Although it was Bitcoin that planted its flag on the blockchain moon, early blockchain adopters have arrived and are developing their own settlements of transactional applications. Blockchain ecosystems are evolving in the form of collaboration, new business models and even self-disruption.
The data in IBM’s report Closer Together comes from a worldwide pool of 2,965 C-suite executives from over 80 countries and 20 industries. We focus specifically on what IBM calls the ‘explorers’ who make up an average 8 percent of all surveyed industries. They are the ones already experimenting with, piloting or implementing blockchains, and inevitably, paving the way for future blockchain users.
Tracking for trust
Explorers look to use the blockchain certainties of trust and transparency to support their corporate strategies. Sixty-three percent top the list in wanting to increase transactional transparency, followed closely by 61 percent wanting to ensure data quality and accuracy. The report describes Walmart’s pilot program to trace pork across the supply chain, capturing data such as storage temperatures and expiration dates. A beneficial example of using blockchain for quality assurance and preventing illness from contaminated food. Firms can improve reliability, and ultimately trust, by establishing a traceable audit trail, improving processes and partner hand-offs amongst other things.
New ways of working
Eight in ten explorers are investing in blockchain technology to develop new business models or responding to shifts in profit pools. “Blockchain could replace the centralized business model that most companies follow today,” said a Chief Marketing Officer in the retail industry. Though potentially disrupting their own revenue streams and cannibalizing their business, persistent explorers look to use blockchain as a springboard to wholesale reinvention.
Monetizing and capitalizing
Monetizing and capitalizing were the top drivers of change for explorers, with six in ten saying that alternative payment options and the sharing economy would most influence their strategic direction. Explorers noted they could support micro-payments, skip intermediary fees and solve global licensing and royalty challenges by putting all kinds of media into the direct control of its creators.
“One CMO in electronics from Indonesia observed that blockchain technology could support its efforts to monetize data itself, an asset it had as yet been unable to commercialize,” the report stated.
Firms are looking to make the most of a democratised sharing economy, with hospitals considering how to share expensive equipment like a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, while a Hong Kong CEO in the insurance industry noted that customers could “opt for a peer-to-peer style policy” rather than going straight to an insurer to get their vehicles covered.
The power of peers
Eight in ten explorers admitted they weren’t accustomed to collaborating, while six in ten explorer chief information officers (CIOs) admit they aren’t yet good at building such connecting platforms. Nevertheless, sixty-six percent of explorers are experimenting with the platform model, forming new forms of value by connecting people, resources and organizations in an interactive ecosystem.
The report explains that as more organizations move to platform business models, the need for open collaboration will only intensify, adding “Blockchains can support it. Algorithms and bots can automate it. But only live human beings ready to discard entrenched beliefs can make it happen.”
Crucial to this open collaboration is the industry consortia, the ‘safe zones’ for competitor meet-ups, which seven in ten explorers perceive important to their blockchain projects. The report cites an estimated 100+ blockchain consortia existing today, breeding a testing ground to navigate the possibilities and to potentially come to agreement on standards.
Although a long way off, the possibility of obsolete intermediaries, a democratised sharing economy and a culture of co-opetitions are placing these explorers at the helm of innovation in a blockchain nation.
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