Blockchains in the boardroom

When Satoshi Nakamoto shook up the banking world in 2009 with the introduction of the Bitcoin, full attention was paid to this digital currency. However, there was hardly any interest in the underlying technology of the blockchain. The ultimate goal was to undermine banks by anarchic crypto-nerds with a decentralised system. No more middleman, no more power to the people!

By now, almost 10 years later, blockchain technology has penetrated into the boardrooms. The potential of decentralised, transparent, verifiable and reliable technology is widely praised. Government, education, healthcare and the business community are all eagerly awaiting the promising applications. And, the good news: we will soon actually see the practical examples.

However, not everyone realises that the implementation of the blockchain and its principles will bring about major changes. It will, disruptively if it is in the core, tilt organisations and create new roles. And this aspect in particular has a major impact.

The blockchain is only partly about technology. The strategy is much more important than the technology. This is also the reason why, when considering blockchain technology, the right people need to move to the right positions. Personally, I regularly visit companies where the term blockchain has been taken up, but where the management is not yet aware of the need to think about the changing organisation.

Yet it is not an unwillingness. For decades, information technology has been the domain of IT professionals. They advise the management and support the business with their technical knowledge and expertise. Many CEOs today leave IT issues to a CIO or CTO. They often still do not see it as ‘crucial’ in the development of the company’s strategy. This considerably slows down the (digital) transformation process. To harness the power of digital technologies, such as blockchain technology, we need not only to overcome our fear of change, but also to actually implement changes in the organization. Digital transformation is much more than just upgrading an IT environment. It encompasses the entire organization, strategy and processes, and the introduction of potential new business models. Blockchain technology is not an isolated new technique but a means to help the organization change. And, as Darwin said: ‘It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent. It is the kind that responds best to change and adapts easily to the new reality”.

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