At the end of last year, I looked at what worked and what didn’t. Here is what I learned this year, and my own blockchain resolutions for 2018.
I work with banking, financial services and insurance clients on blockchain. As you can imagine, this year was busy! While all these initiatives started with good intentions, some ended up not providing the value I had hoped — many things worked, and many didn’t. Now I want to share with you what I learned in 2017, and my own blockchain resolutions for 2018.
1. Lead with business
Like I tell my clients, “This is not about blockchain!” There is so much hype about bitcoin and blockchain that everyone wants to jump right in. Instead of a technology-led approach, your initiative in 2018 should be about an aspect of your business that would find the most benefit from an investment in blockchain: flight delay insurance or international money movement, for example. Talk the language of the people who will fund your initiative and start formulating how participants will spend or make money on the network. ZhongAn is an insurance company who sold 630 million policies to 150 million customers… in their first year! They did this by leveraging technology extensively! But they led with business.
2. Understand the network type
If you’re like most of my clients, you’re not looking for cryptocurrencies or public anonymous networks. So in the context of permissioned private networks, you have to understand the type of your network. Is it a peer network with your competitors, as in the case of subrogation claims? Is it an ecosystem with your own clients and partners, like a multinational insurance policy? Or is it a marketplace with buyers and sellers? Once you know the type of network, you can determine what your role will be as it evolves.
3. Understand the path to productive use
Moving beyond minimum viable product (MVP) is one of the biggest challenges I faced in 2017. The MVP is the first phase in the blockchain initiative where we build a product to prove our business hypothesis. At this stage, the network is small and we have high success rates. But then, in addition to the build, we need to lay the foundation for what’s next. Who are the participants we need to recruit? What are the industry groups we will work with? What are the legal implications? What is the market pilot and when do we launch? Being able to answer these questions will help you plan for the next steps in your implementation.