Blockchain could change how tech firms do business

Microsoft has launched a blockchain development kit for enterprises (Image matejmo / iStockPhoto)
Half of C-level executives expect blockchain to change how their tech firm does business (Image matejmo / iStockPhoto)

Nearly half of IT execs in a recent survey believe blockchain will change the way their companies do business over the next three years, and that the top benefit blockchain will enable is improved business efficiency.

Along with the 48% who indicate blockchain will likely change business practices, 41% percent of respondents to a KPMG survey said they're "likely" or "very likely" to implement blockchain during the same timeframe.

One "leading global tech organization" that KPMG helped deploy blockchain to track  the shipment, lease lifecycle and financial management of employee laptops and tablets, now plans to scale the platform to other enterprise assets like servers, according to Keele.

"And, when one of the company's suppliers heard about this use case, that organization wanted to extend the solution to their own enterprise and supplier network, as well," Keele said.

Interestingly enough, the IT executives surveyed believe the greatest disruption arising  from blockchain adoption will be in IoT, where it's expected to help track software upgrades, product refills and product warranties.

Twenty-three percent of respondents believe blockchain will disrupt IoT, compared with 22% who pointed to trading and 20% who believe it will reduce cyber risks in the next three years.

The online survey of technology firm clients was conducted in December and January; there were 740 respondents, 76% of whom were C-level executives, including CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CIOs and CTOs.

The companies surveyed worked in software; hardware/electronics; cloud; and internet software and services. Because the executives were from tech firms, their answers were skewed toward a willingness to experiment with new technologies, according to Keele.

"I think tech companies are inclined to experiment by virtue of their industry," Keele said during an interview. "So I think IoT is something they've been thinking about and tinkering with. They're probably thinking more broadly about what blockchain and IoT looks like, what blockchain plus A.I. and Machine learning look like.

"Generally, they're asking us how we see those technologies converging more so than folks in other industries," Keele said.

Blockchain, a type of database that runs on an open, peer-to-peer network, can automate business practices through technology known as "smart contracts" – self-executing code based on predetermined rules. For example, smart contract code can be used to automatically update software on IoT devices or, when used in supply chain management, verify that a cargo container has reached a port.

According to KPMG's Tech Innovation Survey results, technology executives indicated the top benefit they associate with blockchain adoption is improved business efficiency (23%), compared to only 9% who were interested in cost reductions or deriving new business insights from data contained in the distributed ledger technology.

Referring to external data gleaned from business processes, such as supply chain management or parts procurement, Keele said: "Once that's on blockchain, I can create an end-to-end view of that data...that gives me better insights into what's happening both internally and externally."

The biggest challenges likely to slow adoption of blockchain technology in the next three years, according to the survey responses, are unproven case studies (24%), technology complexity (14%) and a lack of capital to fund new investments (12%).

Computerworld (US)

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