Technologist and hands-on leader with cloud and big data expertise. Currently, exploring various techniques to use Blockchain.
There is no doubt that bringing together amazing engineers/programmers and salespeople can be challenging. There is a need for a bridge between technologists and businesspeople to make life easier when it comes to implementing any new technology because, at the end of the day, all the technology investments need to be translated into some type of business outcome (i.e., having more features in a product, better services, secure platforms to store and exchange information, etc.)
Blockchain has been around for roughly a decade, yet confusion still surrounds it because there is the common misunderstanding that blockchain is Bitcoin or some other type of cryptocurrency. Also, there is the idea that it’s a new technology and that it’s in the early stages of development, so having blockchain as part of an enterprise solution may not be a good idea.
Businesses want their technology teams to figure out creative ways to provide faster and more accurate information for their end users, customers, vendors and any other line of business within the organization or outside of the organization. Besides the workforce challenge, the lack of knowledge about blockchain technologies makes it difficult to find a true use case within an organization that matches perfectly with the technology.
Let’s see what the challenges on the technology front are:
Choosing The Right Technology
Nowadays, there is so much marketing about blockchain and various technologies that claim to be applicable to blockchain that a lack of genuine information about how other companies are using it creates a blurry picture when it comes to the actual execution. It’s very important to perform your own research and go beyond the marketing stories to understand how a particular company or organization implemented its blockchain solution. A reference architecture diagram is a good place to start, and then see if a business use case story fits well with the feasibility of integrating various enterprise technology pieces with blockchain.
Ways To Filter
The challenge of adding or removing technologies based on the proof of concept is still an option, but how to do it in a smart way without spending way too much time and money on just running various proofs of concepts could be a challenge. There is a need because of the lack of an enterprise-ready software that can provide access to various blockchains and enable developers to execute smart contracts to test and fail fast.
Should I Reinvent The Wheel?
In general, the answer is almost always no, but let’s find out the relevance of this question to blockchain. Most of the blockchain technologies are open source, and developers can customize them and start developing solutions on top of them. But the most important question to answer is based on the first challenge I touched on and then how to take the chosen technology and bring it to production. Based on my experience, there is a strong need for software as a service, which can provide a productive, cost-effective and simple approach to have blockchain as part of an enterprise solution. There are companies such as Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft that are providing blockchain as a service and using creative ways to write smart contracts.
Choosing The Right Technology Partner
This goes without saying that you get what you pay for. The challenge is to find a partner company that has a proven track record of working with and implementing blockchain rather than someone who’s just using a marketing ploy. During my Blockchain discussions and implementations, I have also focused on talking to technical people to learn, and I have also focused heavily on partners’ technical stories and experience.
Here are some key points to consider when looking for a potential partner:
- Look to see if they have an open-source footprint/involvement.
- Make sure they have a technical team structure.
- Read any of their technical blogs, and find out more about their lessons learned or mistakes made during the solution implementation.
Learning From Others’ Lessons
Lesson (Calico Spanish)
As discussed in my second point, there is a lack of true information on other organizations’ production stories, and that creates a challenge about deciding on what technology to use and which practical use cases to emulate. Even so, you should still perform the following:
- Conduct smart Q&A sessions with technology partners help to design a better solution.
- Understand the business use cases or pain points of a particular product, and then get to the point of why and how blockchain helped to solve the problem.
- Research thoroughly to pick the right technology partner, as mentioned above.
Building A Center of Excellence (COE)
As I discussed in a previous post, blockchain is going to gain strong momentum in a year or so — just as artificial intelligence and machine learning have risen to prominence over the last couple of years. As we are starting to see more implementations of blockchain, there is a lack of access to genuine blockchain experts. COE plays a key role, and the structure of COE varies from the organization to organization, but at the generic level, you can imagine having a product manager or project manager at the core and business and technology people communicating to the core. The core helps to build the bridge between various people involved.
Blockchain is a disruptive technology, and understanding the use of it in a correct way is challenging because there’s a lot of confusion with cryptocurrencies and other challenges. As is the case with any new technology, you’ll need to step outside your comfort zone to embrace it, but it’s up to you to follow the tips I laid out here to truly understand if blockchain is right for your company.