Few innovations are garnering as much interest or attention as blockchain technology. Initially developed as the networking and accounting backbone for Bitcoin, the blockchain has proven to be so competent in this role that it’s quickly expanding beyond the crypto space, becoming one of the most sought-after technologies across virtually every industry.
A 2018 PwC survey of 600 executives spanning 15 territories found that 84% of respondents are actively involved in blockchain technology, and the World Economic Forum anticipates that as much as 10% of the global GDP could be stored on the blockchain by 2027.
In many ways, it’s evident that we are heading toward a decentralized future, but it’s one that we are not imminently ready to embrace.
In Deloitte’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, the consulting firm concluded: “While blockchain is not quite ready for primetime, it is getting closer to its breakout moment every day.”
Here are three things preventing the blockchain’s mass adoption and some of the solutions that are making it increasingly apparent that the blockchain is getting ready for the big stage.
The blockchain is known for its decentralized network that distributes the computing requirements and storage capacity among hundreds or thousands of computers. Unfortunately, this also serves as a problematic metaphor for the technology. The blockchain sector is comprised of dozens of different private and public blockchains that frequently don’t cooperate or communicate with one another.
The MIT Technology Review presciently described this ecosystem as “a petri dish full of bacteria. They keep multiplying, but they don’t seem headed toward any kind of higher-order organism.”
This problem is only exacerbated when centralized, web-based platforms are added to the mix.
To put it simply, for blockchain to truly flourish, it needs to provide incredible capabilities and, it needs to communicate with other blockchain and non-blockchain products and services.
Companies like MESG, which provides technology agnostic connectivity services and a protocol marketplace, are beginning to solve for this shortcoming. The MESG engine connects disparate blockchains and non-blockchain services, so that these technologies can be as usable and adaptable as possible. At the same time, the MESG marketplace provides a financial incentive for developers to produce additional connective protocols while delivering them to companies in a single location.
Meanwhile, Polkadot, a platform focused on connecting blockchain platforms, is helping create cohesion throughout the decentralized ecosystem.
The blockchain’s mass adoption is dependent on connectivity between blockchains and with non-blockchain platforms, something MESG and Polkadot are working hard to produce.
Although it feels novel, the blockchain has been around for a decade, and it’s receiving considerably more attention than it did in 2008. Therefore, many blockchain experts, including Ehtereum’s Vitalik Buterin, are worried about the technology’s ability to keep up with demand.
For the blockchain to serve as a true enterprise solution, it must meet or exceed existing networking capabilities.
EOS, a blockchain platform for decentralized apps, is trying to solve the blockchain’s scalability issues. The platform deploys several tools including parallel processing, vertical scaling, and horizontal scaling, and these methods might make the decentralized ecosystem more feasible.
For large enterprise initiatives, one of the stalwarts of the technology revolution, IBM, has a blockchain project that hopes to provide blockchain services to any industry pursuing adoption. IBM’s Hyperledger is an enterprise-ready blockchain platform that the company claims is optimized for scalability.
The blockchain’s decentralized network offers meaningful improvements to security, transferability, and auditability – three features that are indelibly important in our current problematic digital moment.
However, these features are meaningless if the platforms themselves are not usable. As a new and novel technology, the blockchain has to demonstrate that it’s easy-of-use and can rival its centralized peers, something achieved through experience and developmental intentionality.
In other words, as more users and organizations attain first-hand experience with the blockchain, its usability will become more pronounced and significant. In some cases, developers can solve for this by making blockchain-based platforms as intuitive as possible. At the same time, the work of connective platforms MESG and Polkadot combined with the scaling work of EOS and IBM make the blockchain more useful in more scenarios.
Most importantly, the blockchain is on the precipice of mass adoption, and very few shortcomings are holding it back. With companies beginning to provide meaningful solutions, the blockchain could be making the transition from the next big thing to the most important thing.