The Second Shift: Blockchain is Back for Even Further Disruption

By Special Guest
George Achillias, Director of Strategy
August 11, 2016

Since the early ‘90s, most industries have evolved organically. They have grown by using new technologies and by gathering knowledge and intelligence, as there was an increasing need for good services on a global scale. This resulted in an enormous amount of complexity and scale in order to be able to serve and deliver products and services on a global scale.

The enormous burden of this complexity created fortresses of policies and procedures. But it also stifled the creation of new business models, competition and innovation by creating almost inextricably bound partners and customers. Every industry, from banking and finance, to healthcare, to education, has been shackled by ways of doing business that ended up baked into the industry like the marbleized fat in a lump of ground beef. This approach served the industry giants exceptionally well since it made entering their markets, and threatening their leadership, nearly impossible without significant capital investment from the outset.

At the same time, it created a well-oiled mechanism of aggregators, third parties and regulators who were responsible for not only keeping the world aligned to what regulations required, but also making sure that things would work in certain ways. They needed to be able to address the interests of each side involved on any kind of transaction.

That was also part of the well-mapped step based linear approach to everything. This mechanism was good enough to make things work, operate, function and, most importantly, secure that a promise or a deal in such a complex environment would be kept.

Nowadays, things move quickly from being non-linear to agile, context-driven, transactions-led situations. Connectivity helps that and creates an ecosystem that can support interactions without the need for any third parties to be involved. Blockchain, and how we are going to use it, is about re-writing the way synapses happen across various elements of the ecosystem. 

Blockchain has revolutionized many industries— and is poised to do so again. We’ve seen it happen to smartphones, the cloud and digital disruption, with the tech industry itself being among the first disrupted. Now proponents say it’s time to prepare for blockchain’s second shift: from something with greater control but little transparency, to something extremely decentralized and highly transparent.

Blockchain is triggering a massive wave of change in the technology industry—and many others—because the technology records transactions in a way that enables it to automate trusted activities among digitally-networked peers.

Ushering in a new era of doing business

Should it succeed the way inventors, entrepreneurs, or large institutions are envisioning, blockchain technology has the potential to streamline and accelerate business processes, drive the efficiency of old business models to new levels, allow us to create new business sectors and ways to exchange services and exchange, increase cybersecurity, and reduce or eliminate the roles of trusted centralized authorities. As a result, our ways of doing business will completely take on a new shape.

Blockchain will change how we build the infrastructure that supports our interactions, our expectations from software, and the toolset we have available to us. Legacy infrastructures will be abandoned and IT investments recalibrated. Currently, we transfer services and products on the cloud, but blockchain will help make this transition faster, much more efficient, cost effective, and more reliable and transparent than ever.

Fleshing out the IoT ecosystem

Blockchain?—?along with the cognitive computing – is becoming the critical factor that will drive the IoT evolution from countless connected devices to the creation of smart and self-serving ecosystems with emotional semantics.

Today, one of the most pressing issues surrounding IoT is cybersecurity. Blockchain might hold the answers to these security-related challenges, as it’s based on trust and the safety of the encrypted mechanism and algorithms.

Supporting the sharing economy

Virtually every industry in the global economy is undergoing digital disruption that will change the value of their asset bases and capabilities. This major shift – from an asset-owning model to one where multiple involved parties and partners have to cooperate in order to provide the service or the product – is what defines the fundamental value of the blockchain.

Blockchain’s secure and virtually tamper-proof distributed ledger technology and automation capability can provide the platforms needed to bring new sharing economy opportunities to market.

How will we prepare for blockchain’s full effect?

The sheer scale of blockchain’s effect only compares to the global shake-up made by the Internet 20 years ago. Regulations must be adapted, services redesigned, and the way we understand ecosystems must be redefined.

We can expect new ways to request, pay and get paid for services we need or provide. At any scale. Whether we’re talking about the digital economy, governance, or digital transformation, blockchain will only help enhance the way we structure the world around us ­– from physical to digital, and everything in between. 

Edited by Alicia Young
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