Business and enterprise leaders struggle with adopting blockchain for a wide variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that the industry gets itself into trouble by refusing to use a consistent set of terms. We are “Scuppered by Language”. 

Even when books and articles are written in an easy and accessible way, they are often focused on the underlying technology – or how to access cheap capital by launching a token. Too many articles are focused on either starting, continuing or accelerating ‘The Hype.’

None of this is what today’s business leaders need. What they need is multiple use cases showing precisely how blockchain can be used as part of larger initiatives to create real value.

News stories that have snappy catchy headlines are used to lure people into clicking, but sadly they have virtually no useful content. Most of the stories are “nothing burgers”: They have zero substance of value to readers. The ‘meat’ of these posts neither nourish nor deliver answers to these questions:

  • How does having a shared source of information drive value?
  • Precisely what information resides on the blockchain?
  • How many stakeholders or counterparties are involved in the network?

Business and enterprise leaders struggle with adopting blockchain.

Obviously, I’m not saying that this is true about every blockchain article in circulation. Not every blockchain journalist or corporate comms person ducks and dives around the hard questions. Some of these hard-working individuals represent projects that are genuine and not trying to obfuscate and obscure the facts from the reader.

Another significant challenge is that there has been so much hype running over the past three years that people are  “numb” to reading yet another blockchain story. They feel like they don’t need to read any more about the topic, that there isn’t anything new as far as they are concerned. Others believe that the topic and subject matter is too technical, so why bother? 

Enterprise leaders must now wait until the hype subsides, and we cross the trough of despair in the current curve before reengaging with relevant audiences. This leads me to envisage a brighter future ahead. A future where blockchain networks will assume the same ‘level of importance’ as electrical grids and motorway networks and satellite Internet routers, i.e. They fade into the background.

Unless called for in a particular industry or engineering periodical, we never write about the infrastructure that makes initiatives possible.  The articles and stories about blockchain technology will be the same as fantastic products and services which are built on top of the electric grid, motorway network and satellite Internet routers – the ‘hype’ is the service or product, not the enabler of said product or service.

Blockchain can describe the protocol (like Bitcoin or Ethereum or EOS). Blockchain can refer to the network of computers that manage and maintain the data. Or, Blockchain can be the data stored in the shared ledger. Blockchain networks can be interconnected with services like PolkaDot and Cosmos. 

Blockchain adds the most value when it is a shared, non-profit infrastructure.

Like everything from the fax machine to Tinder, the more people using the infrastructure, the better the network becomes. The more people are adding content and accessing content from the network, the greater the value.

But unlike tinder and today’s social media platforms, blockchain networks have no primary beneficiary. There is no CEO for these networks. There are no opaque business practices which require intense scrutiny and government regulation. 

The best networks have no corporate owner because critical (valuable) blockchain networks are managed by members working collaboratively under the structure of either a consortium, industry association or multi-member partnership. With no CEO and no shareholders to contend with, the network can focus on the core business of creating a trusted source of data which can be securely shared—and creating the necessary infrastructure to allow for new data to be securely added to the network. With the right leadership, the consortium will devise the Minimum Effective Blockchain to meet the privacy, security and transparency requirements of all participants.

Once a blockchain network is in place and adding value to the participants of the network, news and information will be generated naturally by the market talking about the value of the project – and it may or may not reference blockchain. Articles will be written, and case studies created, that will make it clear exactly how a project adds value to an enterprise or business. Collaboration and sharing of data between enterprises will become the focus.

Ultimately, blockchain is infrastructure. It is tedious and technical. For the most part, there is no money in it because non-profit consortia run it. Sure, some of the blockchain providers will make a bit of licensing cash and charge enterprise customers for what is nearly always a FREE and Open Source product. 

One of the most exciting projects I have come across is Alastria. Alastria is a regulated blockchain ecosystem run by a non-profit association. The Alastria network is a Spanish national asset that is already making connections to other enterprises and institutions across the EU and beyond. Alastria perfectly illustrates the idea that blockchain is infrastructure – and the value in the network comes from the participants and the data they each contribute to the network. I found a wide range of exciting blockchain projects in Madrid and am looking forward to returning there once we better understand the new ‘post-COVID normal.’ 

Business and enterprise leaders need all of us in the blockchain industry to work harder at better communicating the actual value of collaboration and cooperation through blockchain. We need to demystify the technology and slowly back away from the (well deserved) carnival conman reputation of cryptocurrencies. We need to focus on how these projects are delivering results which were unattainable before having blockchain technology to provide the right infrastructure for the secure, private and transparent sharing of information.

Crypto A.M.’s opinion pieces are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by or City A.M.

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Troy Norcross, Co-Founder Blockchain Rookies

Twitter: @troy_norcross