It’s a cliché, but true– data is the new oil. That’s one of the many takeaways from a 2018 survey conducted by New Vantage Partners. C-level executives at almost 60 firms (including giants such as Morgan Stanley, GlaxoSmithKline, and IBM) were asked about their views on Big Data. Over 97% of respondents reported deploying Big Data or AI solutions to achieve objectives such as improved analytics and decision-making, cost reduction, and shorter time to market.
Fortune 1000 companies are not the only ones taking advantage of savvy data deployment. Small businesses are also using databases to manage inventory and cash flow, market to customers, and carry out countless other tasks.
With most businesses reliant on databases, staying ahead of the data-technology curve has become a central issue for executives. According to the New Vantage study, almost 80% of executives surveyed expressed concern about disruption or displacement from competitors due to data-technology advantages. And well over half identified inability to compete on data, lack of agility, and data-driven competitors as the primary data-related threats to their organization.
The promise of blockchain
Most people don’t think of data management when they hear the word “blockchain.” The word tends to evoke cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin’s attention-grabbing price swings. However, blockchain technology is currently being adopted at all levels of the business environment.
Blockchain solutions are showing up in the fields of utilities, healthcare, payments, supply-chain management, government, agriculture, and more. A mid-2018 PwC survey found that fully 84% of responding companies actively used blockchain, in areas such as research programs and live deployment.
That’s why investment in the field is still at an all-time high by private investment funds like the New Global Capital Investor Fund, founded in 2017 and still one of the largest institutional investors of blockchain technologies. They have been a key contributor to a number of leading projects including Zilliqa, Ontology, NKN, Oasis, Mainframe, Certik, Bluzelle, and Iotex.
Roger Lim, Founding Partner at NGC said, “We’ve been concentrating on low hanging fruits in blockchain for a while, anyone who can potentially solve a problem. But now we’re interested to hear from good projects where the total metrics make sense, the team makes sense and they have a great strategy.”
Right now, forty per cent of investment in blockchain by NGC is heading to Greater China where blockchain is booming, but they are still open to all with a good idea. Open to lending from as little as $200,000 to $10million, the company wants to spread the word that there are still great funding opportunities out there. Lim added, “We go off to where the talent is, not just because it’s in Silicon Valley, we don’t portion off our funds. We look globally and we go after the talent.”
Profile rising fast, but not enough
Despite the interest of investors, blockchain is still relatively young in the mainstream market and actual deployment of blockchain solutions is not yet widespread. This relatively young technology has come a long way since its inception in 2008, but only about a quarter of the companies PwC surveyed had up-and-running blockchain projects.
Though blockchain’s profile is rising fast, the technical expertise needed to create blockchain platforms and smart contracts is still hard to come by in enterprise business settings. Travis Reeder, CTO of blockchain firm GoChain, sees this lack of expertise as a significant obstacle.
He said, “If you’re an IBM or a JP Morgan, you might have the resources to develop the kind of in-house expertise needed to compete with the startups going after your industry in Silicon Valley. But there’s a huge group of companies who can’t just set up a dedicated blockchain division. These businesses understand what blockchain could do for them, but don’t have access to the tools and knowledge they need to build actual solutions. A lot of companies encounter the related problem that there are many options to choose from, but they don’t know which to choose or where to start.”
Now Reeder hopes to remove obstacles to participation in the blockchain revolution by investing in widespread knowledge. They offer partner companies blockchain-based training, workshops, platform design, and other services. Their aim is to provide the human capital that is as essential to the technology’s success as the technical infrastructure. These cost-effective consulting services are popular for companies to develop and maintain tailor-made blockchain business strategies and tools. With their own public blockchain that anyone can use to build smart contracts and applications, as well as GoChain private installation, it allows for all possibilities.
Still, a few common concerns when it comes to blockchain are slow transactions and vast amounts of energy needed, but with 1300 transactions per second GoChain is certainly holding its own against the big guns. It’s 100 times faster than Ethereum for example.
A market for loans
And while the money is flowing freely into the blockchain, there are also possibilities to dole it out from firms such as Forest Park Advisors. They are creating the first tradeable syndicated loan market via security token issuances. The firm is the brainchild of Steve Shaw, investment manager at Clear Harbor Asset Management, who was previously a managing director at Credit Suisse First Boston, co-heading the firm’s trading and distribution franchise. Steve originated some of the earliest Credit Default Swaps at Credit Suisse product prior to the recession. Combined with the rest of the team, Forest Park Advisors has over 60 years of Wall Street experience and are intent on using their decades of experience to issue the first generation of real estate backed structured debt security tokens. With up to $200million for a single loan, this is a wealthy market.
If the public could be convinced, then there are plenty of opportunities to spread the wealth.