Here's what two executive surveys revealed about blockchain adoption

While some expressed trepidation around regulatory uncertainty and a lack of standards, a large portion of enterprise executives said their companies are well on their way to deploying blockchain to enable new efficiencies.

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Surveys of corporate executives by two professional services consultancies revealed enterprises are on the path to deploying blockchain ledgers for business automation and transaction efficiency.

The survey reports, from PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Deloitte, showed that thousands of respondents are running blockchain projects, and as many as one in three already have it in production.

PwC's report, published on Monday, revealed that 84% of 600 executives surveyed indicated their companies are "actively involved" with blockchain: 20% are in the research phase, 32% are in development mode, 10% are in pilot with the technology, 15% are running production blockchain ledgers, and 7% have paused their projects. The remaining 14% indicated they are not involved with blockchain technology.

Blockchain adoption PwC

Deloitte published the results of an executive survey in June showing that nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents reported their organizations see a "compelling business case" for the use of blockchain, and many of the companies are moving forward with the distributed ledger technology.

Thirty-four percent indicated that their company already has a blockchain system in production, while another 41% said they expect their organizations to deploy a blockchain application within the next 12 months.

blockchain deloitte June survey Deloitte

Deloitte polled 1,053 "blockchain savvy" executives at companies with $500 million or more in annual revenue. The survey spanned seven countries: Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S.

"As more organizations put their resources behind this emerging technology, we expect blockchain to gain significant traction as its potential for greater efficiency, support for new business models and revenue sources, and enhanced security are demonstrated in real-world situations," Deloitte stated in its report.

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Rajesh Kandaswamy, a Gartner fellow and chief blockchain researcher, had a more sobering analysis of blockchain adoption, saying that while interest among enterprises is high, actual deployments are rare. Even when enterprises do perform proof of concept projects, they're often rolled out under pressure from executives who want to do "something" with blockchain.

"Most industries are not close to adoption, and even when they do, they do limited activity to test the technology, not as much because of a strong business case," Kandaswamy said via email.

A Gartner CIO survey released in May revealed that fewer than 1% of more than 3,100 respondents had rolled out production blockchain systems. Gartner has since completed a second survey whose numbers have yet to be released, but adopters remain low, Kandaswamy said.

Blockchain adoption Gartner

A survey conducted by Gartner Research, the results of which were released in May, revealed far fewer adopters of the technology compared to Deloitte's or PwC's research.

Among 293 CIOs of organizations in short-term planning or that have already invested in blockchain initiatives, 23% said blockchain requires the most new skills to implement of any technology area, while 18% said that blockchain skills are the most difficult to find, according to Gartner's earlier survey.

A further 14% indicated that blockchain requires the greatest change in the culture of the IT department, and 13% believed that the structure of the IT department had to change in order to implement blockchain, Gartner's data showed.

Currently, the blockchain job market is hot but because it's so nascent there is a dearth of qualified developers to fill positions.

"The challenge for CIOs is not just finding and retaining qualified engineers, but finding enough to accommodate growth in resources as blockchain developments grow," Gartner Research vice president David Furlonger stated in the report. "Qualified engineers may be cautious due to the historically libertarian and maverick nature of the blockchain developer community."

When it comes to the price tag for deploying blockchain, PwC's survey saw 40% of respondents indicating their organization will invest at least $5 million in blockchain deployments in the coming year.

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Forty-five percent of PwC survey respondents, who came from 15 "territories," said a lack of trust in blockchain's capabilities and regulatory uncertainty could delay its adoption.

"Users must build confidence in the technology itself. As with any emerging technology, challenges and doubts exist around blockchain's reliability, speed, security and scalability. And there are concerns regarding a lack of standardization and the potential lack of interoperability with other blockchains," PwC's report stated.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury released a report urging state and federal regulators to revamp outdated statutes and support technological innovations such as AI, machine learning and blockchain that could make the U.S. financial system more nimble and competitive.

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Uncertainty aside, PwC pointed to research showing that blockchain is a technology headed for a multi-trillion-dollar valuation over the next decade or so. The firm cited a 2017 Gartner forecast that predicted blockchain would generate an annual business value of more than $176 billion by 2025 and more than $3 trillion by 2030.

"It's possible to imagine that 10% to 20% of global economic infrastructure will be running on blockchain-based systems by that same year," PwC stated. "Everyone is talking about blockchain, and no one wants to be left behind."

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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