Most conversations about blockchain spur more questions than answers. That’s hardly surprising; the technology is relatively new, difficult to explain in a few words, and surrounded by a buzz that’s generating excitement about its possibilities as well as accusations of hype.
But this should likely be expected. Blockchain falls into the category of “foundational technologies”— as with the internet and personal mobile devices before it, it could transform not just what we can do, but how we do it, in fundamental ways.
As noted in Will blockchain transform the public sector?, the first paper in our blockchain basics for government series, a decision to employ blockchain is “not just a technology question—it is a decision that can transform business models and processes and reshape the set of stakeholders and their roles.”1 While its use in the financial sector gets most of the press, dozens of applications for blockchain are being explored by governments at all levels and around the globe. Our research has shown that technology is only one factor in successful blockchain applications—and not the most important one.
Thinking of blockchain only as software, a tool to solve a specific problem, limits our ability to understand its challenges and its potential. To make full use of blockchain—and to make it work for your organization—we should address a deeper set of questions, with answers extending across multiple domains.
Introduction: Working with a foundational technology
Three considerations for adopting blockchain
A promising test case: Intragovernmental transactions reconciliation and reporting
Characteristics of a strong blockchain application
Conclusion: The challenges and rewards of early adoption