I’ve expressed much disdain over blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and the questionable thought leadership meant to position them with authority. When it comes specifically to blockchain, the true potential for applications beyond crypto continues to be largely unclear.
Despite this, I always have, and continue to believe it only takes one or two very compelling, highly successful use cases for blockchain adoption to grow exponentially across a wide range of industries.
IBM has been one of the large technology companies at the forefront of piloting blockchain-related applications. Perhaps the most prominent has been a collaboration with shipping giant Maersk to track cargo ships and containers worldwide, using a jointly created, blockchain-based logistics tracking platform known as TradeLens.
Recently, the #2 and #3 shipping companies have joined in with #1 Maersk to adopt and nurture this platform, which also has been in use by over 100 other shipping and cargo firms around the world.
IBM has also been tapped by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration), along with Merck and Walmart to pilot the use of blockchain, with the aim of improving security over prescription drug supply and distribution. One potential is a significant reduction in the unauthorized access to opioids.
It may be somewhat unbelievable, but finally in 2019, blockchain services are now generally available on public cloud platforms. This can be beneficial to enterprises looking to evaluate the viability of implementing blockchain applications – without the great expense of building their own infrastructure.
But caution ahead!
Despite the availability of public cloud services to build blockchain systems, the viability of doing so may be far from certain for enterprises.
Gartner has predicted that 90% of current enterprise blockchain implementations will require a complete overhaul by 2021, due to obsolescence and other factors. Moreover, they’ve also proclaimed that 90% of blockchain-based supply chain applications will peter out by 2023.
A Gartner supply chain technology survey of user wants and needs found that only 19% of respondents ranked blockchain as a very important technology for their business, and only 9% have invested in it. This is mainly because supply chain blockchain projects are very limited and do not match the initial enthusiasm for the technology’s application in supply chain management.
Also perhaps noteworthy is that IBM, as part of its longtime diversification efforts, has been piloting technology projects in mobile computing (enterprise-focused iPad apps), artificial intelligence, and other areas, with long-term success not known with certainty.