Much has been written about blockchain’s potential to revolutionize enterprises by securing transactions, increasing the transparency and efficiency of data-sharing and establishing provenance. Some technology executives, though, are not convinced.
Some said blockchain didn’t generate much value for their businesses in 2018 and they remain doubtful of its promise next year.
United Parcel Service Inc., for example, is experimenting with blockchain in a number of proof-of-concept tests, but found little evidence of significant benefits.
Juan Perez, chief engineering and information officer at UPS, said the company is figuring out the appropriate business cases to use the technology. In September, an experimental blockchain project to manage and track the status of claims was underway at UPS Capital, a division that offers supply chain finance and insurance services.
“I don’t expect significant benefits in 2019, primarily because the technology itself is continuing to evolve and mature … it requires a lot of parties to come to the table to participate and evaluate the technology,” Mr. Perez said.
Linda Jojo, executive vice president of technology and chief digital officer of United Airlines Inc., has similar thoughts about the technology: “We have a small team looking at blockchain, but we are still searching for the killer use case,” she said.
Like Ms. Jojo, many technology executives oversaw projects this year aimed at finding the best use case for blockchain technology. Walmart Inc., IBM Corp. and Nestlé SA are among several companies building a blockchain to remake how the industry tracks food worldwide, for example. Merck Inc. sees it as a way to share drug shipping data. Bank of America Corp. has patented blockchain inventions.
Technology research firm Gartner Inc. recommends that businesses start planning now for how they’ll use the technology. Blockchain’s business value will grow to more than $360 billion by 2026 and then surge to more than $3.1 trillion by 2030, Gartner predicts.
Still, some technology executives say blockchain was largely too hyped this year. “Blockchain generally got more attention than I think was warranted,” said Lance Braunstein, chief information officer of E*Trade Financial Corp.