Columnist

How do ‘we’ show Joe Public that decentralisation isn’t big and scary?

JON WALSH: "Simply being excited and discussing solutions utilising blockchain with other blockchain people is no more than a wonderful echo chamber"

Following on from my last column exploring where we are, and how long it’s going to take before we see blockchain breaking through to the mainstream, I decided this time to take a look at what we – the blockchain enthusiasts and believers – can do to expedite the growth and adoption of this game-changing tech.

Understanding that the reality is that both the technology, and the knowledge and ability to apply blockchain fundamentals to an industry, is so immature, the only way we can drive this forward is through education – both ourselves and others.

I came to this understanding through my own desire to build a blockchain dApp to allow consumers to monetise their identity through marketing conversations with brands, and for brands to pinpoint perfectly the consumers they wish to engage with.

Having mapped out the schema for this I quickly realised that in a peer-to-peer world, the consumers would need to engage in the decision making for what offers and which brands they would allow to be part of this conversation – in short, if this wasn’t going to be decentralised, why would blockchain be necessary? However, consumers simply aren’t ready to not choose to trust in a centralised entity that takes care of them today.

This doesn’t mean this shouldn’t be built, it’s just that a) the timing of it coming out is important, and centralisation/decentralisation isn’t binary, but a path to move down.

Choice for the future?

So how are ‘we’ going to show Joe Public that decentralisation isn’t scary and hard work, but empowering and really the only choice for the future of businesses? To quote Tony Blair, “education, education, education”.

My way into the learning came from formal study. I was one of the thousand or so people that joined the Saïd Business School “Blockchain as a Strategy” first cohort back in March of this year – the learning and feedback was great, but when I got together in person with more of the alumni in June, I started to really learn by listening to other people’s views and thoughts. There are other courses available, but I felt that the brand of Saïd Business School brought me more credibility than another distance learning course without that brand.

Since then, and with my intellectual curiosity running at full steam, I have been a continual visitor to the various London based meet-ups and blockchain conferences and have been actively meeting with investors, entrepreneurs and employees in the space.

Right now you’re reading this column on Coin Rivet and potentially sharing with your network some of the articles that the journalists and columnists write. I still talk and share my thinkings in person, whether it be at the plethora of meet-ups or with friends and family (hi dad!), but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that none of this is enough to truly affect change.

Affecting change…

I am actively talking to non-blockchain people who hold senior roles who are blockchain curious enough to investigate how blockchain and DLT solutions could potentially some way to solve some of the issues their companies and industry have. I’ll be honest, some of these companies seem very worried about transparency in their supply chain could impact their bottom line and are merely paying lip service to this tech, where others are embracing it, knowing that blockchain is coming and it is better to be at the forefront affecting change rather than lagging behind. What I do see when I’m actually delivering blockchain as a strategy learning in businesses is both a real thirst for learning and a healthy cynicism as a pushback to the hype – this is all very healthy.

Simply being excited and discussing solutions utilising blockchain with other blockchain people is no more than a wonderful echo chamber. If we are going to be “the change we wish to see in the world”, then we need to be out there… Who are going to be the blockchain champions in Europe in the retail sector, the automotive sector, the pharmaceutical sectors? To name but a few.

For blockchain to gain consumer confidence and take up, it’s going to take leaders in the real economy to pick up this nascent technology and run with it – let’s show how blockchain isn’t vapourware, but genuine tech that can reduce inefficiencies in supply chains, validate provenance of products, and speed up payments for suppliers.

Even using blockchain as an enterprise solution will take some guts as it will require a degree of co-operation where formally competing business come together to create an industry consortia that adopts blockchain for the good of an ecosystem.

External impartiality…

We will know we are getting there when we no longer talk about blockchain the same way we no longer talk about dot.com’s and people are no longer collapsing blockchain with bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general.

So if you’re reading this site and you’re truly curious about what blockchain could deliver for your business, but you’ve never gone beyond reading or watching various talks on YouTube, I would encourage seeking out more experiential learning through the various courses, or even just talking to your colleagues in your business about the potential for bringing in external impartial consultants who could set you on the right track in an educated and balanced way.

Being a business today that is not considering the impact that blockchain could have is somewhat akin to the companies in the late 90s who didn’t believe that the internet would fundamentally impact their revenues – and now we have Amazon, Facebook and Google steamrollering all in their path.

The time is now for the blockchain klaxon to sound louder for real businesses in real industries.

JW

Twitter: @walshjonwalsh

LinkedIn: walshjon

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