Enterprise

Buy, borrow, or build? For enterprises looking to blockchain, it’s time to get the plan right

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Opinion In the past few years, the progression of blockchain has been a phased evolution traced through three main stages: education, prototype, and deployment. On the enterprise front, the industry has done an admirable job of laying down the groundwork for education and developing ideas at the prototype level. And yet, moving forward, the time has come to shift gears, ensuring the industry’s seamless transition to the next stage of production.

To a large extent, this will be contingent on companies recognising, prioritising, and redesigning the operational value of blockchain. As enterprise users look towards a frictionless experience, topics such as ease of onboarding, intuitive integration with legacy systems, and risk management from a technological standpoint will soon dominate the corporate agenda.

To do so, enterprises need to focus on implementations that do not merely disrupt for the sake of disruption, but instead present meaningful value-add to existing business processes. Starting small and iterating often should be the driver of successful change. It is important to introduce these implementations across organizational areas that offer the least risk in terms of change management, as well as ongoing day-to-day business operations.

In turn, both blockchain services and technological providers will lean on the increasing significance of things such as UX, security, and onboarding processes — areas which have up till now hindered enterprises from joining the blockchain space. Given the rapid mobilisation of blockchain to the boardroom, it seems only fitting that other aspects of the blockchain are now catching up to the technological advancement we have seen so far.

For enterprises who are eager to have their own piece of the blockchain pie, normative industry practices point to three methods: buy, borrow, or build.

“Enterprises need to recognise, prioritise and redesign the operational value of blockchain – yet they have to be equipped with a necessary sense of urgency”

Powerhouses such as Facebook have led the way in showing how companies can quickly amass and build up their blockchain credentials, as with the social media giant’s much publicised acqui-hire of Chainspace, a scalable smart contracts platform. Such moves explore how companies residing outside of the blockchain space can hope to gain a foothold in a rapidly crowding environment.

Other companies who look to bolster their ambitions in a more collaborative way often rely on blockchain hubs or platforms such as R3 Corda and Hyperledger. These notable examples borrow from open-source blockchain architecture to meet the native needs of enterprises in an efficient and compatible manner.

Last but not least, many companies have also begun channeling their energies inwards, building out their own in-house blockchain capabilities. In the short term, this allows for companies to easily separate the noise from the value; in the long term, this gestures to the speed and ease of scale for enterprise deployment. Indeed, with the plethora of options available, the challenges when it comes to enterprise adoption might be more imagined than real.

As a result, in 2020, blockchain can no longer afford to sell a dream. By returning to the fundamentals, the onus lies on the industry to move beyond proof, deliver on fuss-free, concrete value for enterprise clients, and to map their growth trajectory from here onwards. In the scramble not to be left behind, enterprises have to be equipped with a necessary sense of urgency, as it is often the case with nascent technologies that the first mover advantage is a critical one.

Even if the learning journey for blockchain is a continuous one, the way ahead is certain to be shaped by the strength of the team, the calibre of the technology, and the technical agility of enterprises—leaving the theory behind once and for all.

About the author: Yonathan Lapchik, CEO of SUKU, is a blockchain specialist with a strong business and technology background. He brings more than 12 years of experience helping Fortune 500 clients with digital transformations, M&A, tech strategy, and product implementation working for TATA Consultancy Services and Deloitte. Before joining Citizens Reserve, Yonathan held the role of Product Lead for Deloitte’s US Blockchain Lab, focusing on leading the development of blockchain-based prototypes and enterprise solutions.

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