As the blockchain hype continues to rise, the hard work simply continues
Blockchain is one of the most talked about topics in tech, some promising the world and some claiming it is just another fad. Ben Lowe takes time out to give his view on why some companies are ignoring the hype, good or bad, and simply getting on with developing real solutions to real problems in this emerging space.
I thought I’d take a minute to voice my thoughts from numerous client meetings, workshops and deployment sessions I’ve hosted over the last few weeks as we here at Gospel Technology continue to engage with some of the most forward thinking global clients a fast-growing technology business could wish for.
There are two distinct themes developing in this space (arguably one of the most exciting and talked about in recent times) as it continues to gain vast momentum across all industries.
1) The hype is just that, a hype with no substance.
2) That blockchain will change the world.
Both of these views are at extremes in their own unique way and the reality is everybody is looking for something in between; something tangible and real.
The former view generally accepts that it is just a fad and that it won’t have an impact on today’s business models as today’s technology is generally satisfactory – if it isn’t broken why fix it?
However, the reality of today’s operational architectures and approaches are very different – in many cases they’re simply no longer fit for purpose (take the example of Curry’s / PC world) , especially as we continue moving into the connected world where the need to share data only accelerates.
The fact is the drive to collaborate will challenge the need to follow protocols and therefore we continue to expose sensitive information over extremely insecure communication methods, protected by standalone and unaligned cyber security products.
“It’s a war – and we’re losing this cyberwar” – Larry Ellison
Some of the innovative technologies which have brought us to this point in time have been phenomenal and huge businesses, industries and governments have been built upon some of them. They have given you and me tremendous amounts of value; from on-line shopping, to car buying and being able to be seen by a GP remotely through your mobile, plus all the life hacks that brings. So, the drive for more and more services based around data is set to continue, because that’s what we as individuals expect.
However, the reality is that every client I meet is now petrified (and justifiably so) of losing any type of data – be it their own employee data, their clients data or their business-critical IP (great paper by Avanade on the subject here). It’s not just about losing data, it’s about the financial, operational and personal impact to the business, shareholders and their customers.
Whatever your view, blockchain is now generally accepted as a legitimate technology (good Deloitte paper here) Business leaders can no longer ignore it. However, time after time, we see failed projects which have stalled for any number of reasons. So how do you avoid creating chaff instead of wheat? Well, blockchain projects seem to get categorised into one of the following 3 areas:
1). Bad idea in the first place – These are quickly vanishing as the trough of disillusionment hits hard. The experiments in simply finding a use for blockchain are ending, and businesses are going back to the drawing board and starting again (ironically, the going back usually means diving straight into option 3!)
2). Creating just another silo – The promise of decentralised data is such an important goal but unfortunately, the way the majority of blockchain tools have been set up is to be effectively independent of any other systems or process
3). “The Manual Approach” – Never ending consultancy days! – Once the first batch is used, you need more! This approach is common amongst many blockchain projects where a consultancy firm that sees this as a new revenue stream but hasn’t really done their research has been engaged to provide professional services days to build something (whatever that something is) from scratch. Unfortunately, this approach presents many challenges such as – is there documentation being created? Who will maintain the solution once the days run out? Who will secure it? Who will provide support for it?
Leaping across the chasm
Our view is that unless there is a genuine business pain to fix, it’s not a project worth getting involved in. The days of running blockchain experiments to kick the tyres are numbered, especially where they are promoting another silo operation. We do think it’s great people are running these projects for educational purposes, but we believe the impact of this technology is so important that the real achievable value to businesses will be in the alignment and evolution of existing systems, data and processes to increase productivity, data security and cut out costs. That is where the real wheat exists, if you like.
Our core principles for the Gospel platform has been to put total trust and security into business data. This means having a secure data layer where data is only ever exposed to the right person or system for the right reason
The point of this blog isn’t to punt our solution (as much as we do love doing that!!) but more to highlight our experience and why our clients are realising that blockchain is a part of the puzzle, not the puzzle itself.
We use the premise of distributed ledger aka blockchain as a core component (~20%) of our platform but the reality of a solution which will scale to dominate this market needs to be; familiar, work with existing systems and leverage existing skill sets within enterprise IT and business teams.
So, back to work on solving those real business issues where the wheat lies and worrying less about the hype.
Ben Lowe is Gospel’s Enterprise Sales Director.