Time to debunk blockchain?

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Blockchain has been the next big thing in supply chain for so long now that it is hardly surprising that we have reached a point where people are starting to challenge its value.

Notable among this is research organisation Gartner, which has just produced a survey which suggests that 90 per cent of blockchain-based supply chain initiatives will suffer “blockchain fatigue” owing to a lack of strong use cases.

Malory Davies, FCILT, Editor.

Malory Davies, FCILT, Editor.

Eagle-eyed readers might be surprised at this because only a couple of weeks ago, Gartner included blockchain in its list of the top eight supply chain technology trends, saying it “has potential to fulfil long-standing challenges presented across complex global supply chains”.

That is not to say that both statements cannot be true. Gartner’s new survey found that supply chain blockchain projects “are very limited and do not match the initial enthusiasm for the technology’s application”.

This reflects the fact that only 19 per cent of the respondents to the survey ranked block chain as very important for their business and only nine per cent have invested in it.

Actually, Gartner is not the first blockchain debunker. Last autumn, IT research group Forrester produced a report “Predictions 2019, Distributed Ledger Technology”, which argued that “continued hype and unrealistic promised drive risk of a looming blockchain winter”.

So is blockchain a dead duck? Are all those organisations that are investing time and money in it wrong? After all they include industry leaders such as Mercedes Benz, Maersk, IBM, Thales, Accenture, and Unilever.

Of course not. Development of the technology is still a quite an early stage, and it will take time to mature. But suggestions of “blockchain fatigue” and a “blockchain winter” are perhaps a necessary corrective to some of the over-enthusiasm surrounding the technology.

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