– Blockchain technology, which is already making an impact in healthcare, will evolve in four phases over the next decade, predicted Gartner.

The high-tech research firm advised chief information officers to experiment with some level of block based on an understanding of the consequences for their companies from their choices.  

“Beyond operational improvements and increased efficiency, fully mature blockchain complete solutions will allow organizations to re-engineer business relationships, monetize illiquid assets and redistribute data and value flows to more successfully engage with the digital world. That is the real business of blockchain,” said David Furlonger, distinguished research vice president, Gartner Fellow, and co-author of the book The Real Business of Blockchain: How Leaders Can Create Value in a New Digital Age.

“To unlock this potential, CIOs should use a framework to help their organizations better understand the timing of investments and the value proposition for blockchain usage based on different solution archetypes,” Furlonger added.

The four phases of blockchain evolution are:

Blockchain-Enabling Technologies

These technologies furnish the basis for developing future blockchain applications. They can also be used as part of nonblockchain resources, such as enhancing operational efficiency. Such technologies include cryptography, distributed computing, peer-to-peer networking, and messaging.

Blockchain-Inspired Solutions

These solutions use the basic technologies but only three of blockchain’s five elements: distribution, encryption, and immutability. While some of these solutions use tokenization, they are not decentralized enough to use tokens to create new value exchange systems. Such solutions often seek to reinvent existing processes that are unique to a particular organization or sector while retaining centralized controls.

Blockchain-Complete Solutions

Such approaches provide the full blockchain value proposition using all five components — distribution, encryption, immutability, tokenization, and decentralization. Blockchain-complete solutions incorporate tokenization enabled by smart contracts and decentralization. These technologies permit trading in new forms of value, such as new types of assets, and break monopolies on current forms of value marketing processes, such as online exchange and digital advertising. “Though not immediate, the proliferation of blockchain-complete solutions will push organizations to explore new ways of operating with greater degrees of decentralization than they have now,” said Christophe Uzureau, research vice president at Gartner and co-author of the book.

Enhanced-Blockchain Solutions

Technologies like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and decentralized self-sovereign identity (SSI) should become more integrated with blockchain networks after 2025. The resultant advanced blockchain solutions will extend the kind of customer and value that will be tokenized and traded, enabling many smaller transactions that would not be available through conventional methods.

“The evolution of blockchain cannot be ignored. Blockchain-complete solutions will begin to gain traction in about three years. Only slightly further out lies a future business and societal environment that includes IoT and AI in which autonomous and intelligent things own assets and trade value,” predicted Furlonger.

“Business leaders who fail to do scenario planning or experiment with the technology, and delay consideration of the two fundamental blockchain components, decentralization and tokenization, risk being unable to adapt when blockchain matures,” he concluded.

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