For the past few years Blockchain had transformed itself from mere a Buzzword for selling Cryptocurrencies to truly innovative technology for transforming enterprise to the digital world. The blockchain is a real innovation that is changing not just the enterprises but also governments across the globe leading the Industrial Revolution 4.0 from the front. The world economy was in stagnation in the past 15+ years majorly due to the deprived innovation and domination of mediocrity. Enterprises became too arrogant with flooded capital infusion and almost STATIC supply chain model. Everything was configured to favor big businesses by eliminating small business from the supply chain. This was helped by the factors as such Centralized Master Data, Centralized Authentication, Centralized Computing, Centralized Trust and so on. The primary reason for these big businesses to survive and thrive was that the last innovation, the "Internet" itself is centrally controlled and was holding the fort for them. Now with the Blockchain and its sibling "Internet of things," the most awaited next innovation started happening. While there can be many views and questions about why and how Blockchain is Innovation, one thing everyone agrees that Blockchain already started disrupting businesses. Isn't that alone good enough to accept Blockchain as an Innovation? Yes, it is. However, Enterprises, Medium to Large are having a Xenophobia on blockchain is the same way many of them had about "Internet" and "dot-com" in the 90s. Anyone who was active in the business world back in the 90s would agree that those who failed to embrace the innovation for growth had gone belly-up and vanished. Those who agree accepted the "change" and developed transformational capabilities to adapt to the change had beautifully inherited the "Internet World" with multi-fold growth.
So, Why is this Xenophobia about Blockchain? And how the enterprises should get cured out of it to avoid disruption?
To get some answers lets first go to the fundamentals of any Xenophobia. Phobia in greek is "Fear." And Xenophobia is an irrational fear. That means you fear of unknown without any comprehensive rational causes. The causes of any Xenophobia are 1. Fear of Unknown foreign entity/technology/process 2. Fear of Migration of business & technology 3. Fear of losing current business & technology control 4. Techno-Business Centrism. Xenophobia is a “discriminatory potential” which is activated when ideology, such as "techno-business centrism," is connected to a sense of threat on a group or Enterprise level. Business leaders tend to believe their system is much superior to any other system out there and they don't need to adopt a change. Sometimes "Technology Xenophobia" is often associated with times of economic and political situation of the Enterprise concerning the Market. Solutions to Blockchain Xenophobia is to address all these components that contributed to it in the first place.
Fear of Unknown is the principal component. As quoted by Zig Ziglar, "The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain." So, one cannot adapt to a newer innovation for growth unless the major phobia is eradicated. Lets first take the fear of unknown. Yes, truly blockchain is an "unknown" for most people, not from business but also from the technology world. Partly it is because the last almost two decades of business & technology leaders were brainwashed by the Monopoly tech giants to follow their ecosystem than to create their ecosystem.
The tech giants designed ecosystem of-course is centralized around "Monolithic Master Data", "Database", "Configuration Oriented Functional Systems", "www" controlled through the domain management, Infrastructure controlled under a Monolithic cloud, "HTTP" based transport, "Star computer network with central communication hub", Static Supply Chain business network etc. Every client is conditioned to think that anything they do out of the ecosystem will lead to colossal destruction. While the belief of these thoughts seemed to be rational, in reality, they are irrational as they never been validated against the facts. These were told to them through a series of education over decades, and it is complicated to unlearn. Blockchain, in essence, is not a change that you can or should resist. The blockchain is only a tip of the Iceberg. There is more to come. The underlying transport and network protocol of the Internet are now under disruption by forcing them to be decentralized and distributed. There will be more and more private, and public networks not controlled by central authorities are coming to the world. Bitcoin kind of cryptocurrency networks is just one use case of millions of use-cases emerging around the world. So, it is not about fear of losing with Blockchain. The Enterprises actually should "FEAR" for losing their market share without adapting to these changes.
The blockchain is not a Choice for your business; it is the MUST for an Enterprise because it is the foundational business network protocol change on which the enterprise components were built and running.
For example; Can you run a ship on the Ocean when it is built to run on the river? There are so many assumptions and design decisions made when your organizational Boat was built. For example, you might have designed it to sail on a river. And for a while the sailing was smooth. But when the ship had to enter an ocean, you are going through a platform issue on which the boat is running. If your boat is not designed for adaptability to the sea; it will merely struggle and eventually run into the risk of sinking. This precisely is the situation of your business, and the new generation business networks lead by blockchain. The good news is that Blockchain and the new generation distributed systems comes with a lot of "HOPE" for the enterprises not only to survive but grow multi-fold. So, the real fear the enterprises should have is fear of losing market share without embracing distributed computing and distributed ledger technologies driven by Autonomous consensus, Artificial Intelligence & Smart contracts. Although they all come under one common name "Blockchain," each one of these technologies is unique and brings their value. A secret that most of the Enterprise leaders don't know if you can implement each one of these technologies in your ecosystem independently, yes, you don't need distributed Ledger(the blockchain core) to implement consensus or smart contracts. There are many variances in the technology implementations. Software giants like Microsoft through their Coco framework, Workbench etc make this happen. There are many upcoming software platforms like digiBlitz had created technologies off-chain and near-chain that extracts the power of Blockchain and makes it available in a perfect blend for the Enterprise customers. It is driven by Enterprise digital Twin technology implemented on robust EA lifecycle methodologies.
