Blockchain for Enterprises. From Hype to Production

06 December 2017
By Alexander Makeyenkov, Head of European Business Development

Blockchain-for-Enterprises

The joint blockchain event hosted by zeb and DataArt emphasized that a radical shift in attitude towards innovation, reliance on new partnership models and fearless experimentation are the key factors for successful implementation of real world blockchain solutions.

On November 22, 2017, the global technology consultancy DataArt, and the leading European strategy consultancy zeb, hosted a blockchain event that brought together the leading blockchain experts to share insights on the implementation of the blockchain technology in financial services and to compare the landscape of blockchain adoption in Germany to the rest of the world. The evening brought together over 70 prominent guests.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner, Founder of the Blockchain Center at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, moderated the event and was joined by Denis Baranov, Principal Consultant at DataArt, Dr. Florian Forst, Partner at zeb, Farzad Pezeshkpour, Distinguished Engineer at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Andreas Fletcher, Group Product and Business Development Department at Deutsche Boerse, Daniel Grassinger, Co-Founder of nexussquared, and Alexander Borodich, Founder and CEO of Universa.

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Dr. Sandner presented a number of solutions which he oversaw at the Blockchain Center of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. He noted that “…in Germany we see blockchain adoption limited to industrial companies, while it is being embraced more widely internationally especially in the UK, Singapore, US, and partly Arab countries.” Speakers from Deutsche Börse Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland, exchanged insights with the Blockchain entrepreneurs from Universa and nexussqared.

Dr. Forst and Denis Baranov introduced the blockchain technology and discussed its implications and challenges from both business and technological perspectives. Denis Baranov shared a number of blockchain projects that DataArt delivered to major players in the financial services industry noting that “Our experience of implementing blockchain projects has taught us about the importance of a thorough business focus.” Dr. Forst added ‘’Find the right strategy and business case and blockchain can be a game changer for your business. Use it indiscriminately and it will be a waste of time. It’s a mistake to think that a blockchain solution is simply a technology solution.’’

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Panelists recognized that Germany needs to take steps to advance enterprise-grade operational blockchain technology. The experts focused on three key success factors for blockchain deployment: collaboration, change in business mentality, and experimentation with disregard to the risk of failure.

Collaboration between enterprises, competitors and regulators is the key to success

Farzad Pezeshkpour amazed his German counterparties by sharing the closeness of collaboration between RBS, its competitors and the regulators in finding suitable and scalable deployment for the blockchain technology. He mentioned that blockchain necessitates …a completely different way of working together and it is designed for collaborative engagements. Collaboration is critical.” Alexander Borodich added that “In the decentralized world there are no competitors, there are cooperative parties. It is the new mindset, which we have to adopt in the next couple of years.”

Step out of the comfort zone and think outside the box to achieve true innovation

Another important ingredient for success is the change in the enterprise’ attitude towards innovation. Daniel Grassinger argued for an overarching openness to change while describing the common approach as “…take hip technology and try to implement their excising processes into it”, a statement that found support among all panelist. Andreas Fletcher found the Blockchain technology to be the trigger for changing the whole business landscape in and outside an enterprise. “The greatest outcome of this technology is the fact that large companies are rethinking business models and process flow.”

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The key takeaway: take active steps from contemplation to production

Blockchain is fast becoming an integral part of the financial services infrastructure in operation across the industry. Major financial players advanced beyond prototypes to providing blockchain-based services. In only a few years blockchain will likely become a mainstream technology and the default global standard for financial transactions. It will almost invariably affect a lion share of businesses in financial services.

It may be argued that blockchain is still in its adolescence and may take a few years to mature into a mainstream technology or to become a mandatory requirement. That may be true, yet building the skills, business processes, and infrastructure to implement blockchain successfully and to synchronize its adoption with partners also takes time.

The speakers acknowledged that German enterprises are approaching blockchain innovation too conservatively. Although keeping the status quo may seem like a safer scenario it ignores the fact that status quo is rapidly becoming uncompetitive. German businesses should move forward from mere prototypes to real projects. Failure to innovate may leave them out of the new reality. While noted by Daniel Grassinger that “Innovation does not happen in your comfort zone, where we feel safe”, companies can feel just as safe with experienced partners for whom blockchain technology is the comfort zone.

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