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Industrial blockchain applications coming to reality?

The rapid rise of blockchain technology since 2015, followed by a series of ICO and cryptocurrency hype, has made blockchain and Bitcoin household names. I began to study blockchain and IoT applications in 2015. When I spoke to my friends about my undertaking in blockchain at that time, some of them may have heard of the term but actually knew little about it.

In the time frame from 2015 to 2016, it seemed pretty far-fetched to apply blockchain to IoT. People wouldn’t have thought of putting the two together. Today, despite the fall of the ICO fever and governments tightening control on or even banning cryptocurrency, most of my friends are either endeavoring toward the blockchain industry or already well into it. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say 80% of my peers are talking about blockchain. It has taken only a year for blockchain to go from being little-known to becoming the center of attention.

I predicted “blockchain of IoT” (BIoT) and have been participating in BIoT implementations. In 2018, real-world BIoT applications are beginning to take shape in many countries around the world with industry leaders committing R&D resources in BIoT. What about Taiwan? If you consider coin mining an IoT application, then Taiwan has a BIoT application.

Starting this year, many firms and government agencies have approached my team to inquire and explore how to incorporate blockchain in their operations and bring value to their organizations. Quite a few of them did some research of their own before coming to us. In the interaction with them, I found something interesting that I would like to share with readers.

I would like to first talk about a common phenomenon – looking at blockchain in general through perspectives gained from only one blockchain technology

Blockchain indeed is still in its early-stage of development according to the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. However, with the cryptocurrency and ICO bubble catching public attention, many people have begun to study blockchain, mostly building their knowledge on top of the legendary Bitcoin and Ethereum, which has the most data available for research at present.

Such attention could be a good thing. However, as blockchain is still in its infancy, a wide range of technologies are being developed, some of which may be bubbles waiting to burst. If users build their global view on blockchain based on the first blockchain technology they came in contact with when they began initial blockchain research and look at other blockchain technologies through this global view, this may lead them in the wrong direction when they try to incorporate blockchain in their operations.

They should go back to the basics by first figuring out exactly what problems they are attempting to solve using blockchain and then research on the technology, rather than starting off with the technology without studying the problem itself. They may end up using the wrong tool for the job. For example, many people like to use a comparison table to list the pros and cons of different blockchain technologies. This may seem like a reasonable approach but people may be overlooking one essential aspect – whether the particular blockchain technology is a perfect match for the task they are trying to tackle in their field.

For example, I was invited to a company in Tucheng a few weeks ago for blockchain consultation. The person in charge of the company’s blockchain research started off by asking me, “Do you have an actual use case? I did my own research…” Then, he went on talking about some blockchain characteristics, which are in fact just about one particular blockchain technology, and raised all kinds of questions.

I spent some time trying to take him back to the basics. By giving him the fundamental concept and the right attitude, I helped him examine if his company and industry can potentially benefit from making use of blockchain technologies. I also pointed out some news reports on blockchain use cases may not have presented the full story and their headlines may be too simple and thus misleading. At this early-stage of blockchain development when people are not yet clear on the basics, I would like to make a point of saying that people should not think they can gain real understanding on examples of blockchain being used in other industries simply by reading news headlines and embellished stories.

Lman Chu, co-founder and CEO of BiiLabs


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