Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about blockchain being all hype. From institutions like the University of Pennsylvania to tech-focused investment conferences, the blockchain discussion has begun to veer into what is starting to sound like an apology from the industry about what blockchain hasn’t yet achieved. Instead of trying to use the game-changing technology in new ways, it seems like blockchain specialists are starting to cower under the weight of high expectations and attempting to backtrack on promises of far-reaching possibilities.
I heard someone who runs a blockchain company say at a recent conference that everyone is too fascinated with blockchain, that it’s just a way to track financial transactions.
Now, I understand the general sentiment of overhype in Silicon Valley, a place with seemingly extravagant valuations where companies put more money into marketing than into product development. But blockchain is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fad. And it is definitely not overhyped.
In fact, it’s not hyped enough. It will change the way the world does business just as much as the assembly line revolutionized manufacturing.
Blockchain was created to reinforce digital currency and is most closely associated with money. I’ve discussed before how this innovative technology increases the speed, transparency, and security of transactions, making it ideal for managing financial data. So, it’s no surprise blockchain has initially had the most notable impact on the financial industry. It allows financial institutions to capture client transactions in real time, allays concerns about data corruption, and ensures historical tracking through sequential timestamps.
My company, for example, uses elements of blockchain in our ERP software to run checks on data and generate reports orders of magnitude faster than otherwise possible.
But the uses for blockchain technology extend far beyond money and finance. It can be used to track ownership of and rights to all types of digital content, including books, music, and even logos. For industries that deal with tangible assets, blockchain can increase transparency and auditability of any supply chain. Blockchain also works with Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices to create a permanent, real-time record of the status of an item every time it moves or changes hands, helping to reduce human error and delays through a more efficient and accurate way of monitoring any process.
Just imagine the implications blockchain could have on the energy industry, where constant changes in how we create, store, distribute, and consume energy has led to the waste of a precious commodity. Having a single record of energy transactions based on blockchain would make industry data from generation to consumption more manageable, accessible, and actionable, which in turn could lead to increasingly rapid advancements in the industry.
Blockchain will be the foundation of technology developments across industries for decades to come. So everyone needs to stop trying to tear down and minimize its impact. Just as the assembly line opened the door for a new way of thinking about manufacturing and processes, we will see blockchain applied more expansively and watch it create opportunities for additional advancements in how we do business.