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When you hear (or read) “blockchain,” what comes to mind?
Crypto? Bitcoin? Some terrifyingly complex technology?
These are all misconceptions, says Mrinal Manohar, CEO and cofounder of Casper Labs.
Yet even as such confusion persists — and widespread fundamental knowledge continues to lag — there is a unique conundrum: Interest in adopting blockchain is at an all-time high, according to a survey released today by the company.
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“There’s a huge misunderstanding about what blockchain actually does,” said Manohar. “It’s about so much more than crypto.”
Blockchain, and benefits, defined
Simply explained, blockchain is a ledger of information stored in a traceable and tamper-proof manner across a distributed network of computers.
“Blockchain ultimately provides the best version of copy protection and digital certification we’ve ever seen,” said Manohar.
These are both essential for a “nearly limitless” pool of business applications, he explained. And, yes, while the first use case was digital money in the way of Bitcoin, copy protection can be applied to anything.
For instance, the supply chain. Blockchain technology enables organizations to manage a good’s life cycle from the time it is created, to the time it may be certified, to the time it is sold or transferred (and it could ultimately be sold or transferred multiple times). Not only that, its condition — say, temperature — can be verified at any given point on its journey from point A to point B.
Manohar cited other examples such as patents, degree certificates, home ownership, “the list goes on.”
Persistent knowledge gap, steep learning curve
Still, despite such widespread benefits, business leaders and developers alike continue to lack fundamental knowledge of blockchain:
- More than half (54%) of respondents still see “blockchain” and “crypto” as interchangeable terms.
- Nearly all (98%) respondents said they would be more likely to adopt blockchain if they learned more about the technology and understood how their peers were using it.
Furthermore, there’s a steep learning curve for developers during or after blockchain implementation; this was cited by more than half (52%) of respondents, who called it the most common challenge to adoption (25%). This is followed by lack of viable tools (24%), interoperability concerns (20%) and anti-blockchain cynicism (18%).
“Today’s volatile digital asset markets limit the public’s perception about what blockchain is and how it can make a positive impact on their business,” said Manohar.
The term and technology remain (incorrectly) wrapped up with “crypto,” he noted, but the latter is really just a simple application of blockchain.
He pointed out that this obscures the reality that many organizations are meaningfully adopting blockchain technology today.
Survey respondents reported using blockchain to meet security requirements (42%) and manage copy protection (42%). They are also leveraging the technology to support operational improvements and innovations, such as:
- Building internal operational workflows (40%)
- Making supply chains more efficient (34%)
- Developing software applications (30%)
- Managing contracts (21%)
- Hiring and recruiting (11%)
“Blockchain is a proven way to reduce costs and open new revenue streams,” said Manohar.
Despite ignorance, strong interest
Still, ignorance isn’t bliss: Surveyed respondents expressed a strong interest in adopting blockchain, and nearly 90% in the U.S., U.K., and China are beginning to use blockchain in some capacity. Also:
- 87% are likely to invest in a blockchain solution in the next 12 months. This is especially true in China, where more than half are “very likely” to make an investment.
- 81% expect technology budgets to increase in 2023, even amid an expected downturn.
Indeed, the global blockchain technology market size is expected to achieve a monumental compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 85.9% between 2022 and 2030.
“Enthusiasm for blockchain’s potential remains quite high, as does a stated desire for more dedicated educational resources,” said Manohar.
And, even in areas such as China where adoption intent is high, the general consensus remains that more education is necessary for successful widespread use.
“It’s not a catch-all solution by any stretch, but it is an incredibly powerful tool to add to your organization’s IT tool belt if the right use case exists,” said Manohar.
To this point, Casper Labs — which calls its Casper Network the first live proof-of-stake blockchain built off the Casper CBC specification designed by Ethereum developers — first asks its prospects, “what’s your level of comfort with this technology and how it can potentially help you?”
Manohar explained that, “we always want to make sure businesses understand what blockchain can and can’t do.”
A pivotal moment
But where to start?
To set themselves up for successful adoption, organizations should begin by researching the right blockchain for their needs, Manohar advised. There are many materials online, as well as white papers and Casper’s own ebook, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Blockchain.
In short, organizations should “look for blockchains that focus on interoperability with existing tech stacks so they don’t need to overhaul their infrastructure,” said Manohar.
It’s also key to look for blockchains written in languages familiar to mainstream developers and compatible with an organization’s existing toolkit, he said. And, looking for tools such as upgradeable smart contracts — which bring software development best practices such as continuous deployment and continuous integration to blockchain — is important, too.
Finally, organizations should ensure that they can find a partner offering dedicated professional services they need to “keep the lights on” if something breaks (say, at 2 am).
Ultimately, Manohar said, “we are really at a pivotal moment for both blockchain and enterprise technology broadly.”
Enterprises, governments and Wall Street are beginning to recognize that blockchain is not here to “tear down and replace their current tech stack,” he said, but help them operate more efficiently within existing infrastructure.
As he put it, “blockchain is ready for the enterprise, and enterprises are ready for blockchain — they just need the right knowledge and tools.”
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