Technology & Process Migration are always challenging for any transformational change. Blockchain poses a much higher migration fear in the minds of the customers as they need to deal with not just application migration but also the network and infrastructure migration. On top of it, the learning curve is steeper, broader and more profound. For the first time in decades, the projects teams are forced to deal with protocols, algorithms, mathematical modeling, etc. But the good news is that most of these aspects are needed at the public blockchain where a complete autonomous business is a driver. This is the misconception about Blockchain that Enterprise customers should get cleared off.
Enterprise Blockchain migration is driven by "The Need for provenance of records", "The Need for decentralization", "The Need for Trust-Less" systems, "Need for Tokenization of Assets", "The need for Single Ledger of Information", "The need for Cryptographically secured environment", both individually and collectively.
Not all the projects need to have "distributed Ledger" and not all the projects need to have Smart Contracts or Autonomous consensus. There are many initiatives like "Enterprise Ethereum Alliance" are created to address the migration need for the enterprises. Moreover, like how the underlying protocol of the internet is guaranteed, the transport and PtoP algorithms are guaranteed and well stabilized through the latest implementations of Blockchain codes. So, the paranoia about Blockchain migration is unnecessary.
Fear of Losing Business control is the next major problem enterprise leaders, and employees fear when some transformation entrusted to them. The worry for leaders is losing current market share, fear of upper management is losing control of budget and operational methods, and the concern of middle-management is fear of losing people and current project controls. Whatever the levels of anxiety, the simple answer to Blockchain based initiatives is "Everyone has something to gain but nothing to lose." This might sound too good to be true, but let me substantiate my claim through the following:
1. First of all, Blockchain is an inevitable market innovation. It is the backbone for every market, open or private; it is disrupting the supply chains together with the "Internet of Things". For example, transport alliances like BiTA are making a huge progress is accommodating the connected vehicles to supply chain for track-trace, provenance of delivery, cold-chain, re-routing of packages etc.
Newer markets are emerging out of "Shared Economy" leading to the massive need for decentralized procurement, and Blockchain and non-cryptocurrency based digital assets drive fractional trade.
2. The financial operations models of Blockchain for the enterprise should not be confused with the open world crypto driven public chains. The public blockchain networks force the customers to pay for the miners for transaction processing and validations(the gas). But in private and consortium blockchains this is completely dismantled and replaced by enterprise controlled transaction processing and consensus. The platform-like digiBlitz had that done on behalf of the customers to get onboard quickly without wasting the resources, cost and time.
3. It is a reasonable fear that the operational and process implementation models for Blockchain initiatives can be very complicated. Like any new technological innovation, the PMO and other Engineering groups can quickly get worried about the implementation models and control/delivery mechanism. Systems Integrations and Service Providers are continually learning the processes to help the clients through Pilots, the center of excellence, strategic practice groups, Testbeds through industry alliances, etc. digiBlitz together with SI partners had identified Blockchain as the Big Bet for its 2018-19 and has established the Internal practice groups for Blockchain to help clients to sail through this problem.
Techno-Business Centrism is one of the worst things that can happen to an Enterprise. The philosophy "Change is the only Constant" holds true for the business and be the guiding principle to success. Enterprise leaders should drop the egoistic idea that their business or technology ecosystem is superior to the others and does not need a change. Every business and technology goes through constant change influenced by both market and consumer ecosystems. Changes are brought by International trade models, socio-political climate, Scientific Innovations, catastrophic disruptions, etc. So, the business should keep updating & upgrading themselves by actively listening and adapting to these external conditions.
Business Centrism is a disease
As Eric Hoffer says, "In times of change learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists".
In my career expanding over two decades, I have seen companies claiming that their systems are superior but keep employing too many people to manage and maintain them. Like any other business, they also always get into production and delivery issues. So, it is evident that no system is superior and centrism is a killer of any business progress. Blockchain not necessarily makes your business or technology superior or help you solve your current business/technology problem. But what blockchain can do is prepare and transform your company for the newly inherited earth of decentralized, trust-less, fractionalized assets driven markets.
Final words, blockchain is only the beginning of a new era of systems and business networks driven by newer business models and market economies. Every enterprise should take at-least a lead-frog approach to Blockchain by running a Pilot or POC project. Every Technology Solutions or Services company should be ready with fewer MVP templates for specific industry verticals of their expertise. We are moving from Stone age to Bronze age of business; that does not mean everything must be turned to bronze, but you should learn to use the innovation to run the systems better than done through stone. Your foundational platform, the tools you use, the network you operate on, the cloud infrastructure that you run on, everything will be one or the other way transform to decentralized, trust-less, autonomous, smart contract driven components. So, it's your choice to embrace and adopt the change for yourself and make digital transformation planning through blockchain or lose your current market share.
Suresh Kannan, Founder & Chief Architect - digiBlitz. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;