Why blockchain? The 80/20 problem worth solving

I ran a Twitter blockchain poll, and the question I asked was…

Do you know why we need blockchain technology?

Over the past five years, I have seen a shift in business curiosity about blockchain technology.

What was once a no, not a chance, has changed to more of a well, let’s look at this disruptive in more depth. You now see the commercial marketplace opening up to the opportunities to use blockchain for business transformation.

I think this mindset change has been helped by third-generation blockchain projects, like Algorand, founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Professor Silvio Micali.

The next-generation

These next-generation blockchain projects added something lacking in previous blockchain solutions;

  • scalability
  • speed

And, lastly, not forgetting the all-important misconceptions that blockchains are only cryptocurrency (crypto). And that crypto is something illegal that takes place on the mysterious and dangerous dark web. Thereby blockchain should not be touched with a bargepole.

Dictionary: bargepole — noun — a long pole used to propel a barge and fend off obstacles.


Let’s go back to the 80/20 blockchain adoption problem highlighted in the Twitter poll.

How does blockchain technology overcome the problem that people do not know or care about this emerging technology that promises so much?

To state the obvious, remember that nearly 20 % of respondents seemed to understand why we need blockchain technology, which is excellent!

Arguably the general public does not need to know how the technology under the hood works. After all, did someone explain the famous cloud technology revolution or artificial intelligence that many still find a mystery?

Yet, blockchain carries the brunt of the negative onslaught towards this Fourth Industrial Revolution technology, but the times they are a-changing.

Blockchain for business

To be sure, any business investigating blockchain as a solution needs to be aware of what this means from the following points of view at a minimum — a technical perspective, the new opportunities, as well as the risks that fulfill these disruptive technology aspirations.

Q: So how should you tackle blockchain for business?

A: Solve the business problem first

Three ways to challenge yourself when looking at blockchain for your business;

1) Think about the future

Start in the future and work backward. Or, in other words, what would your future self be happy you did today?

What do you need your business to do in the future that blockchain could help solve? Form new coalitions? Work outside current paywalls? These are just some of the possibilities of using blockchain technology to transform business and as such society.

Supply chains

Supply chains are where you see the highest adoption of blockchain technology at the moment.

Supply chain blockchains help streamline complex operating systems and introduce another emerging technology IoT devices that can enable real-time food traceability, and this is an example of blockchain technology in real life.

Walmart, one of the world’s largest grocery stores, uses IBM blockchain technology in its supply chain. Again, Walmart started with the business problem to solve before saying yes to blockchain technology.

2) Technology centric focus

Understandably, the early focus of disruptive technology like blockchain should be on development. Blockchain until 2018/2019 was not really at a stage where it could be used effectively in business optimization.

As the technology matures, and more developers learn how to code on the blockchain, they will bring the necessary business experience needed to evolve and adopt blockchain at scale.

The tech-centric and revolutionary focus was tremendous, but now blockchain must enter a new phase for it to become the fabric of business and society.

3) Regulatory clarity

A significant challenge for blockchain is finding the right balance between innovation and the regulatory policies that govern it.

We have seen successful four-fold adoption of blockchain use cases where governments and Central Banks have embraced blockchain technology, such as in ASIA PAC. However, when regulation hinders or is not aligned with innovation as it is unfolding, it has been seen to slow adoption.

Legislation and regulation are necessary and can be used for good to protect citizens. It also provides a framework for the new marketplace as blockchain technology goes viral.

For sure, it is a difficult hurdle to find the balance between regulation and mainstream adoption of blockchain and innovative technologies.

Blockchain winter is coming

As blockchain finds its way into business and society operating systems, new challenges will emerge, requiring multidisciplinary viewpoints.

I recently heard on a Gartner podcast blockchain winter is coming. Admittedly, this is what happens when disruptive and emerging technology enters a new era of acceptance and scale.

Indeed, some blockchain projects will not withstand the marketplace test and production at large and remain committed to the promises of blockchain — scalability, decentralization, and security.