The back-and-forth tussle between open, public blockchains and closed, permissioned blockchains and distributed ledgers has been raging ever since “blockchain, not bitcoin” became a thing circa 2015.
Consortium systems gained momentum in 2015 and 2016 as companies of all sizes began dedicating resources to studying how the technology could complement or overhaul their existing business processes, but the initial coin offering boom of 2017 shifted interest back toward the permissionless realm.
Now, in the third quarter of 2018, with crypto markets in disarray and a preponderance of ICO companies yet to deliver the applications they ostensibly raised money for, the ground is fertile for a momentum shift back to the enterprise side.
A recent blockchain survey published by Deloitte, the consultancy, seems to support this line of thinking.
The results of its survey of more of than 1,000 business executives across seven countries drive home the points that what’s happening on the surface in crypto markets isn’t an indictment of the underlying technology, and that blockchain interest continues to grow within legacy institutions.
Individuals surveyed were senior executives from companies that generate more than $500M in annual revenue who both have an understanding of blockchain technology and their organizations’ blockchain investment plans.
While 39 percent of respondents reckoned that blockchain is “overhyped,” 74 percent note that that their respective organizations see a “compelling business case” for the technology, and 34 percent indicated that their company is currently undertaking blockchain development.
In addition, 43 percent of respondents said that blockchain exploration and development is one of their organization’s top five strategic priorities, with another 29 percent also identifying it as a lower ranking strategic priority.
29 percent noted that their organization is already a participant in a blockchain consortium, such as R3 or Hyperledger, alongside competitors. Another 45 percent indicated that they are likely to join one soon and 13 percent said they are considering forming one of their own.
A full 78 percent said that their company stands to “lose competitive advantage” if they do not eventually adopt blockchain in some form.
Indications are also strong that many in the executive community sees blockchain as a game-changing technological innovation and not just a specialized database tool for smoothing out existing business processes.
While 32 percent of respondents cited “greater speed” and 16 percent noted “lower costs” as major advantages of blockchain, 28 percent argued that “new business models” are the key breakthrough.
“This is a business model change where companies need to focus on more than just a solid proof of concept for implementation,” the report emphasizes, continuing:
“Because blockchain, when properly implemented, should fundamentally change how a business operates, it impacts the entire organization, creating new tax and cyber implications along with a variety of governance and regulatory issues that need to be addressed.”
Still, a key impediment remains the dearth of real world use cases that can be pointed to to offset the hype being circulated in crypto and blockchain echo chambers and spilling over into the public conscience.
“The problem, respondents say, is that for all the talk about blockchain’s promise, there are very few active use cases they can currently employ to advance their beliefs,” the report states. “As a result, a certain ‘blockchain fatigue’ is beginning to set in among those who feel its potential has been overcommunicated, while its real-world benefits remain elusive.”
While every organization has its own respective priorities and risk profile, ultimately, Deloitte concludes that the only wrong approach to blockchain is to ignore it altogether:
“In short, the only real mistake we believe organizations can make regarding blockchain right now is to do nothing.”