The magnitude of Blockchain’s disruption is felt across industries as its potential and actual use case has increasingly become a hot topic, even for non-Blockchain conventions like the annual RSA Conference where its identity is about security and intelligence technologies. In the recent RSA 2018 Conference held in San Francisco, Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) were among the premiere topics across enterprise security.
This year, the debate in Blockchain has progressed past adoption versus non-adoption as there are verifiable use cases out there that highlight Blockchain’s capability to be an enterprise foundational asset. Rather, the debate in Blockchain is now firmly set on making sense of the middle ground when it comes to the adoption rate of Blockchain based on the thin line between hesitances and scaling early adoption efforts to real business demands.
The Blockchain middle ground
The middle ground of Blockchain adoption was perfectly summarized by MIT professor and cryptographer, Ron Rivest during the Cryptographer’s Panel: “Blockchains are often viewed as security pixie dust,” he quotes. “If you add them to your application, they magically make it better.” The quote paints the picture of knowing Blockchain’s capability when engineered as a response case to unique or recurring problems of scalability while also dismissing the outright cliché of Blockchain praises that we’ve come across.
The Cryptographer panel was objective yet critical of Blockchain. In dismissing the mythological hype of Blockchain and bringing it down to the level of grasp similar to existing foundational technologies, Moxie Marlinspike of Signal stated that scaling down Blockchain’s fundamental use in order to later scale up with real demands on data, access and identity, is an ideal staging ground for innovation.
Despite the difference of opinions, the general consensus on Blockchain during the RSA 2018 conference was about making sense of the technology rather than dismissing or over-selling it without boundaries: “Blockchain is not a magic bullet for the enterprise but it can be a ground-breaking foundational technology when engineered to scale.”
Interesting Statistics about Blockchain Production
While there are many reported use cases of Blockchain, that market is based on the early adopters. Now, observers are focusing more on the relevant facts and statistics based on industrial production of Blockchain:
- Juniper Research – From July 2017, 6 of 10 enterprises had either deployed or planned a deployment date in late 2018.
- 451 Group:
- 28 percent of organizations are testing Blockchain
- 20 percent of organizations are in the discovery / evaluation phase.
- 4 percent of organizations are testing or piloting Blockchain
- 2 percent of organizations are in testing or developing Blockchain
- Juniper Research – 67 percent of enterprises that have invested in Blockchain had already spent over $100,000 by end of 2016 and 91 percent had planned to spend budgets similar in 2017.
CIOs on Enterprise Blockchain
Despite the abundance of qualifying studies and measurable results that were disclosed by successful use cases, many still see Blockchain as a gamble for enterprises. When we differentiate “gambling” from “calculated risks” in the thin line between adoption and non-adoption, late Blockchain adopters can use the success metrics of early adopters as a cautionary guideline as keen insight on understanding Blockchain’s fundamental capabilities to answer fundamental problems to validate the need for a Blockchain enabled platform.
During the panel “Foundations of Bitcoin, Blockchain and Smart Contracts,” Chain software engineer Cathie Yun highlighted the considerations for Blockchain based on the following factors:
- Trust model
In validating the variables mentioned above, enterprises must determine the trust levels between all participants and that determines the qualities of the system administration. Identity and Confidentiality also impact the ecosystem of the trust model.
Blockchain as an Enterprise Foundation
As we begin to understand the middle ground for Blockchain and its rationalization as a middle ground between adopters and non-adopters, we can see the pitfalls of dismissing it as a hyped technology and overselling it as a hyped technology.
In being purely dismissive of Blockchain for enterprise use, it warrants the scenarios of the enterprise operating in an obsolete foundational technology versus modern enterprises. It is as bad as being overzealous in Blockchain and rushing its production without any sustainable basis.
In rationalizing Blockchain, enterprise leaders are urged to understand its core technology to determine which type of Blockchain and its innate Distributed Ledger Technology that are ideal for the enterprise basing on fundamental need.
When we compare RSA’s theme of security and intelligence to combat threats, it paints the real world scenario of existing security technologies against emerging, more-sophisticated threats where existing technology must scale to respond against threats of today and in the foreseeable future. The same theme applies to Blockchain where it’s capability as a foundational technology for enterprise use is determined by grasping the challenges posed by business demands of today and tomorrow, in order to build a Blockchain system that scales with enterprise demand.