I am asked this question often. A succinct answer would seem prudent, but that is not how an integrative thinker operates.
What does the question reference? Phone apps? Proofs-of-concept? Industry adoption? Regulatory action? Decentralized ledgers, tokens, or identity credentials? Is the query about its underlying technology? Marketplace acceptance? In the U.S., Estonia, or China?
It is not proper to answer a question with another question. Doing so can get one accused of fogging up the room; nor is it a question to be avoided.
Blockchain adoption is an integrated and multi-faceted Pandora’s box of uncertainty that the brave are opening. What remains after all the challenges fly out, providing weighty what-if fodder, is more than hope. Consider the internet’s adoption.
When did people stop asking about the internet’s velocity of adoption? Not until the question became superfluous. As the information infrastructure delivered new products, and consumers were anxious about what would come next, questions about its plumbing vanished. Internet and blockchain transformations do not layer onto each other well, but go with me on this.
It took more than a new technological infrastructure to see beyond e-mail. Imagining digital business models doesn’t come naturally to one wired for analog; the transition was painful and bloody. At that time, multiple clients asked me about the internet’s adoption velocity. Unfortunately, we did not have online publishing to communicate a response. FAX machines remained popular; after all, who trusted e-mail?
When measured in industry support, proofs-of-concept, pilots, and production enterprise systems, blockchain’s adoption velocity is apparent. Measured by conferences, hype and overpromises, it is unarguable.
A debate ensues, and the question is raised for a good reason. A thoughtful answer is not straightforward, effortlessly articulated or acceptable to many. It requires parsing the issue, and any response involves trust and faith, for moving forward in uncertain times is hard. Reimagining a business model and executing a dual transformation is harder still.
Blockchain’s underlying architecture is immature and laden with risk. Its recognition to deliver generational change and the movement to capture value from blockchain is not. When the trustless environment of tomorrow returns choice to the edges, empowers a broader community to participate in commerce, even if it technically does not reside on a blockchain, the question will fade from conversations.
The genie that flew out of Satoshi Nakamoto’s magic lamp is not returning to yesterday. The journey is high risk and technology agnostic, at least until the path forward is as apparent as one’s mapping app.
If you are a decision maker, try not to have your company get Netflixed as the word ‘blockchain’ melts into solutions for previously unmet needs. I look forward to the subsequent velocity question after the blockchain one dissolves into a more trusted and rewarding tomorrow.
Thanks to Vinodh KR from Vanig for his comments on this article’s earlier draft; the writer is Chief Solutions Architect at Vanig.