Banks and technology companies have poured billions of dollars into blockchain projects, but as the hype dies down, many of the early evangelists for the technology have come to the conclusion that production-ready deployment still remains a distant goal.
Research conducted by the World Economic Forum and Accenture involving interviews with 550 individuals and an analysis of 79 blockchain projects has found little confidence in the ability of the technology to match its early promise.
Survey respondents on average expected a 24% return on investment on their early blockchain projects, but realised only a 10% return. Indeed, fully 59% of respondents said they had no confidence that the project would deliver a positive return on investment.
Indeed, much of the value appears to lie in the reputational sphere, with 42% of respondents expecting a noticeable or significant brand improvement from simply announcing a blockchain project.
A separate review conducted by Reuters of 33 projects involving large companies announced over the past four years and interviews with more than a dozen executives involved with them found a similar story.
At least a dozen of these projects, which involve major banks, exchanges and technology firms, have not gone beyond the testing phase, the review shows. Those that have made it past that stage are yet to see extensive usage.
Though many technologists and service providers classify the technology as v1.0 and ready for production, skepticism remains, notes the WEF.
Proof-of-concept projects are often led by evangelists, developed in R&D, and always in controlled environments. Moving to production requires stakeholder buy-in and can be a real challenge, states the WEF
Furthermore: "It is important to keep in mind that blockchain is in its early stages and there are limitations as a result. For example, challenges exist in fully addressing security, speed and efficiency. It is important for organisations to carefully consider whether there are other technologies or approaches to digitisation that may deliver on their objectives more effectively or efficiently."
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