Enterprise Blockchain — It’s not when, it’s why?
It’s been a decade since the birth of Bitcoin: A P2P Electronic Cash System. A system so powerful, it is touted by many as the most secure computer network in the world today. A system, built on the power of math mixed with social engineering constructs such as game theory and mechanism design. A system which took fallible human beings, and turned them into trust worthy citizens by making them play by the rules of the system, let’s call them — ”homo truthians”.
It’s Bitcoin, the first killer app of Blockchain Technology which has single handedly ignited global debate which hedge ‘blockchains’ as Internet 2.0, a value driving machine which will transform business, and all related functions including making the impossible possible.
The hype cycle has nearly hit critical mass though — we are starting to get back to the fact blockchain’s are just data structures which combined a clever set of additional properties in a concoction that offers an outstanding solution to digital commerce.
The advancements to date are the outcome of a decade of intelligent developers busting their guts to try, and really bloody try make it work. The rest is just used car salesmen and rubbish conferences charging consumers far too much just to be relevant — Dot Com Boom much?
It is time to be real with each other. It won’t revolutionise everything, replace all and become this impenetrable force which can be used for complex business pipelines to peanut butter toast. It is not magic, however for the non mathematically minded Zk-SNARKS and Bulletproofs practically are.
So what might be worthy of such tech:
- Collectibles (Non Fungible Assets)
- Supply Chains
- Decentralised Storage (a very expensive one)
So what might not be then:
- AI/ML/NLP infused wearable blockchains — we have all read at least one whitepaper claiming such
- Any company that uses advertising like the below to fool consumers…IBM
The above grinds my gears harder than a 16yo learning to drive a manual car!
The IBM Linux Z Series Servers are no doubt performant, scalable and well renowned work horses. Proven by those poor enterprises still maintaining a COBOL mainframe with gorgeous black and green screens.
However we all know Blockchains are not 100% encrypted, hell it’s inferring that all calculations performed inside the server, while also on chain is 100% homomorphically encrypted. Possible on a server, the best kind, yet not proven nor scalable on blockchains — so what is it they are even referring to?
Let’s get back to basics
The fact of the matter is after we start getting back to what makes Bitcoin and other Blockchain’s networks valuable it is their use of:
- Social Engineering
- Cryptographic Primitives
- Byzantine Fault Tolerance
- Incentives & Disincentives
- Game Theory & Mechanism Design
All public networks to be successful, to grow exponentially through network effects have to build complex societal systems within the underlying blockchain protocol architecture.
However why I brought you here is my concern around Enterprises, Consortiums and the like proposing blockchains for everything.
Permissioned blockchain networks are like corporate intranets, only useful for those within. Publishing blocks in such networks must be authorised by some authority (centralised or decentralised), therefore is maintained by such. They still share many of the same exciting properties of their permissionless counterparts including consensus models albeit less expensive to maintain due to their controlled smaller trusted network.
However, I am still perplexed as someone who has gone through and read hundreds of white papers, researched key findings and listened to men and women far smarter than I as to what these consulting companies and even businesses think their ROI will be.
It certainly isn’t user experience (UX), the fact they sell it to their executive as “Oh we will be using a blockchain, or distributed ledger” screams that it’s ill researched, will be poorly implemented and render lack lustre results.
This isn’t a piece against Distributed Ledgers, Blockchains, Directed Acyclic Graphs or any other gossip protocol which will be the transactional flavour of the month. This is about VALUE. What are these businesses intending to deliver to consumers, to stakeholders.
Jimmy Song, and many other highly educated folk have tried, tested and found out the hard way that codifying based on the different protocols and models such as UTXO, or any other protocol for permissioned chains without the use case being solid, is an absolute waste of time.
There is a 1001 different databases, languages, libraries and support available to deliver slick, responsive, gorgeous business interfaces and complex logic, run on prem or in the cloud for 99.9% of the business processes that exist today. So please, do me a favour, don’t believe the salesmen or women.
Spend time to evaluate what is your use case?
Why does your business need it?
Then go and answer the questions below:
If you are still here, after going through the questions then think about this,
- Stand up a small multi disciplinary team (MDT)
- Use an agile methodology employing the best of Scrum, Kanban and Sprints.
- Establish a CI/CD pipeline
- Get help!
I have spent so much time in this space, educating myself, others, and offering my time to attend and speak at conferences to make sure we continue to deliver something worthwhile. To attempt to stop ICO’s raising millions for poorly formed ideas and inherently flawed cryptoeconomic structures.
So please, take your time, I want to see you and your business win — but for the right reasons.
Thanks for reading,
- Benjamin Hall – Senior Business Systems Analyst – Agile (SAFe) – Australian Government Department of Human Services | LinkedIn
- Crypto Catch Up
Enterprise Blockchain — It’s not when, it’s why? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.