Based on my studies of multiple blockchain projects, I have uncovered a key ingredient to the success of such projects. Despite what everyone thinks, this is an extremely important topic. This article provides blockchain pioneers in their companies with insight into how to embrace blockchain technology and get support from the community for a successful implementation.
On the role of community
It helps to create a community of enthusiasts that would help define the use cases. On his part, Doug McCollough started the Dublin blockchain group. He wanted to bring together tech companies and individuals in the Dublin area interested in blockchain, who were probably experimenting behind the scenes. With that effort, a few companies started emerging as the ones who were passionate about blockchain.
The group’s activities helped start the conception of the idea about what would be a great use case for how the government could be using blockchain to create value for its citizens. And now, the Dublin blockchain group helps create a sense of community and accelerates learning among people who are curious about blockchain technology and are experimenting in the background.
On the role of Center of Excellence
Besides community building outside the company, investing in innovation teams internally looking at various use cases for blockchain will go a long way. Organize them into a community of practice or center of excellence. To respond to industry challenges, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) identified an opportunity in blockchain quite early. And they were prepared to spend some budget at the beginning to play with and test blockchain, which was something new that was coming up.
Very early on, they had engineering teams look at the technology and get used to it. It then got to a point where it was clear that there were enough use cases to justify investing in a community of practice with its center of excellence around blockchain.
“And that would be my number one piece of advice to any organization early on in their journey or starting to commercialize projects on the blockchain. You’ll have different technological camps sitting there and saying, ‘I like iPhone; I like Samsung.’ You are going to have the same viewpoints to blockchain technology,” explains Andrew Speers.
How Centers of Excellence help
Identify use cases
At the beginning of your blockchain journey, the company will have a limited understanding of commercializing new technology. Having it run through a centralized function focusing on blockchain technology helps evaluate the use case more robustly. This will also help identify the proper use cases to pursue as you start your blockchain journey. On their part, State Farm began to look at blockchain in 2016. As Dustin Helland explains, “We were able to pretty quickly identify that the blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin could have applications much broader than just cryptocurrency and we established a group in innovation area to prioritize and explore potential opportunities.”
Accelerate organizational learning
Because you are working with competitors, there is a need for a new way of organizational thinking for blockchain projects. An approach leading with education and collaboration will help, and the community can help with the whole process. For State Farm, initially, the teams focused on working across multiple business lines—for example, subject matter experts in the claims department, underwriting, financial services, etc.—to educate them on the capabilities of the technology. They also worked to identify and evaluate any potential use cases that State Farm thought might be of value.
The focus then shifted into learning by aligning a few of the identified business opportunities with some development teams and created early prototypes. Eventually, they moved to a stage where the focus was on product delivery and business value realization based on the technology. The flagship project out of those efforts is Auto Claims Subrogation, built collaboratively with USAA.
On the role of change agents
In addition to community, it takes a change agent who can be one of the early people in a company that is evangelizing the emerging technology forward. It helps if they are trusted and knowledgeable within the organization. They need to be subject matter experts who understand this technology and what it makes possible. Blockchain technology reaches into the depths of an organization’s plumbing. It’s essential to take the time to spread the gospel of blockchain.
By building communities made up of people who are blockchain enthusiasts, you can promote blockchain adoption. With blockchain technology, success is based on building a business network. Consequently, focusing on community needs to be done both externally and internally. Despite the fact that it is an invisible detail now, it could have a long-term impact on the success of your blockchain project. Start early to create a strong brotherhood. It's a blast hanging with other blockchain enthusiasts. Your organizational learning on blockchain will quickly go into high gear.
This was a major surprise to me as I was researching blockchain adoption. Initially, I did not understand the nature of blockchain adoption success - it is the "Frenemies" that make it successful. Most enterprise technology initiatives are internally focused, which makes blockchain technology projects unique. The company doesn't have to spend as much time building the external community.
You can start your own community like Doug McCollough. Ask the community what use cases we should focus on. Involve the community in the education of you company leaders. Community members can help with change management and training others. This will greatly strengthen the technology adoption efforts.
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