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By now, it's been firmly established that blockchain is much bigger than Bitcoin. Like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and today's other trendsetting technologies, blockchain promises to radically alter how business is conducted over the next several years.
And executives are taking notice.
Fifty-seven percent of large enterprises are at least seriously considering deploying blockchain technology, if they're not already in the midst of their own deployment projects, according to a survey of 400 business executives, founders, managers and IT professionals conducted by analyst firm Juniper Research. Two-thirds (66 percent) of the organizations that are testing proof-of-concepts expect to integrate blockchain into their IT systems by the end of 2018.
Awareness is high. A majority (76 percent) of respondents said blockchain could be very or quite useful for their organizations. Only 15 percent admitted to knowing very little about the technology.
Blockchain is best suited for business processes involving digital fiat currency, identified settlement and land registries, Juniper Research noted, before cautioning that there are plenty of barriers to a successful implementation.
"Indeed, the research found that companies may have underestimated the scale of the blockchain challenge," stated the research firm. "For issues such as interoperability, the proportion of survey respondents expressing concerns progressively increased as companies proceed towards full deployment, while concerns also rose sharply regarding client refusal to embrace blockchain."
Before succumbing to the buzz surrounding blockchain, Windsor Holden, head of Forecasting and Consultancy at Juniper Research, suggested seeking out effective alternatives. "In many cases, systemic change, rather than technological, might be a better and cheaper solution than blockchain, which could potentially cause significant internal and external disruption," he said in a statement.
In fact, more than a third (35 percent) of the enterprise organizations that are pursuing blockchain deployments feel they would cause a significant level of internal disruption. Just over half (51 percent) expect that the effects will be felt externally, concerned that their partners and customers will be subjected to significant disruption because of their blockchain projects.
Nonetheless, the benefits of blockchain will likely be most profoundly felt in businesses that require transparency in their transactions and are currently drowning in paper documents. Blockchain may also be useful for organizations that deal in large volumes of transmitted information, claimed Juniper Research.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.