Designed to disintermediate and disrupt
While Gartner advises caution today, analysts see massive opportunity for distributed ledgers tomorrow. CIOs should build a list of potential use cases for their own industry to discuss with the CEO.
In March this year, analysts documented 130 different use cases for blockchain across different industries, and the number is growing rapidly. Gartner predicts that by 2022, an innovative business built on a blockchain will be worth $10 billion. Applications of the technology to date include:
- A credentialing system between universities to provide proof of course completion and grades
- A registry for identification of diamonds where each stone’s cut, color, clarity and carat is loaded into a ledger to prevent fraud
- Tracking the origin of fresh produce like beef or milk in China
- A land title system providing proof of ownership in emerging markets
“It is important to note that these are proof of concepts or trials, not mission-critical, implemented or tested solutions that people can use today,” Mr. Furlonger said. “Bitcoin is still the only working, proven blockchain.”
Square peg, round hole
Mr. Furlonger pointed out that many of the solutions being developed using blockchain technology could be done using existing, tested and proven systems such as relational databases hosted in a cloud. “Many of the examples Gartner is seeing we would class as ‘blockchain washing’ – the technology label has been stuck in front of an existing product solution or service,” Mr. Furlonger said.
Read More: The CIO’s Guide to Blockchain
Gartner believes that through 2018, 85 percent of blockchain-named projects will deliver business value without using a blockchain.
A slow evolution of business models
Mr. Furlonger said he is not convinced that society is ready for self-regulation and the potential for criminal misuse of the technology. “We may all jump on board with cryptocurrencies and other blockchain enabled services, or we could have a backlash. Governments could step in and try to exercise some control. More likely, there will be a kind of ‘arctic slide’ where people will become used to one application of the technology and become increasingly comfortable with it.” “I do believe that blockchain is going to fundamentally change the society in which we live. Not tomorrow but within our lifetime,” said Mr. Furlonger.