A consensus has built in the last few years that blockchain is going to continue to broaden its impact in modern society. Once tied exclusively to bitcoin, the technology has already become more widely useful, and most seem to expect that this trend will continue.
For our part, our take on ‘The Next Industries Blockchain Will Transform’ included talking about gaming, healthcare, and real estate. All of these are industries in which the rapid, affordable, and secure transfer of data is increasingly essential, making them natural fits for blockchain technology. Some will take the idea further than even these major aspects of modern life, however. For instance, Newsweek covered the “new internet” potential that some see with blockchain, essentially suggesting that the technology can re-democratize online information, and help to bring about a more decentralized online experience.
Given ideas and industries like these that come up in these discussions, it’s becoming easy to assume that blockchain is gradually going to change our lives in virtually every area in which the transfer of information and/or value occurs. It’s almost more sensible at this point to ask where blockchain won’t be needed than where it will be. So we thought we’d do just that, and look at a few tech-related parts of life in 2020 that probably won’t be jumping on the blockchain bandwagon.
Internal Financial Management
There’s a temptation, particularly among those who are only just coming to understand the blockchain, to think that it can and should be used for any and all financial dealings. However, the truth right now is that most businesses don’t really need a tool like the blockchain — particularly where management of internal finances is concerned. A look at whether companies need blockchain by Hackernoon presented a helpful infographic on this topic, suggesting questions company owners should ask themselves to determine whether or not blockchain implementation is necessary. And most of these questions concern needs for exceptionally rapid transactions, contracts about value transactions, and work with digital assets. There’s virtually no consideration of in-house finances, indicating that while it may sound like an interesting idea for a business to record financial data via blockchain, it’s not entirely necessary.
In a sense, many people think of the blockchain as something of a content management system. That is to say, with all of the data and funds changing hands — and the fact that the blockchain is usually described as a ledger for recording those exchanges — it can in a sense seem like one giant filing mechanism. It may well be that content management on such mechanisms will become a more popular blockchain function. But here again, it’s not exactly necessary. Today, the cloud content management systems listed by Box showcase how businesses and individuals with significant content management needs already involve highly capable cloud systems. Even a large business can reliably manage all of its content on the cloud, enabling seamless workflow and providing employees with easy and efficient access to all content relative to their work. There simply isn’t much of a need to organize blockchain-based content organization, even if it might sound logical at first thought.
Finally, there’s remote communication, which has become a particularly significant topic in 2020. Here too though we have a trendy, tech-forward aspect of modern society for which blockchain just doesn’t seem to be much of a fit. Already, there are encrypted services designed to facilitate chats and messages all around the world. And for more business-oriented needs, a flurry of workplace communication systems such as the ones listed by WSJ have emerged to create their own competitive market, packed with solutions for everything from messaging to video conferencing. So, while the blockchain could conceivably be used to package communications quickly and securely over distance, this sort of use isn’t likely to be a priority for developers.
None of this is meant to suggest that blockchain technology isn’t useful, nor that it won’t continue to spread. But with so many lofty ideas about its potential beginning to take root, it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s not necessarily needed everywhere.
Carolyn Coley is a blockchain reporter. She joined Smartereum after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2018.