Applications and Use Cases

Battle of the Blockchain Platforms May Be Won by Embedding with Business Process Solutions

October 22, 2018

Who is really buying blockchain, who are the decision makers in businesses, enterprises and organizations?

Charlotte Dunlap, Technology Analyst at leading data and analytics company GlobalData, believes platform services providers are poised to dominate in the emerging blockchain industry, even as large enterprises and organizations continue to explore the practical applications of the decentralized ledger to enhance existing systems, or serve as a foundation for new ones.

“Developers are doing the most innovation, which follows on the Devops movement,” Dunlap said. “They understand the value of platforms, and platforms-as-a-service provided by the same large tech companies they are already working with to build competitive applications. Using templates or embedded technologies to build smart contacts, for example, they are also leveraging APIs which provide the fastest way to connect and integrate.”

Dunlap, who has authored several notes on blockchain for enterprise, called out Applications Lifecycle Management (ALM) as a key trend, along with open standards being introduced and advanced by organizations like Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project.

“None of us can predict how this will all shake out; the adoption and growth of blockchain will be a gradual process,” Dunlap said. “For the very high value applications, including sharing sensitive data between organizations, including through APIs, everybody has to be on board for federated blockchain communities to grow and eventually – potentially – replace legacy data exchange and management systems.”

In one of the reports published by GlobalData, Dunlap wrote “Businesses will come to realize that blockchain is a technology play and solution providers with expertise in infrastructure and platform technologies are most likely to successfully capitalize on this new market opportunity. In particular, organizations are looking to application platforms giants such as IBM, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, with their ability to gain traction through tens of thousands of customers in disparate industries.”

Dunlap also wrote, “These public cloud platform providers are actively building blockchain into their respective PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) offerings, not only as an additional blockchain network service but also as a foundational platform capability; eventually these services will support and interoperate with line of business products. Further, blockchain will be a future enabler of Internet of Things (IoT) efficiency, scalability, security and cost management and a facilitator of IoT applications such as supply chain track-and-trace. Software and equipment vendors and service providers are likely enterprise suppliers.”

Dunlap has followed and written about disruptive enterprise technologies through her career as a top global analyst and was drawn into covering blockchain as the next movement in improving digital systems, by providing better tools and more automation, with more efficient authentication contributing to securing data integrity, critical to multi-cloud, multi-app, multi-counterparty use cases.

“Initially we will see platform providers offer blockchain tools and frameworks to help application developers create smart contracts in which they can not only capture data but act on that data and attach rules to it so, for example, only appropriate parties may view documents,” Dunlap wrote. “Consider the possibility of information on products and supply chains being able to reach customers and partners, weeks earlier than previously allowed through traditional business processes. Imagine the effect such efficiencies could have on businesses in terms of visibility, validation and ensuring accuracy.”

Dunlap, like other industry observers, sees supply chains as one of the most obvious opportunities for blockchain applications.

“Many in the industry have concluded that the current methodology for tracking and transporting goods and manually creating and maintaining legal contracts is broken,” she wrote. “Therefore, computer leaders such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and others have stepped up technology investments in the past 18 months, largely through R&D labs and participation in open source software bodies including the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project, which is a series of OSS blockchain tools and solutions. This activity alone is critical because, as participating vendors like to say, ‘Blockchain is a team sport’, because distributed ledgers are built out of a collaborative effort by multiple parties, so everyone has to be on board with the same methodology.”

Dunlap sees the buying decisions by enterprises for blockchain solutions coming from business unit owners, CIOs and more visionary IT leaders who are the ones ultimately responsible for systems integration and management.

“We’re moving from a phase of uncertainty and confusion to serious explorations within organizations who now see blockchain as a fundamentally more efficient way to do things,” Dunlap said. “As blockchain as a technology becomes more clearly defined away from applications like cryptocurrencies, which have been volatile, the practical benefits are starting to become more evident.”

Edited by Ken Briodagh



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