10 Things to Know About Blockchain

January 24, 2023

Web3 means business in 2023. Are blockchain-enabled digital ecosystems right for your company or industry? Technology expert Willayna Banner outlines the questions each business should ask, and the 10 things to to know about blockchain.

Web3 Means Business

Can blockchain-enabled digital ecosystems transform a business or industry? Willayna Banner, head of the Web3/Blockchain, Cloud for Industry, Global Expansion Team for Microsoft, thinks so. Is it the direction all businesses should take? Maybe not. Banner took the stage at the D2 Summit to explain how blockchain-enabled digital ecosystems can transform a business or industry. “Blockchain is really being used by organizations to aid in the adoption of digital ecosystems. It provides compelling capabilities that enable interaction of people and things that may render existing models really obsolete or really truly ineffective over time,” explains Banner. A blockchain-enabled digital ecosystem is a value network that harnesses the unique capabilities of blockchain, such as data self-sovereignty, tamper-resistant data, peer-to-peer data collaboration, and distributed governance. “Building these blockchain-enabled ecosystems—it’s hard, hypercomplex. And perhaps even harder than the technology itself is convincing stakeholders across your company that they should care,” says Banner. Banner outlined the top 10 key considerations to take into account before approaching your company’s leadership about incorporating blockchain technology into your business strategy.

Top 10 Key Considerations
  1. Demystify blockchain for your business and technology leaders. “There are many misconceptions of what the technology can do, and what it cannot do. I would offer that it is not the panacea of all things that might ail you or your company, so choose wisely what those use cases might be,” she says. Banner recommends organizing education and envisioning workshops with key leaders to demonstrate the technology’s potential. Be prepared to articulate blockchain in business terms where the results are very clear and trackable.

2. Limit abstract buzzword usage. Abandon words like “trust systems” and “decentralization,” which Banner calls abstract, and removed from any value statement that your company and leadership care about. She suggests that you instead focus on how blockchain can solve challenges and create opportunities for your business.

3. Look for new forms of value exchange. Don’t just focus on your existing business-to-business relationships; identify new business models. “Remember: Value isn’t always just monetary. It can include compliance, risk mitigation, reputational value, information, and other nonmonetary exchanges. In some cases, those aspects can actually be equally or even more valuable in parts of your digital ecosystem,” she says.

4. Branch out—you don’t have to have all the ideas. Gain inspiration from other industries. See what they’re doing with the technology. Examine what wins might have happened in another space and see if those are applicable to yours as well. “Someone else’s transformation journey (lessons) likely can be adapted to maybe some of your specific use cases and transferred to your industry space,” says Banner.

5. Create a compelling vision. “Like anything else, blockchain ecosystems require a structure and roadmap that will support and anticipate current and future participant needs,” explains Banner. Blockchain is just a different kind of “how” that can be more effective and efficient for some use cases in some So be clear on the why and the what and the business problem you are trying to solve.

6. Recognize blockchain is only a component of the ecosystem. There are still other technologies that are vital as well.

7. Be open to the complexities. Blockchain-enabled digital ecosystems are largely in constant so be open to those complexities. They can be confusing, misleading, and difficult to analyze. Stay mindful of where the government is headed in this space because that will likely have implications to blockchain technology.

8. Have a deliberate business model and need. Blockchain-enabled digital ecosystems are designed to address one of three general business areas: legal, economic, or organizational processes. There are three common models. The founder-led model is one in which a single company defines, architects, builds, owns, and operates the solution. This model is generally typified by speed-to-market pressures, compliance needs, or competitive advantage considerations. The second model is partnership-driven, in which an exclusive group of companies shares decision-making authority as a joint venture. The companies have a mutual financial incentive for success. And the third model is the industry-driven model, which is designed to be a nonbiased ecosystem led by elected representatives and focused on a specific industry.

9. Avoid low-value and relevant quick hits. Don’t be lulled into acting quickly. You should have a clear understanding of the technology before moving forward.

10. Get out of the lab. To avoid what has been called “blockchain fatigue,” Banner suggests you have a plan to rapidly move from the proof-of-concept stage to a controlled pilot to an introduction-to-production environment.

Banner recommends that businesses move mindfully into the blockchain space. “Not every company must be a first mover to be successful,” she says. The very foundational thing that makes one company successful makes it that much harder to disrupt itself for innovation. She says you should consider, “What muscle memory needs to be disrupted for this technology to be adopted and sustained in your business.” To learn more about what Banner says, not only about blockchain-enabled digital ecosystems but also the metaverse, its history, uses, and experiences, watch her presentation here.

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