Several large- and small-scale developers are working on many projects across public and private companies. What are the time-scales developers have to deal with?
During the first four to six weeks, the developer conducts a business case validation, which could go on for eight weeks. From an initial list of 10 use-cases by the end of the business analysis period, we come down to three main use-cases, after which it takes another eight to twelve weeks to build the minimum viable product (MVP). Unless there is a ready-made asset or the client has a ready-made business case, for IBM, the first three to five months is fairly consistent. It is far easier to adopt blockchain from a technology feasibility standpoint but it takes time because of the inertia of current systems and the complexity of tasks. Once the pipeline between parties is created, the use-cases can be expanded. This is why the success of the first use-case is very important.
What should companies keep in mind before approaching blockchain developers?
Historically, a developer would offer a product to a company and say that it can perform 15 different functions; however, in the blockchain world, it's different. Companies that are excited about blockchain should look at what they can do beyond the initial two years. They should not just look for cost-optimisation but for new revenue sources as well. It is important for companies to create a governance framework for their blockchain platform(s) so that there is a point person to speak about any issues that need to be addressed by the developers and/or other members of the blockchain. There is a need for business understanding of the processes to be able to identity fault-lines.
A key part of blockchain is its inherent transparency. What are your thoughts on the regulatory environment and the need for consent mechanisms?
Most of the use-cases, even in the insurance blockchain, which go to the citizens' level, require a built-in protocol and consent mechanism. For us, every use-case that requires consumer data or subscriber data is factoring consent in, and entities are also looking at this. Regulators in the finance and consumer spaces are encouraging blockchain use; therefore, we should ensure that the same regulations that exist for manual and physical controls are translated on to the blockchain for both regulatory bodies and consumers.