Blockchain: Is it the future?
Blockchain is an emerging technology that has got the world talking. And in Dubai the government is pioneering its use, stating its intention to be the first government in the world powered by blockchain by 2020.
To find out more about this emerging technology, we held a panel discussion with leading experts discussing what it is, what it means, and what business leaders need to know.
Jean Luc Scherer - Founder & CEO Innoopolis (Moderator)
Anthony Butler - Chief Technology Officer IBM
Pierre Samaties - Managing Partner & CEO Innogy International
Daren Frankel - Senior Technology Analyst ConsenSys
Blockchain solves the problem of trust in transactions
“Blockchain goes way beyond cryptocurrencies; it’s essentially a distributed ledger. What it solves is the problem of trust in financial transactions. In the past this problem has been mitigated by use of paper, or intermediaries, but now we can re-imagine business processes and sometimes entire industries.” - Anthony Butler - Chief Technology Officer IBM
It has the potential to be disruptive in many industries
“The classic use-cases where blockchain can be disruptive are trade finance and legal business. We’ve also been investigating its use in the energy industry, which is a sector increasingly moving towards decentralisation and democratization. Blockchain can also enable peer-to-peer transactions; it is suited to business models that are about microtransactions.” - Pierre Samaties - Managing Partner & CEO Innogy International
It is still early days
“This is a nascent technology. Modern blockchain systems all originate from bitcoin, which itself only surfaced in 2009. There is a lot of active investment from industries and non-profit foundations to make it more user friendly, but there’s still some way to go before it gets to that level of maturity where we will see the value of building on top of these systems.” - Daren Frankel - Senior Technology Analyst ConsenSys
The UAE is leading the way
The UAE is undoubtedly taking a leading role on blockchain from a government point of view. The Dubai government has a blockchain strategy with a real focus on innovation and technology, doing proof-of-concept work on blockchain. Indeed, just a few weeks ago the World Economic Forum noted that Dubai is leading globally. It’s the perfect place to test the technology. - Pierre Samaties - Managing Partner & CEO, Innogy International
“Dubai is unusual in that use of the technology is being driven by the public sector. This has created a lot of activity in Dubai, with the public and private sector both becoming interested in adopting the technology. It’s an exciting time!” - Anthony Butler - Chief Technology Officer, IBM
Skills are an issue
“One of the big issues is the skills gap and making sure that the ICT staff client-side understand what it all means. Often teams need to be walked through it in three, four or five sessions before they are truly comfortable with how it all works. It’s about taking clients on a journey.”- Daren Frankel - Senior Technology Analyst ConsenSys
“You need people who really understand blockchain and that’s where there’s a big gap in the industry. But there’s also a lot of other skills required, such as business analysis and business process. It’s worth remembering that in an active blockchain network, 80% of the work is happening off chain. It’s about the applications that sit outside and for that you need typical IT skills.” Anthony Butler - Chief Technology Officer, IBM
Blockchain isn’t about to replace all your systems
“Blockchain is more of an evolution than displacement. The parts of your tech environment that will be displaced are where you’ve been working with third parties.
“It is not intended to store huge amounts of data. About 80% is offchain, 20% is onchain. The parts of your business that you will move to blockchain are those that are dependent on coordination with independent entities. It will be interacting with your existing systems. You’re not going to build web pages on blockchain. You’ll use it for when something leaves your door and you have to interact with and trust the counter party. “Daren Frankel - Senior Technology Analyst ConsenSys