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With the recent collapse of FTX, investors are now concerned about the future of cryptocurrency. While some blame technology, we must remember that human beings are corruptible, not blockchain. The ledger-based technology that makes cryptocurrency possible is just as much of a breakthrough today as it was yesterday. Unfortunately, crashes like FTX play into fears that blockchain is more of a hype than a breakthrough. Won’t blockchain prove to be very useful in the enterprise once and for all?
As blockchain technology spawned a new way of thinking about money and wealth creation, many in the enterprise IT space began thinking about using blockchain technology to streamline business processes. For example, the global supply chain is still not working as well as it could. More than a decade later, corporate adoption of blockchain technology is creeping at best and stalling across the board at many of the world’s largest companies.
Blockchain is an emerging technology, meaning its full potential and practical applications are still under development. This creates hype because visionaries dream about the technology’s full potential, usually long before everyone sees its usefulness. This is the downside of emerging technology, as hype often masks reality.
Related: The Blockchain Is Everywhere: Here’s How To Understand It
Do you remember the cloud?
When cloud computing first came out, it was an emerging technology. Software developers rushed to develop SaaS applications where people bought a software service instead of installing the software on each workstation. Two decades later, the end point for the evolution of cloud computing revealed itself without fanfare. Cloud computing is behind the scenes and responsible for billions of data exchanges every day.
Everyone takes the cloud for granted these days. But go back 20 years, and the same hype sparked similar conversations about cloud computing. Go back half a century and you will find a hype about the use of computers in the enterprise. There was even excitement about driving instead of horses. The thing is, the hype is part of the adoption process that all emerging technology must go through to become behind-the-scenes technology.
Facts behind the hype
Blockchain technology and the movement of digital information across disparate locations are no exaggeration. Human civilization needs blockchain because it protects the process of moving digital data from one place to another in a physical realm that humans cannot see. Once a Bitcoin is transferred, the record of that transfer does not change.
What can change is the cybersecurity surrounding the transfer. Since software is a product of human creation, bugs will crop up when using the technology. Our society has to deal with this regularly. Consequently there will be bugs; that’s a fact.
Another crucial point is that blockchain technology should use other technology without hype, for example securing cloud computing SaaS applications using Wi-Fi. If every other part of the information exchange is secure, fixing the bugs is a process of elimination.
Related: How Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Can Revolutionize Businesses
Trailblazer vs trail follower
While some technologists consider blockchain overhyped, what does that mean and what should the enterprise do about it? Hype in the tech sphere is a cultural phenomenon driven by followers waiting for someone else to take the lead. Everyone knows that blockchain is the future, but only a few want to be pioneers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help if a pioneer fails. Business leaders are concerned and withdraw.
Provocatively, it collapses like FTX, which works to legitimize the hype for emerging technology. Spectacular collapses tend to take serious strides to make the technology live up to its hype. For the company, the hype focuses on supply chains as the world looks for a better way to manage global shipping.
Making blockchain work for the enterprise
Walmart and other major retail companies need blockchain technology or something similar, which is causing much of the hype. The global supply chain is not functioning as it could, so the enterprise needs blockchain, just as the healthcare sector needs caregivers due to a labor shortage. In this light, overhype is a motivator to take action or get in line and wait for the pioneer.
The company’s decision makers need motivating buy-in from software engineers with a pioneering mindset. In addition, the software applications must be heavily supported by robust security designed specifically to manage the movement of digital information from one point to another.
Related: How Blockchain Can Have a Positive Impact on Global Issues
Business adoption of blockchain is slow but not unexpected. Our modern society wants everything now. If the digital revolution has taught us anything, change is incremental. The best way to become familiar with using blockchain is to use it in small test programs. Once these smaller programs work as a system, scale the edits together and work out the bugs from there.
Patience and hype should get along better. However, pioneers in the tech world have to be patient, otherwise they risk falling victim to hypes. Focus on small steps that represent steps forward, such as leveraging an extensive global supply chain of which only a small portion is controlled by blockchain. Once the blockchain-backed supply chain section is up and running without bugs, take a step back and understand how it fits into the larger supply chain. The process and design systems required for step-by-step change pay no attention to hypes.