Every day, blockchain technology is being tested somewhere in the world by passionate engineers and entrepreneurs trying to figure out ways it can be applied to real life situations. One can already argue that blockchain is past the tipping point. It is no longer a question of if this technology will be adopted, rather how and when.
The core underlying distributed ledger infrastructure and the development protocol layers required to develop apps on it have been established. Major tech titans like Oracle, IBM, and Alibaba are already using blockchain internally and have created blockchain enterprise offerings for their customers.
Today dozens of multinational companies regularly participate in blockchain innovation thought leadership programs in California organized by Silicon Valley Innovation Center. Most importantly, blockchain is not just an update to existing corporate IT solutions. We believe it will have robust and sustainable development all over the world, similar to the growth of the internet-based companies that grew rapidly in the 1990s and 2000s.
The largest impediment to the growth and adoption of blockchain appears to be at the government level. Historic, bureaucratic, paper-based processes of the multiple stakeholders in the governmental “value chain” make the government slow and afraid to adopt this new fast paced and transparent technology.
Unfortunately, a challenge has always existed in government, regardless of new technology, to reduce middleman costs and shorten duplicated efforts from legacy processes. The salaries and livelihoods of many government workers are in fact due to slow moving and duplicate systems. New technology like blockchain will hopefully take responsibility for reducing government costs, so that people will see a new and more productive tech driven economy.
SOME GOVERNMENTS HAVE BEGUN TESTING BLOCKCHAIN
There is hope that governments are making moves to understand how to use blockchain effectively. In the United States President Trump authorized a new “Modernized Government” study in a recent defense bill in which he authorized research into new IT, cybersecurity systems, and blockchain.
In Australia, the potential of blockchain to increase the effectiveness of the public sector has prompted Standard Australia – the board responsible for standards used throughout the nation – to submit a proposal to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the standardization of blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
Some universities have offered curriculums to support students to learn about how to build and apply blockchain in cutting edge use cases. Consensys, a leading player in the blockchain industry, holds competitions for MBA students to develop entrepreneurial cases for blockchain technology.
While governments have begun to make commitments to research and standardize international data distribution and communication, according to the research firm IDC, by 2021 the private sector is set to spend $9.2 billion on blockchain related products and services. Inside the private sector, financial services firms are leading the way in blockchain adoption using it for international trades, payments, and money transfers. The next expected wave of blockchain adoption is in supply chain, personal IDs, and healthcare.
With the private sector keen to adopt experiments of this new and efficient means of communication and the government sector slow to adopt standardization, how shall the private and public sectors come to see eye to eye on how to use and regulate this important new technology?
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP WILL HELP SET DIRECTION
When it comes to the standardization of any new technology, we have to think about the practice and development of an ecosystem that allows testing of existing performance and the experimentation with new functionality over and over again. Because of the absence of blockchain leadership and resource shortage in the government certification bodies, there will be a serious delay in standardization despite the growing demand for blockchain services and products.
In order to gain maximum value from this phenomena, we ought to establish more locations where people can gather and collaborate together, making use of the – so far – unstandardized, provisional infrastructures. This will allow network effects and wisdom of the crowds to invent applications that will be widely adopted in the market.
BUILD COMMUNITIES SUPPORTIVE OF BLOCKCHAIN INITIATIVES
It is natural that an individual avoids getting close to gatherings that are contrary to his or her normal interests and expertise. However this inevitably results in segregation and siloing of mental models and thought leadership. “Preaching to the choir” is a wonderful term that summarizes the phenomenon when one passionate person presents a passionate argument to an audience that already shares the same opinion.
Therefore blockchain community managers and event managers must appoint passionate individuals who want to develop future economies and business models using blockchain into communities that do not share the same opinion, sometimes even with opposing views. While this may lead to some short term challenges, the long term payoff will be well worth it.
In my opinion, a good community manager needs to acquire the skills and experience to properly match people from the opposite sides of an opinion together. This doesn’t mean making compromises, but rather having the two opposing views find a similar view together through open dialogue.
I have found that three factors below, when present in a conversational venue, lead to a tipping point of productive conversation even amongst parties from an opposing mindset:
- Diverse audience. The composition of the community members contributes to the quality of the discussions and the direct outcomes that result from member interactions.
- Targeted and exciting topics. Selecting engaging topics is the key driver to stir excitement in the community and get a variety of perspectives. Once I co-organized an event for the exchange of a proposal between public speakers and private audiences. Choosing the discussion topics was the key driver to making the sessions exciting or not.
- Invite experts. An expert’s opinions and feedback will be valuable inside the community and build up original ideas that can lead to policy and product innovation. A relatively small leadership is indispensable to continue to arrange consensus.
The positive dynamic of the community results from the tipping point when those three important factors are achieved. It carries the ability to make brainstorming and data-absorption faster and with the inclusion of a multitude of perspectives.
To conclude I would like to point to one brief experience I had, which describes the essence of the kind of interactive community I have illustrated above. In my experience, we had discussion about difficulties in adopting different data interchanges, interrupting data connections, and distributing data to one another with some attendances.
The tipping point dynamic (diverse audience, exciting topics, and invited experts) ignited the audience of the government officials and the SMB industry representatives to direct their attention forward towards a common goal, which is necessary for public and private players to work together.
I felt at this moment, in which two opposing parties were critically at odds, if we can prepare a meeting that includes the three elements in the tipping point, we are able to create environments that facilitate productive conversations and lead to mutually beneficial outcomes.