When Bitcoin first became popular, much mainstream coverage focused on its illicit uses. Then a revolution in thought led people to understand the less sinister benefits of Bitcoin, and namely its underlying technology, the blockchain.
Many experts suppose blockchain could revolutionize numerous industries, with financial technology receiving most of the coverage in 2016, which some observers have dubbed “the year of the blockchain.”
But, as 2016 rolls into 2017, focus on blockchain in industries outside of cryptocurrency, and finance, are emerging. Insurtech, according to Jupiter Research, could soar to a $235 billion dollar industry thanks to insurance tech’s use of blockchain.
A Deloitte survey published Tuesday finds that blockchain technology is being adopted across industries, including consumer products, manufacturing, technology, media and telecommunications. Perhaps betokening of 2017’s big blockchain trend, the survey says companies in these industries plan to aggressively invest in the technology whose first popular use-case is Bitcoin. Deloitte, which offers blockchain as a service, finds industries outside of financial services could be the more aggressive blockchain players.
“Most financial services companies have been involved in blockchain via their labs, investments and pilots for a while now,” said Eric Piscini, principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the global financial services blockchain leader. “Other industries are now starting to realize the potential for disruption, as well as the new opportunities that blockchain creates.”
Consumer products and manufacturing industry executives reportedly hold the most bullish blockchain outlook, where 42 percent of respondents plan to invest $5 million or more in 2017.
In technology, media and telecom, 27 percent of executives say their companies will invest $5 million or more next calendar year. 23% of responding financial services report such investments planned for 2017.
Thus, technology, media and telecom industries are possibly the most aggressive investors in blockchain, according to the survey. 30% of respondents in those industries say their companies are done with blockchain research and development and have moved on to production.
Just 12 percent of financial services company executives believe their company deployed blockchain beyond R & D. 24 percent of surveyed financial services firms plan to bring blockchain to the production stage in 2017.
Even healthcare and life science have more aggressive plans than surveyed financial services companies, with 35% of respondents from healthcare and life sciences saying their company had plans to deploy blockchain technology in 2017.
Despite plans by enterprise, Deloitte finds senior executives hold contradictory expectations for blockchain. “Many senior executives still know little or nothing about it, while others place it among their company’s highest priorities,” surveyor Deloitte finds. “And commitments to blockchain vary by industry, in ways that may be surprising.”
39 percent of senior executives at large U.S. companies claimed “little to no knowledge” about the blockchain, while 61 percent claimed blockchain knowledge ranging from “broad to expert.”
Blockchain-informed executives foresee the technology as “crucial” to their companies and industries. 55 percent believe their company would be at a disadvantage if they did not adopt the blockchain, while 42 percent of the “broad to expert” participants say blockchain will disrupt their respective industries.
When and how blockchain might change these industries remains uncertain. “It is fair to say that industry is still confused to a degree about the potential for blockchain,” said David Schatsky, managing director with DeloitteLLP. “More than a quarter of surveyed knowledgeable execs say their companies view blockchain as a critical, top-five priority. But about a third consider the technology overhyped.”
The survey, conducted online of 308 blockchain-knowledgeable senior executives at organizations with $500 million or more in annual revenue, revealed blockchain investment and adoption patterns are more complicated than popularly understood.
“This diversity may be a testament to the versatility of the technology,” said Schatsky. “But it is likely also a reflection of the fact that, despite the hype, the impact that blockchain will likely have on businesses in various industries is not yet fully understood.”
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