Blockchain has become a buzzword for many corporations, but how can they get the most benefit out of it? Installing a blockchain is time consuming, but can be much more efficient, if used in the right way. Pauline Adam-Kalfon, Partner and Blockchain Lead at PwC, joined a panel of experts to discuss how blockchain can be used in a practical way in big corporations, and when it’s worth the effort.
1. Corporates shouldn’t “blockchain the world”
The panellists warned against using blockchain just to seem innovative. There are many instances where blockchain can really help companies, but as Maya Vujinovic emphasizes, “blockchain has no usage unless there are parties that don’t trust each other.” Tristan Thoma agrees that “a lot of times existing technologies actually aren’t broken enough to necessitate the investment of time in technology and development that would necessitate a blockchain.” Therefore, corporates should take the time to really learn about the technology, what the options are, and then decide whether or not it can help them to fulfill their purpose.
2. Will blockchain replace jobs?
A challenge for people who believe in blockchain, like Maya Vujinovic, is getting people who have been in corporations for many years to listen. She says that they often don’t “speak the same language,” are “pressured by quarterly reports,” and are afraid of losing jobs. Blockchain would probably replace some jobs, like accounting and engineering, but it doesn’t have to if the employees are correctly trained. They should also try to collaborate with entrepreneurs and specialists, and incorporate what they say into their business models instead of being complacent. Bibop Gresta also notes that getting employees with the right skills for blockchain can be a challenge, because people are stuck in the “cages” of their jobs and what they can do, and are therefore inflexible. He envisions that blockchain will be used, not to replace jobs, but to create a new model of society that is able to “share knowledge among companies, countries, even governments.”
3. How can blockchain redesign our society?
Blockchain shouldn’t be defined as just a new technology, because it’s actually a new distribution of trust. Philippe Honigman talks about how companies “cannot innovate with blockchain, but they can innovate with trust.” The introduction of blockchain into society implies a change in ideals and values, a change in who we trust. According to Bibop Gresta, that’s the “beautiful promise of blockchain – a redesign of our lives based on different values that we can introduce within society.” Gresta also philosophically challenges the way that our society is set up generally, including what we exchange for money, how much things cost, and how we value the wrong things. He adds, “when you have an opportunity to actually push the reset button of a system and reinvent it from scratch, you have a dramatic opportunity to actually improve the lives of people.”
4. How can blockchain be used to manage business with external stakeholders?
Philippe Honigman explains how although newer, more technical skills like tokenonomics, cryptoeconomics, and blockchain technology will definitely be required to build a successful blockchain project, many of the other skills required are “not that new.” This is because blockchain implementation will involve managing relationships with external stakeholders, therefore it will be important to “build an ecosystem and understand each stakeholder, what are the incentives, and what role they play.” Maya Vujinovic and Bibop Gresta also highlight the need for innovation teams to pay attention to what blockchain can do from a philosophic angle, because it’s really about identifying what problems it can actually solve instead of using it to update a technology system. Blockchain is also very effective for managing relationships with clients or other companies that have common goals. Tristan Thoma discusses how blockchain allows companies that have a similar goal to work together in a highly secure, decentralized way, like his project at Diginex Americas that “leverages pre-competitive collaboration” in order to fight modern slavery.
5. What is the best way for corporates to experiment with blockchain?
Many companies publish proof-of-concepts for blockchain, and some of the panellists think that is great because it encourages innovation and helps to determine what it can actually be used for. However, Maya Vujinovic thinks that since blockchain isn’t a technology, you can’t really have pilots for it, and that a lot of the time the people running the proof of concepts don’t really understand that blockchain is a “forcing mechanism to change processes.” She says using blockchain the correct way means fundamentally understanding what it does.
6. We are heading towards the decentralization of companies
Philippe Honigman also talks about how the traditional company structure is being “attacked,” because less and less employees are working in major corporations. He thinks that DAOs are allowing for a more “balanced structure of power” among different parties, instead of traditional hierarchical systems. Bibop Gresta expands on that idea, describing how a new, decentralized way of working makes it possible to “unleash human potential,” because one person can work on multiple projects and “tokenize” their time.
This was only an extract of some of the takeaways from the “How Can Corporates Leverage Blockchain on their Innovation Journey” panel. The full transcript of the panel is available below for more insights.