Since the rise of Bitcoin more than a decade ago, companies have been trying to harness the potential of blockchain technology for enterprise applications. Industries that used to operate in silos are becoming increasingly connected, and the lines of where one ecosystem ends and another begins are blurring. In this connected age, blockchain can provide organizations with new opportunities to share and collaborate with their partners, other industry-players, government organizations and even academia.
On a more tangible front, integration would ultimately help establish new end-customer experience possibilities and establish new revenue streams. Especially, as we continue to navigate forward in the midst of COVID-19, enterprises are looking for innovative ways to adapt their business to best operate in the new world. Beyond that, supply chain operations are more critical than ever before. Across industries, maintaining a steady flow of essential goods, protective equipment and much more is critical to the health and safety of our frontline workers. Blockchain can help manage this flow and mitigate risks, helping deliver on that need for instant agile flexibility.
Understanding the Opportunities
Use cases are innumerable and it’s impossible to ignore the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as we discuss the potential applications for any technology. In the short-term, blockchain provides an added layer of transparency and data accuracy — minimizing the risk for any potential fallout from supply and value chain disruption during this time. With this transparency and data accuracy comes improved tracking of important supplies and materials such as PPE and ventilators, streamlined patient consent and triage capabilities for overwhelmed hospital staff and much more.
With that, the applications will only continue to expand as industry operations return to normal in the hopefully-near future. Government agencies can develop a seamless international credit bureau, for example. As it stands, different countries have different processes and standards for credit scores or distribution of stimulus funding. With blockchain, governments could potentially develop a universal credit system that allows for international travelers and frequent movers to reap the benefits of their positive credit scores, no matter where they are.
Manufacturers can use blockchain to truly optimize their supply chain operations — understanding as much information about a purchase order throughout the lifecycle of a product or part. Take a heavy equipment manufacturer, for example. Blockchain provides access to data that will allow them to understand how their equipment is being used by their customers, when each particular piece of machinery will need maintenance, how to optimize predictive and emergency repair and replacement services, and more — all while understanding and contextualizing what the impact of these external operations will have on its own internal supply chain as well. In today’s world, this information is especially valuable for manufacturers who are shifting their focus to help support the development of PPE and other COVID-19 response essentials.
Within banking and financial services, cross-bank and cross-border transfers are exponentially streamlined with blockchain integration. Instead of requiring validation and authentication from intermediaries, blockchain allows for instant transfers, with the same level of security and assurance. From a functionality standpoint, this also brings an added layer of convenience for both the end-user and the banks involved. These same conveniences provide a crucial layer of service during times of crisis as well. Through blockchain integration, stimulus allocation can be instantly approved and deposited into bank accounts for all citizens, regardless of existing banking preferences like direct deposit.
Similarly, in the education sector, blockchain can make it easier for student records to be transferred between universities and other academic institutions — whether a student plans to transfer a few credits, transfer full-time or study abroad.
These are just a few of the many use cases for enterprise blockchain. So, what’s keeping them from becoming mainstream?
Acknowledging the Barriers of Entry
While the benefits are undeniable, adoption has been slow. But there is definitely interest, and adoption can soon surge. Gartner reported back in 2018 that business value added by blockchain adoption is projected to reach a whopping $3.1 trillion by 2030. But, only 10% of businesses will undergo radical blockchain-driven transformation by 2022.
Why is adoption slow to start? Companies are dipping their toes into the water, but studies have shown that a majority of enterprises are holding back due to regulatory uncertainty (48%), trust issues (45%) and an inability to bring partners together to build a network (44%). Other studies have reported that the “very high” difficulty in platform selection, a lack of in-house expertise on use case development and questions about privacy are the top barriers of entry.
What will change between now and 2030? How will these concerns be directly addressed? To answer this, it is important to note that these barriers of entry derive from a lack of foundational understanding of blockchain. More education will come, and more experts will rise. That said, integration doesn’t happen overnight. Blockchain, like any other emerging technology, takes time to integrate at scale.
It’s understandable why companies are hesitant to go all in at the moment — as organizations are often strapped for resources, and the talent that is needed to build a blockchain platform from scratch is hard to come by. That said, those who don’t invest early are likely to be left behind by thriving early-adopters. Luckily, there is a solution to the challenges that are holding adoption back — one that takes away the need for resource expenditure and dedicated developer teams.
Low-code development platforms allow enterprises to reap the benefits of complex code, without the need to dedicate valuable time and resources toward development from the ground-up. “Plug and play” customization allows them to address specific needs within their organization, and prioritize implementation on a smaller scale without the stress of diving head-first into an infrastructural overhaul.
Especially during our ongoing COVID-19 crisis, low-code eliminates the need for large dev teams to develop new software applications, allowing for a streamlined, timely transition as organizations dedicate their valuable resources elsewhere to help minimize the negative impact of COVID-19 on their workforce and their surrounding communities.
Beyond this epidemic, these benefits provide risk-averse C-level decision makers with an easy and confident investment opportunity, as well as disruptive tools that deliver on the growing need for constant innovation — in an era where agility and digital transformation are now a necessity. In fact, the main reasoning behind an organization’s low-code adoption is to accelerate said digital transformation and increase responsiveness to the business (66%, respectively).
Low-code directly addresses the aforementioned barriers of entry that come with blockchain investment — or any complex, resource-dependent software investment for that matter. With low-code, even non-developers can build high-tech applications. Devs are often expensive and good talent is often hard to come by. Because of this, the ability to get the same quality output with minimal input is extremely valuable.
Beyond the simple cost and scarcity of good talent, dev teams often have significant backlogs, which make it hard for them to keep up with industry and business demands. There are benefits of having a non-developer heavily ingrained in the development process as well, as they will have an overall better understanding of the function that the application will serve, and how it fits into the overall business structure.
Bridging Together Low-Code and Blockchain
Upon evaluation of the barriers of entry that keep blockchain from widespread adoption, as well as the glaring benefits that low-code programming brings to enterprises with limited resources and talent, the potential for low-code blockchain to minimize enterprise concerns and justify investment is obvious.
By reducing the need for dedicated network developers that would originally be required to build the blockchain platform from the ground-up, enterprises can build and maintain a trusted network with clicks, not code. Users will be able to create and share blockchain objects with familiar functionality — essentially interacting with the platform in the same way they would interact with any CRM data object.
The simplicity and ease of use of low-code blockchain makes it so that trusted networks can grow organically, faster. Integration across the entire partner network is simple and can be completed with just a few clicks — making it easier to bring new third-parties on board to join the trusted network, ultimately making the blockchain platform and user network exponentially more valuable in the long-term.
Blockchain adoption will undoubtedly pick up steam, aided by the low-code capabilities that now exist. The minimized risk and resource expenditure that comes with low-code will make blockchain adoption much more appealing to those who are currently skeptical. Additionally, once low-code serves as the entry-point for enterprise adoption, organizations will begin to expand upon the capabilities of their own blockchain networks — and ultimately drive further innovation.
Eventually, we’ll see new ecosystem partnerships forming, and end-customer experiences improving. Early leaders will become more comfortable with the idea of experimenting with new, previously unimaginable use cases of their own.
Looking Ahead to 2030
We are approaching a turning point with blockchain in the enterprise. Low-code development platforms will provide enterprises with the opportunity to adopt blockchain technology with minimal risk and proven ROI. As more enterprises build trusted networks through low-code blockchain, industry-agnostic innovation will elevate all participating organizations and deliver truly exceptional results — for both, the network partners and their end-customers as well.
The blockchain hype is justified. We have been searching for a way to manifest its potential without over-complicating the process of bringing it to life. Low-code does just this, without fault.