Blockchain in 2019: 4 trends to watch

Blockchain in 2019: 4 trends to watch

Let’s do a reality check: What blockchain trends should you be watching in the months ahead?

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It’s a familiar scenario with hot emerging technologies: People’s opinions and predictions for that next big thing range from “it’s a passing fad” to “it will change everything.”

That certainly describes the current spectrum of perspectives on blockchain, even though reality will probably fall somewhere between the two ends of that spectrum – especially in most corporate contexts. As interest grows, it proves tough to sift through and make sense of such a wide range of opinions.

[ How is blockchain helping in industries like real estate and healthcare? Read our related article, Blockchain in action: 5 interesting examples. ]

We thought now was an opportune time for a reality check: What trends should CIOs and other leaders interested in blockchain be aware of as we enter the final quarter of 2018 – and in the year ahead? Here are four blockchain trends that should be on your radar screen:

1. Growing push to identify best business use cases

Ajit Prabhu, innovation leader at Deloitte Consulting, expects that one of the near-term trends is not necessarily a huge uptick in adoption but rather a groundswell of enterprise interest in identifying tangible, productive use cases for blockchain.

“There is increasing interest in corporations understanding what types of business problems are best suited to blockchain,” Prabhu. He notes that this will increasingly entail learning by doing, via pilots, proof-of-concepts, and other early stage experimentation.

Moreover, there will be a particular focus on discovering not just where blockchain could fit, but where it is the best fit. This is especially important because, as we have explored, blockchain does not fit everywhere.

“There are several problems which are better suited to be addressed by technologies such as robotics or cognitive and AI than blockchain."

“There are several problems which are better suited to be addressed by technologies such as robotics or cognitive and AI than blockchain,” Prabhu says. “Bad choices that create negative ROI could slow down the adoption curve.”

Lucidity COO Nikao Yang notes that the trend toward identifying real-world use cases for blockchain will help make blockchain less synonymous – important because they’re not actually synonymous – with the mania around cryptocurrencies.

“For a long time, blockchain has been inextricably tied to cryptocurrencies, but that’s simply one application of the technology,” Yang says. “Now, a variety of industries – from manufacturing to retail – will start to explore the improvements blockchain can bring to supply chain transparency, ownership tracking, and others.”

[ Read also: Where does blockchain fit best? ]

2. The nascent blockchain industry will work on its image

The shift Yang describes dovetails with another near-term – and necessary – issue: Some organizations are keeping blockchain at arm’s length because, Yang notes, blockchain has a bit of a reputation problem.

“For many, blockchain and cryptocurrency are interchangeable concepts, and the volatility of the cryptocurrency market has given some a reason to stay away,” Yang says.

“In order for blockchain adoption to happen, the industry will need to better educate on the differences between blockchain and cryptocurrency, and the possibilities of what we can do with blockchain outside of financial transactions.”

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Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his InformationWeek.com story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.

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