Is Blockchain a Game-Changing Technology or Merely Hype?

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There was a time — last winter — when simply changing a company’s name to something including the word “blockchain” could pump the stock by 400%. Remember Long Island Iced Tea becoming Long Blockchain?

A recent global survey of senior executives in seven countries by Deloitte found that nearly 39% of the 1,053 executives surveyed said blockchain was overhyped. In the United States, 44% of executives think blockchain is overhyped, an increase of 10 points over a similar survey conducted in 2016.

Deloitte’s analysts define blockchain as “just a sophisticated ledger system.” They add:

While it can provide more security and, in some cases, anonymity, the truth is that on its own, blockchain doesn’t actually do anything unless it is paired with a solid use case where it can serve as a sort of Trust-as-a-Service (TaaS) to ecosystem participants. Ultimately, it’s more of a business model enabler than a technology.

It’s the slow development of those use cases that is at least partly responsible for the perception that blockchain is overhyped. Deloitte notes that nearly three-quarters of survey respondents say their organizations see a “compelling business case” for using blockchain, but only 34% of companies have begun deploying a blockchain project.

More than a third of survey respondents say their organizations already have deployed a blockchain project and another 41% say they plan to deploy a production system within the next year. Nearly a third (32%) cite “greater speed” and 28% cite “new business models” as major drivers. Only 16% cite “lower costs.”

And costs seem to be a major hurdle. A third of respondents say that their projected return on investment in blockchain is “uncertain.” Deloitte thinks that should not be a killer:

In short, the only real mistake we believe organizations can make regarding blockchain right now is to do nothing. Even without a completely solid business case to implement, we believe that organizations should, at the very least, keep an eye on blockchain so that they can take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

The full report is available at the Deloitte website.

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