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Be prepared for blockchain, says consultant

The blockchain endgame is unclear, but organisations should ensure they are aware of what is happening at the very least, says consultant Sebastien Meunier

Whether or not organisations believe blockchain has a future, they should ensure they are prepared in case it takes off, according to Sebastien Meunier, management consultant at Chappius Halder & Co.

The distributed ledger technology underlying the bitcoin crypto-currency has come under increasing scrutiny since 2014, but continues to divide opinion.

By providing a distributed database that stores a permanent and tamper-proof ledger of transaction data, blockchain could revolutionise the security and the financial services industry.

“While some believe blockchain can change everything, others are more cautious, but everyone should be aware,” Meunier told the European Identity & Cloud Conference 2016 in Munich.

Although the endgame is still unclear, he believes organisations would be unwise to ignore it and should be doing everything they can to ensure they are not blindsided.

According to Meunier, the next six to 18 months will see the first large-scale proof of concept implementations and the emergence of efforts to build some standards. The standards could be achieved at a global level in the next two to three years, by which time large partnerships are likely to have emerged.

In as little as four years, he said there could be mainstream adoption of blockchain, causing major, industry-wide disruptions.

At the very least, Meunier said organisations should ensure they are developing internal awareness of the technology and conducting relevant internal training.

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In addition, he urged organisations to identify potential use cases and experiment with proof of concept implementations, as well as collaborate with peers in industry groups.

Organisations can experiment by building a distributed ledger at industry group level, using existing public distributed ledgers to store “proofs” outside the firewall and building distributed applications, or building a private distributed ledger at group level.

“By engaging early, organisations can ensure that they will be ready for the disruption, if and when it happens,” said Meunier.

“Organisations should do their best to anticipate the change by analysing the potential impacts of blockchain on their IT, processes and organisational structure. They should then be developing a strategy by defining priorities and building a roadmap,” he said.

Meunier said although it is still “early days” for blockchain technology and there are several hot topics for debate, such as identity management and legal and compliance issues, it should be taken seriously.

As a business enabler, he said it was unlikely to simply go away and, for the same reason, should be approached from a business perspective.

“Make sure you are aware of what is happening on the blockchain front, that you identify potential use cases and that you experiment to ensure you are in the best position,” said Meunier.

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