Blockchain isn't hot sauce

The definitive executive guide to understanding WTF blockchain is AND why you should care.

Note — This is a brief executive guide because as an executive, you have better things to do than get a new degree in yet another decades old “emerging” technology.


What is blockchain? Think of it as a group text message. Those annoying times when you have twenty or hundred people talking about something. Where some people have names, some have numbers and they’re all actually just sharing data. Data can be anything from text, photo, meme, video or hotel reservations. A blockchain is immutable and distributed, just like your group text message. Send a classic Friday Happy Hour NSFW photo to a group text. Even if you delete it on your cell phone, it still exist on everyone else’s. That’s the essence of distributed ledger technology (DLT), aka blockchain. Shared, distributed, immutable data.

What can you do with blockchain? As a ledger it records and shares data (remember that photo you can’t really delete?) Blockchain actually works well for anything you want to keep track of: cryptocurrencies, money, medical records, equity, inventories, transcripts, ownership, etc.

Can I “blockchain” everything? No. Blockchain isn’t hot sauce, you can’t put that shit on everything. Most of the time you just need a database. Let’s face it, not everyone wants nor needs to see your NSFW happy hour photos and occasionally you do need to be able to delete stuff.

So why is this important? Blockchain, aka Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), enables strangers to share data, on an ownerless network. WTF do you mean, “ownerless network?” Take Bitcoin, the most famous blockchain. It’s worth is about $350B and has no CEO, shareholders, Board, lunch lady or friendly employees of any sort. But it is still worth a few hundred billion dollars. Bitcoin is a 9-year-and-counting experiment in open sourced community building. It also proves that you can have a Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO). This means, a thing is worth a lot, but has no CEO, employees or shareholders.

To make more sense of it, what would happen if your employees could be incentivized to continue to do their job but they didn’t need you, the “company” or its corporate structure? This is why blockchain is so potentially disruptive. It eliminates YOU. Especially if you’re a bank, financial institution or really a middleman of any sort.

Conclusion

No, the sky is not falling. You’ll still have your job tomorrow and for the next decade or so. After that though, well — that’s where things get interesting. Cause its not just blockchain, its automation, AI and machine learning too. But we are in the first two minutes of the next chapter of the book on Digital Transformation. There is another buzz word worthy of your investigation, “digital transformation”. This chapter of Digital Transformation is called “Blockchain” and it is going to impact your business operations much like the internet, cell phones and WiFi have. More importantly, blockchain’s cultural influence on your organization and workforce will have an even larger impact than operationally. You know how occasionally you say, “People are our most valuable asset?” Blockchain believes that, too. It just wants to free them, from you.

So there you have it. Blockchain. Remember the group text message, hot sauce and NSFW happy hour photos. I don’t recommend putting them together. But you should still investigate blockchain and learn more about blockchain and how it has, is and will change your business. As the sky isn’t falling but the winds of change are a blowing.

My name is Samson. I’m a human and an anthropologist in fintech. If you like this post, share it! If you hate it, please tell me why below in the comments. If you have a specific fintech or blockchain question you can reach me via my CfPA profile here. And yes, I only mentioned #cryptocurrencies once. Cryptocurrencies are important to the blockchain conversation, as they are in fact a blockchain awareness, education and adoption campaign. But thinking blockchain = cryptocurrencies is like thinking the internets = porn. Yes, porn is the reason the www gained mass adoption but turns out the internets are good for something beyond streaming HD BDSMH films. Who knew? So too with Blockchain. Cryptocurrencies are just the easiest way to leverage distributed ledger technology (DLT). Its not actually the only use or the most important one of DLT.

Finally, I would say thoughts are my own but I probably stole them from a woman.

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