Whether you’re a startup seeking to capitalise on blockchain’s potential or an established business aiming to remain on the cutting edge of technology, it’s time to launch your blockchain-related projects into consumer markets. According to Cognizant’s recent global survey of 1,520 executives, businesses agree that they should take steps to aggressively invest in blockchain-based innovation. Yet, many will fail to do so due to a lack of knowledge and skills. For that reason, we’ve created a simple road map to guide you through the initial steps of building blockchain into your business.
A quick note before we begin: although blockchain has now been around for a decade, it’s matured over the past few years from a highly volatile, get-rich-quick technology into a sphere filled with developers, financial experts, and intrapreneurs who are in it for the long haul. Blockchain, rather than remaining a pipe dream for would-be millionaires, is now an integral aspect of many a Fortune 500 business’ innovation strategy.
According to Cognizant, it’s a necessary step for you to take to keep up with a rapidly changing digital world. To all the businesses that are still testing proofs-of-concept (POC) internally, the digital consultation company criticises the hesitation to launch solutions; instead, declaring that “the stakes of blockchain are too high for financial services firms to take a wait-and-see approach.”
That’s why we advocate starting small, building upon your capabilities, and testing in the real world to make the intimidating task of getting familiar with blockchain effortless.
Block By Block
Evaluate the benefits of decentralization
Before you start hiring expensive blockchain developers, ensure that blockchain is the best way to meet your business goals. While it does offer unprecedented advances in immutable records, transparency, and security, blockchain isn’t duct tape — you can’t simply stick it anywhere and expect it to hold your business together. Embark on the next steps only if decentralisation will help you achieve concrete goals in a way that a centralised system cannot.
Analyse blockchain use cases
According to Cognizant’s recent study, 53% of executives in cited their inability to understand blockchain ‘use cases’ as a major stumbling block, even though ‘use cases’ are simply potential situations in which the technology can be used. For blockchain, common examples range from supply-chain management to transparency in healthcare, and innovators constantly add new possibilities to the list.
If you’re interested in running through the full range of options, here’s a comprehensive list of 21 potential use cases.
Use cases help you determine what blockchain can and can’t do for your company. Yet, while it’s valuable to explore all the options, you eventually have to decide which use case is best suited to meet your business goals. To do so, it’s often useful to get advice from your IT department or reach out to a blockchain consulting group.
Select the appropriate platform
They say that choice breeds indecision, whether you’re shopping in a megamall or selecting a blockchain platform. Just as Bitcoin paved the way for a plethora of cryptocurrencies, there are now over 25 platforms on which you can build a blockchain-based business. How do you make a selection? Forget the until-death-do-you-part narrative when it comes to choosing your platform. This isn’t Romeo and Juliet; rather, businesses achieve success by avoiding commitment to a single network in the early stages of their blockchain pilots.
With this mindset, you leverage the unique strengths of each blockchain platform while distributing risk in the case that any single platform fails. For instance, one of Japan’s largest banks, Mizuho Financial Group, uses Ethereum for smart contracts, Interplanetary File System (IPFS) for decentralised file transfer, and BigchainDB for decentralised storage.
Communicate blockchain benefits to stakeholders
Unless your team is planning on going rogue, the next logical step in the process is that you present your use-case model, preferred platform, and implementation plan to senior leadership. Since applying blockchain often leads to re-imagining current or “legacy” systems to optimise the technology’s strengths, a cross-functional team should be built from the very start.
Your blockchain-based business shouldn’t originate from IT and remain misunderstood by business sponsors and other key stakeholders. When you involve strategic partners, the people who matter will understand the bigger picture and the role blockchain can play in achieving your business goals.
Set clear objectives independent of cost-benefit analyses
To avoid the pitfall of spending time and money developing internal systems that never make it into the real world, set targets to which your business can measure progress. Clear objectives also force you to regularly define how blockchain will contribute to your long-term strategy and prevent you from simply “jumping on board the blockchain bandwagon,” as Gartner Fellow and vice president Ray Valdes puts it.
How does blockchain fit into your 2030 roadmap?
To give you some ideas, executives and companies in Cognizant’s study cited improved data management, greater transparency, improved risk management, increased speed of digitisation, and process automation as the most compelling reasons for implementing blockchain.
Secure talent and expertise
For a startup, a competent team is crucial to your credibility when you’re launching your whitepaper and trying to crowdfund your blockchain project; for established businesses, your team needs a balanced skill-set to integrate blockchain into your organisation’s structure.
Whether you’re building a team from scratch or considering hiring a few additional blockchain professionals, it’s best to consider developers, technology architects, finance experts, and media specialists whose expertise collectively lies in risk management, cryptography, product strategy, and analytics.
“Easier said than done,” you may be thinking. Yet, according to LinkedIn, the number one emerging job in 2018 was that of blockchain developer, and a Leathwaite report claims that if you offer a supportive work culture, equity in the blockchain-based project, and locate in a hub for rising professionals, you’ll be able to source strong candidates.
Road-test new processes
“They say no plan survives first contact with implementation. I’d have to agree.”
— Mark Watney, The Martian
If there’s one main idea you take away from the block-by-block concept, it’s that adding blockchain capacity to your business model is a process. First, develop a proof-of-concept, or pilot, to give your team expertise in dealing with the technology. Then, present your master plan to senior management and start road testing blockchain slowly but surely. Finally, once you have a clearer idea of the issues you need to address, you can focus on scaling up the solution and adjusting your processes in a way that complements blockchain’s natural strengths.
Three, Two, One…Take Off
There you have it: we’ve covered the building blocks to launch or integrate blockchain into your business. Your competitors are already starting to take notice. Out of Cognizant’s executive respondents, 91% stated that blockchain would be “critical” for survival in the coming years. With that in mind, the players who will stand out will be the ones who use a structured process to build their blockchain system, block by block, and launch their project into the real world.
Deliberate, Create, Iterate
Similar to learning how to ride a motorbike or mix a mean drink, blockchain-based development or integration takes time to perfect. You can refer back to your initial goals and assess progress; but often, the most valuable metrics come from unbiased stakeholders in the form of reviews.
Revain’s blockchain-based review platform for the crypto community encourages users to share their experiences via high-quality feedback. Positive reviews highlight your strengths and move your project or exchange higher in our ranking system, while user criticism helps you identify and overcome your stumbling blocks. Let’s put it this way: Revain enables your business to conduct market research and refine your blockchain strategy.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. When building the best blockchain-based business possible, block-by-block is the name of the game.