Much has been written about blockchain in recent months, especially following the massive fluctuations in the value of the cryptocurrency it underpins – Bitcoin. With it, a multitude of vendors have come out to talk about how they are going to utilise the public ledger technology to transform the world.
Blockchain is starting to get political backing too and was high on the agenda at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. On the main stage of the event in Switzerland, the technology, along with a plethora of associated digital assets were all widely featured.
One of the speeches that stood out was by the EU’s digital transformation advocate, Eva Kaili, who spoke of the need to craft sensible legislation that does not stymie innovation around the technology but rather encourages it.
In many ways, 2018 could be the defining year for blockchain. It has gained fans in government and boardrooms across the globe, however now is the time to gain fans on the shop floor too.
A solution for all
Blockchain is the hot new tech on the block; leading to Google searches of “what is blockchain” to rise more than eight-fold in the past year. Built upon complex cryptography, the blockchain effectively provides a permanent, incorruptible and irreversible record. This means, in theory, it leaves no room for fraud of any kind throughout the supply chain. This ability for blockchain technology to provide a full audit trail has made it attractive within multiple industries. This is no surprise.
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In fact, blockchain could become the solution for all. While the likes of financial services and digital identity are the ones that first come to mind when you think of blockchain success stories, there is pioneering work taking place on numerous potentially disruptive solutions built upon the power of the blockchain ecosystem right now.
Likely though, the next big innovation in blockchain isn’t going to come from a large blue chip organisation, but from the likes of ‘Sheila in accounts creating her own app that helps her do her job more effectively’.
In many ways, the blockchain revolution is leading to something that could be referred to as ‘Shadow IT version 2.0’. However, this time it will be an example of a Shadow IT that organisations actively want to encourage.
Hiding in the shadows
There has been a marked increase in the propensity of all Shadow IT – technology and apps that are not regulated, provisioned, or formally approved by an organisation’s IT team – in recent years, and across all disciplines.
Buoyed by a more technologically astute employee base and a general merging of home and work lives, there are likely to now be a myriad of unauthorised apps hiding in the shadows of any modern corporate network.
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The demand for new apps to enrich our lives is not subsiding. According to App Annie, around the world last year over 175 billion apps were downloaded, 60% more than in 2015. This number equates to nearly two apps being downloaded every month by each person on the planet.
The number of these apps that will ultimately make it on to the corporate network is open to conjecture; by its very definition, the Shadow IT that is present across all modern businesses is almost impossible to predict. However, recent research from Cisco estimated that there are between 17 and 20 times more cloud applications running on the average network than an IT department is aware of.
The knee jerk reaction of IT departments has – in the past – been to scramble around to do all they can to keep up with the perceived scourge of Shadow IT applications. The fact that some of these apps may actually be driving the business forward has so far been irrelevant.
Time for a paradigm shift
If you think that the headlines for blockchain thus far have been in over exalted tones, in reality we are still just at the beginning of the blockchain hype cycle. The future for the technology is bright and will contain many new and powerful secure transactional systems that will underpin transformative growth.
Now is the time for a paradigm shift in thinking though and to encourage those closer to your processes and your customers to be given the opportunity to develop use cases for blockchain technology that could mean a business will not just survive, but thrive.
Shadow IT 2.0 is something that should be revered rather than feared. Shadow IT 2.0 is helping to accelerate the impact of blockchain, and as such, savvy IT departments need to start viewing it more as crowdsourcing a solution for the digital age than something that needs to be protected against.
Sourced by Chris Painter, CEO, Omnitude