Making the World Safe for Blockchain

  • June 27, 2017
  • Scott
  • 0 Comments

[Editor’s note: Don’t forget to register for Driven 2017!   Our customer conference is August 16th and 17th this year.  More sessions are being added every week! Download our FREE ebook on Blockchain in Insurance here.]

It has been estimated that a blockchain “is about 80% business process change and 20% technology change”

But First, a Cautionary Tale

Many of our readers were there for the great enterprise mobile revolution from 2010-2015.  It was an exciting moment for IT – mobile apps and programs proliferated across the enterprise. Whole new consultancies were  born, with the express purpose of building mobile applications for the enterprise. Apple’s iPhone moved deep into the enterprise, unlocking a lot of potential for a new breed of enterprise app.  The opportunity seemed endless.

New groups within many Fortune 500 companies were spun up to build mobile apps. Fiefdoms were born.  No mobile apps allowed that didn’t go through the mobile app group (reminiscent of the 90’s when all websites had to go through the “internet group” at each company.  Eventually of course, websites became ubiquitous and distributed in nature.  The same is true for mobile. Because mobile wasn’t meant to be one fiefdom – it was meant to be a universal capability – like a website.

Many of these mobile initiatives fell flat.  In my view, a big reason for this is that the mobile apps have often amounted to window dressing. In the same way that a new fancy website is only window dressing.  I asked a friend at Mutual Mobile what their biggest challenge was in deploying mobile apps for customers, and the first thing he said was that they just didn’t understand how to talk to customers about what’s going on on the other side of the wall. He felt like both the enterprise IT and the mobile teams were just throwing requirements over the wall, and data, without any understanding of the business, nor the processes that support the business.  No matter how good looking a website or mobile app is, it doesn’t change the way your business operates.

Making the World Safe for Blockchain

And now your business is about to take on Blockchain pilots or proofs of concept. You might be spinning up a COE, or an exploratory group.  And there are vendors who specialize in blockchain code and technology – just as there were vendors who focus solely on Mobile apps.

How do we avoid the same ignominious fate for deployments of Blockchain in the enterprise?  The simple answer is that we need to connect Blockchain with our businesses. We need to make it part of the normal course of business for the new business models and services and products it enables and improves.  And in order to do that, we have to rethink our business transactions and interactions with our customers and our supply chains and our team members. Provenance becomes a keyword.

And ultimately, we need to then redesign our business processes and decisions to support:

  • New products
  • New services
  • New business models
  • New markets

Business process and Blockchain are, therefore, a natural marriage.  At BP3 we first got excited about Blockchain when the business implications became clear. It wasn’t juts a wonky technology for hidden corners of fin-tech. It is destined to be a mainstream enterprise technology for chain of control, provenance, and contracts.  Andrew Paier speaks more about it in this video, a primer on Blockchain.

What does it mean in more practical terms?

  • Meeting the commitments of smart contracts in a Blockchain will require verifiable processes connected with Blockchain.
  • Imagine process definitions explicitly stored and versioned in the Blockchain as part of an organizations commitment to delivery services – like ISO certification but with real provenance. These process definitions can be offered as proof of compliance.
  • Process audit logs – stored as deltas in the blockchain, can also provide that assurance of compliance and regulatory adherence.
  • Rather than just having a bunch of code represent smart contracts – which while unambiguous renders itself difficult for lawyers to understand – decision management technologies will produce smart blockchain contract that combine visualization with code. Visualizations might help prevent the kinds of contractual loopholes that allowed someone to siphon off $60M from Ethereum for example, even though they complied with all the rules of the contract.
  • All of the above allows for more automation of contracts, audits, and negotiations.

According to Deloitte’s “Blockchain: Enigma, Paradox, Opportunity, 2016”:

It has been estimated that a blockchain “is about 80% business process change and 20% technology change”

At Driven 2017, we’ll have at least two sessions on Blockchain.  The first will be a review of Blockchain applied to real business problems, delivered by our very own Mark Robbins:

There is much written about Blockchain which focuses on its disruptive qualities and potential to redefine industries and business models.  And many hail Blockchain technology to be the next “Internet” i.e. it will do for data what the Internet did for computing. There is however another more pragmatic side to the technology as it has significant potential to drive out cost associated with process in an industry and company value chain. These benefits need not be predicated by development of an ecosystem. There are many opportunities for Blockchains to drive value for individual companies if approached correctly. These opportunities typically gravitate around core processes that require significant data collection and validation. This session explores this topic in greater depth.

And we’ll have another more practical workshop illustrating how to combine Blockchain with process technologies and methods. It will be perfect for BPM practitioners who want to understand how to incorporate process into Blockchain, and Blockchain into their business processes.

It’s a brave new world for Blockchain, but we need to make it safe for the enterprise.  It can’t just live in the high priesthood of Blockchain, we need to bring it into the realm of real business operations. Driven 2017 might just be a good start on the journey to making it real for our audience.

Don’t forget to register for Driven 2017!   Our customer conference is August 16th and 17th this year.  More sessions are being announced every week!

 

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