Many discussions about both blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) can still make people uncomfortable, not in the least, because their fundamental characteristics force us to question some of the business's deep-seated conventions and societal fabric.
This lack of conviction is holding back some major business-critical implementations and, therefore, their adoption and acceptance. I do not believe the reluctancy is still relevant as the approaches, methods, and technology have significantly changed over time.
As mentioned in one of my previous articles, I believe two key factors are likely to unlock the full potential of blockchains and the DLT technology faster: standardization of blockchain (technology, protocols, and interoperability) and the need for increased collaboration. These are not isolated factors, as encountered during several production projects over the past years. The world is again different and evolving fast.
I have written down the Enterprise Blockchain Manifesto containing the twelve elements I believe have helped customers and my team reach the recent successes moving systems to full production.
Some fundamental definitions
A quick reminder for people not yet familiar with Blockchain: Blockchains support a shared, single version of truth for multiple participants engaged in connected business processes and ecosystems. The shared ledger enables independently verifiable transparency and visibility into shared business processes and data. So what does that mean?
A Distributed Ledger can be described as a ledger of transactions of value and digitized or tokenized assets maintained in decentralized form factor across different systems, locations, and people (nodes), reducing or eliminating the need for a central authority to keep a check against manipulation.
Therefore, the information is securely, immutably, and accurately stored using cryptography and can be accessed using keys and cryptographic signatures. It does not prove the accuracy of the data itself. It confirms what happens with the data. Underlying the distributed ledger technology is the blockchain, which is the technology that finds its origin in bitcoin. The technology has ventured far beyond its original intent.
Once the information is stored, it becomes an immutable ledger, which governs the rules of the network. As such, it enables trust in untrusted environments between an unknown number of parties (permissionless) or known number (permissioned) by digitally creating, storing, and transferring value and assets.
The Enterprise Blockchain Manifesto
Inspired by the Agile Manifesto and by retrospectively looking at the outcomes of several Enterprise-grade blockchain projects, this collective work is offered to the community a way to gain an advantage when considering developing Enterprise Blockchain and Distributed Ledger solutions within their existing ecosystem.
It is the right moment to document and communicate the experiences gained.
Twelve Principles of Enterprise Blockchain Solutions:
- Innovative Blockchain solutions that realize the participants' ambitions are the primary measure of success. The highest priorities are to achieve an explicit purpose and to drive defined business outcomes from the onset.
- Solutions and Projects driven by an agile approach focused on cooperation and based on co-creation are the most successful and have a bigger chance to move to production. Enterprise Blockchain applications that require continuous deep teamwork between incumbents, partners, innovators, and regulators. Models, methods, concepts, and innovation emerge from the co-creation efforts.
- Always put Trust at the core of any Blockchain solution. Solutions provide evidence-based integrity in data, security, authenticity, and other essential components in an enterprise environment.
- Enterprise and Personal Identity are foundational to enable enterprise-class Blockchain applications. In the network, you want to know who does what, when, and where; at all points in time and space. Trust-worthy verification of digital identity is needed, and there must be clear rules and procedures for adding new participants to the network.
- Creating the framework for an ecosystem that effectively focuses on working together and co-creating is imperative for building the related technology solution. However, it is more important to decide what to do together than to formalize value and data flows, shares, cooperation, and consortium models.
- Regulatory compliance, data protection, privacy concerns, and obligations are not optional. Reasonable and respectful challenges and changes originate from within the ecosystem. It is achieved by actively working together with regulators and other entities. It makes sense to define the regulatory, security, and Trust model early in the project as it will impact the roadmap and the protocols needed to ensure the highest possible security and compliance level.
- During Ideation, stop thinking outside the box, throw away the box, and think again about the specific use case. During Realization, ensure proper integration with existing systems. In the Enterprise context, Blockchain solutions are most likely supplementary platforms and not end-to-end solutions in a business ecosystem.
- Blockchain solutions require a no-nonsense design thinking method based on a multidisciplinary approach, including all necessary business and technology experts, even experts from outside the ecosystem.
- Technical, business, and operational scalability and performance requirements of current and future states must be understood and managed. To ensure the solutions are future-fit, decoupling current decentralized and distributed applications from their underlying Blockchain protocols, from the links with existing applications, and integrations as much as possible enhances the chances for success.
- It is all about the data and value transactions and how you can use that to mitigate a particular risk. There is still significant misunderstanding about data integrity in the context of Enterprise Blockchain Solutions. The technology does not ensure the accuracy of data entered on-chain. It protects against manipulation of the data that becomes immutable once it goes on the shared ledger.
- Change is constant, so an iterative and fast approach to the changing market demands, business, and technology evolution must be part of the process. Any new Enterprise Blockchain solution must have the build-in capability and capacity to grow with the enterprises and connected ecosystems.
- In the enterprise context, consider modifications to existing systems and processes and integration work as essential. It is iterative. Well-designed layers to facilitate business integration and interoperability are vital to gain a strategic advantage. Continuous attention to emerging trends, regulations, and governance enhances the chances for success.
The ultimate goal of our efforts in the blockchain and distributed ledger technology space is to extend the technology and approaches. I hope the steps described in the Enterprise Blockchain Manifesto support you in your journey.
If needed, feel free to reach out to the community or me directly for further discussion or support.