If Blockchain Is the Answer, What Is the Question?

At the time of writing, blockchain is probably at peak hype. Blockchain-based currencies, startup projects and more recently Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs – cryptocurrency fundraisings) are attracting billions of dollars. In November 2016, the World Economic Forum met to discuss blockchain governance models. Many public- and private-sector organizations are experimenting with using blockchain, including the Swedish Land Registry, Visa and Nasdaq; and of course many technology and advisory companies (including IBM and Samsung) are providing products and services to help them. The country of Estonia, in particular, has been very bullish in exploring a wide variety of blockchain-centric approaches to government services.

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Meanwhile the marketplace in general seems to be at peak confusion, asking: What exactly is blockchain? Is it the same as bitcoin? What is Ethereum? And so on. The ‘blockchain explaining’ sub-industry is also maxing out at the moment, with hundreds of primers, perspectives, courses and books available.

Despite the hype, the opportunity is genuinely very exciting. The challenge is that blockchain is both rather complex to understand from a technical point of view, and rather abstract from a business point of view – it could be used for a wide variety of things.

In this short Position Paper, we set out Leading Edge Forum’s current perspective on the blockchain universe. Influenced by Clayton Christensen’s recent work on ‘jobs to be done’, we aim to answer the question: What jobs can blockchain do for you? Read more.

This Position Paper first appeared on Leading Edge Forum in August 2017.

Dave Aron

Author: Dave Aron

Dave Aron, based in the UK, is Global Research Director for Leading Edge Forum.  In this position, he guides a series of global research initiatives aimed at helping CIOs and other Business/ IT leaders reimagine their organizations and leadership for a tech-driven future.

Dave’s key areas of research include digital business, strategy and new business models.  Previously, Dave spent more than 12 years at Gartner, as a Gartner Fellow, focusing on strategy and CIO leadership issues.  Dave has more than 30 years’ experience in the IT business and has been writing, speaking and teaching on digital business, IT strategy and other topics around the world for more than a decade.

Dave holds a BSc in Computer Science from Queen Mary College, and an MBA from London Business School.

Dave’s alter ego is Mu, The 21st Century Anti-Strategist, which comprises Dave’s distilled thoughts about what doesn’t make sense as 20th century organizations sleepwalk into the 21st century.