Developing a Killer Blockchain App
2017 is forecasted to be the tipping point year for Blockchain technology in enterprise environments.
To recap a brief history, Blockchain is a successful combination of many existing technologies which began to gain widespread adoption with the success of Bitcoin (Released in 2009, and arguably the first killer app of Blockchain) which saw a large increase in traction stemming from a price increase of over 800% in 2013 before dipping back down.
This gave rise to the first large wave of Bitcoin start-ups which raised over half a billion dollars from leading venture capital funds and renowned investors by the end of 2014. Many of these companies were focused around trading platforms, security, accessibility, and utility apps.
With that wave of success a lot of eyes in the financial sector turned towards the technology to start research and development to see if it could be applied to their benefit to increase profits through back-office efficiencies and killer applications that could provide new revenue streams.
Quickly many leading innovators in the Fintech sector and large financial institutions identified the potential while also identifying roadblocks to adoption mainly being performance, scalability, and regulatory concerns.
This gave birth to a trend away from Bitcoin start-ups into Blockchain specific companies that focused on Platforms (Iaas, PaaS, BaaS). Through this we have seen the rise of specific Blockchain technology platforms that solved many of the performance and scalability concerns to prepare Blockchain technology for enterprise production. These gave birth to the Decentralized Application Platform (Ethereum), Smart Contract technology (Eris, Ethereum, Counterparty), the enterprise blockchain database (BigchainDB), and many more. Collectively the Blockchain industry has raised over $1.3 billiion in investments to date effectively making it larger than the .COM boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
So where is Blockchain headed? Encrypted Labs forecasts that 2016 will remain largely focused on the further development of these Blockchain infrastructure as a service platforms and companies will continue fine tuning their PoCs to test and deploy in these environments.
2017 will begin when enterprises begin integrating these applications in large test environments and some smaller real-world applications. Fintech companies will begin leveraging this Blockchain infrastructure technology to developer enterprise caliber applications off of them and niche-market releases will begin towards Q3. Keep in mind that many industry experts predict that Blockchain’s full effects may not be largely felt until roughly 2025. In the 8 year period between initial deployments and projected widespread adoption, there is virtually no ceiling as to the capabilities. Technologies will rise and fall with the best being integrated into financial systems to rewire their infrastructure as we know it. Overall it is something that is no longer theoretical and is happening so it is at a stage that cannot be ignored.
How do you create a killer app? Well, Blockchain is a back and middle office technology so to effectively create a “killer” application and potentially the next tech unicorn, the non-tech end users (customers) will have limited to no idea that the application is run off Blockchain technology. Think of the cloud, payment networks, and other related technologies. End users have no idea how they work, they just love the ease of use, functionality, and problems they solve. So there will be a shift behind marketing Blockchain from highly technical to what it solves with a heavy focus on ease of use and ease of understanding. Often the most successful tech companies solve a basic problem or make life easier for end users in a very simple fashion such as facebook, dropbox, uber, and many more.
We have seen this happen in the Bitcoin industry as it has matured. A great example is Bitwage. It uses Blockchain/Bitcoin on the back-end to settle international payments in a more efficient and cost-effective manner than traditional remittance and payroll systems so cost savings are highly favorable to users. At the same time users never have to touch Bitcoin, understand how it works, or learn how to use a new platform as it functions nearly identical to current payroll and remittance platforms. The same will occur with Blockchain. Some companies worried that Blockchain could disrupt their business model are actively exploring Blockchain integrations that will enable them to remain competitive and relevant over the next decade while those that are not will be pushed out of the market by competitors who successfully leveraged the tech and disruptive start-ups who identify market opportunities in sectors hesitant to innovate.
If you are new to the Blockchain ecosystem do not be afraid to collaborate with industry specialists, experiment, and allocate an R&D budget if possible.