Blockchain, from promise to payoff

A Framework for Blockchain Innovation

How should leadership teams strategize and implement blockchain solutions?

Joining from Istanbul, Oliver Bussmann of Bussmann Advisory offered an innovation framework for companies exploring blockchain and its many potential use cases.

To start, business leaders need to zero in those use cases that align with their business strategy.

“Agree on the focus areas,” he said, “and have a small team scanning the market. Find out what’s available from a capability and technology perspective, and leverage internal and external advice.”

Another critical piece of the blockchain puzzle? “It’s all about collaboration in the ecosystem,” Bussmann answered. “Collaboration in networks, starting in industry networks, and then much more in cross-industry collaboration through consortia.”

A key reason for collaboration, he added, is that technologies are blending together. “In our experience,” he said, “there isn’t only one use case to watch. We see a conversion of these emerging technologies. Especially leveraging smart contracts and distributed ledger, with the Internet of Things.”

That will demand new talents. “These are skills and expertise that in many companies it’s hard to find,” Bussmann added.

Financial services, for example, will need to align with the Internet of Things.

“We are going through a next computing phase called edge computing,” said Bussmann, “with all the processing power at the edge. Financial services will be embedded, along with other technologies like machine learning and robotics.”

But business leaders can’t just focus on technology.

“Blockchain’s not a technology play,” he said. “It’s about what kind of business based on the strategy can we utilize, and what is the impact at the end.”

Beyond that, Bussman advised, “use those business model changes as a funding gate to provide a competitive way to budget those ideas.” And, just as important, to secure buy-in from top executives.

In the end, Bussman reminded, blockchain is not a 100-percent mature technology.

“Out of three or four blockchain processes,” Bussmann warned, “maybe one or two will be successful. There’s still a learning curve on this technology, on the business models. So you need to manage risk taking.”

Managing that risk will take careful strategy — and leadership.

“This disruption is big,” Bussmann concluded. “How you do this is important, and it’s not just a playground. It needs orchestration, it needs leadership.”