Blockchain won’t transform your industry (yet). Why should you still care?

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Buzzword: a word, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context.

 

Daniel Cannon
Daniel Cannon

Blockchain is a buzzword right now, let’s face it. Last year, newly named Long Blockchain Corp (previously Long Island Iced Tea Corp.) saw share prices rise 289% after simply adding the word to their name!

But beyond the hype, Blockchain really has huge potential to improve how many industries work particularly through adding greater transparency where it’s needed, without compromising privacy. It is this quality that should be the focus to drive greater blockchain adoption, not the broad-brush revolutionary or efficiency gains that are often cited.

The revolutionary value of blockchain is really seen when it’s done at scale and proving it at small scale is challenging (we will soon explore in our blogs how successful pilots can be achieved). Aside from that, there’s the question from many clients of why ‘blockchain is the better answer than existing or longer-standing solutions’. Without going into the technical benefits and drawbacks of blockchain, for me, the biggest benefit of blockchain in the shorter term is the transparency it can provide. A focus on this, rather than simply the ability to transform operating processes is the key to driving broader use cases, ones that will add value for companies in a number of ways in the short term.

Transparency and traceability (built on secure foundations) are the added value that makes blockchain stand out from other solutions. Blockchain proponents have been questioned for the idea that it’s emerged as a technology, without having the real solution in mind. That’s the paradox of blockchain, it has all the potential, and seemingly endless use cases, but without a focus there’s been limited transformation. Focusing on something that can ‘turn an industry upside down’ justifiably entrenches people in existing ways. However, focusing on the value that the technology can deliver immediately, as a secure and reliable way to ensure traceability, positions blockchain as a clear step forward.

In fact, when the focus is on transparency and traceability we can see some of the greatest benefits of blockchain. Take the concept of supply chain traceability as an example. There’s many challenges with supply chains across industries, but one that’s common is the importance of traceability. Currently there are limits to what level of confidence you can have over the integrity of the process from start to finish. There’s countless examples of brand damage through supply chain issues and full traceability will give all parties, and importantly the consumer, confidence that a product is sourced responsibly. A great example of the value of blockchain improving supply traceability is Provenance’s project using blockchain to track tuna from fisherman to supermarket. In an industry where supply can be impacted by fraud and even slavery, this is a huge step forward. Along with the brand value from this, it added £17m to the brand’s sales (more details here and here). .

Let’s stop focusing on blockchain being revolutionary. Blockchain might fundamentally change your industry, it might not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that blockchain can help us to progress: it can add value to your business being one of the most effective, efficient and secure ways of ensuring traceability and transparency. It offers a way for you to operate in a more open and transparent way, adding increasing value to your customers.

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