurances before jumping in.
I explored this question by comparing blockchain today to the Internet in the early-mid 1990s, which is roughly when the Internet made its own transition from early adopters to mainstream users. My conclusion was that blockchain isn’t quite ready for this important transition. It’s still in its early adopters stage, - perhaps akin to the Internet in the late1980s. A lot is going on with blockchain, so much so that last year the World Economic Forum (WEF) named The Blockchain one of its Top Ten Emerging Technologies for 2016. But much remains to be done in key areas, including standards, applications and governance. Blockchain has the potential to make our digital infrastructures much more secure, efficient and trustworthy, but it will take time.
Let me briefly summarize the current state of blockchain.
Will blockchain have a profound long-term impact, - like the Internet, - on companies, industries and economies? I think it will, but, it’s too early to tell how big the impact will be and how long it will take.
In The Truth about Blockchain, an article published earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review, Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani wrote: “TCP/IP unlocked new economic value by dramatically lowering the cost of connections. Similarly, blockchain could dramatically reduce the cost of transactions. It has the potential to become the system of record for all transactions. If that happens, the economy will once again undergo a radical shift, as new, blockchain-based sources of influence and control emerge… Individuals, organizations, machines, and algorithms would freely transact and interact with one another with little friction.”
And, in a recent WEF report, Don and Alex Tapscott wrote: “We are now witnessing the rise of the internet of value. Like the first generation of the internet, this second generation promises to disrupt business models and transform industries… pulling us into a new era of openness, decentralization and global inclusion… However, this extraordinary technology may be stalled, sidetracked, captured or otherwise suboptimized depending on how all the stakeholders behave in stewarding this set of resources - i.e. how it is governed.”
Getting back to our original question, should your company get on the blockchain learning curve now or wait and run the risk of being left behind by more aggressive competitors? There is no easy answer. In the end, it all comes down to your leadership aspirations.
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