In this series of blogs, we will examine the impact that the introduction of a new technology has and the changes that are occurring with the arrival of blockchain and other disruptive technologies. As part of this investigation, the importance and the benefits of implementing new technology solutions will be discussed, along with the dangers of ignoring them. As well as this, the articles will look at a previous example of a disruptive new technology - the internet - and how it changed industries, along with the possible lessons that can be learned and applied to this new technological revolution. Additionally, some of the new technologies, and how industries can best prepare to adapt to their upcoming impact, will be discussed. Along the way, we’ll also explain how Blockpass fits into all of this.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change” - Charles Darwin (1809–1882)
Technological transformation, also referred to recently as digital transformation, has been a hot topic in recent years, with many businesses seeking to implement new technology to gain an edge on their competition. In essence, technological transformation is simply the process of developing a company through the application of a new technology in order to provide better products or services, or to achieve savings through reducing costs, reducing time or otherwise making processes more efficient.
By leveraging new technology, especially when coming to it ahead of the curve, there are two highly desirable ways in which a company may see beneficial results.
Disruption of a market. This is often seen with smaller firms and start-ups which have the flexibility and forward-thinking approach that allows them to embrace innovation and provide superior services compared to what is currently available. Consider the electric motorcar industry which began in the mid-90s with a number of existing automotive companies beginning the production of electric vehicles. A new company, Tesla Inc., was founded in 2003 and has since risen to become the creator of the second-best selling electric car (after the Nissan Leaf). In this, Tesla have surpassed the efforts of many existing players in the automotive industry like BMW and Renault who might have been imagined to have a huge advantage in being established in the market. In some cases, such as with Tesla, start-ups may establish themselves as names in that industry, but often they may instead be absorbed by, or partner with, bigger companies who want to use these new developments and the start-up’s expertise to improve an established brand.
“I have no doubt that the auto industry will change more in the next five to ten years than it has in the past 50” - Mary Barra, Chairman & CEO, General Motors
Dominance of a market. When a company which is well established in an industry embraces digital transformation, it often becomes the dominant player in the market, leaving the other firms to play catch-up or fail. A good example of this is Apple. Apple has an approach whereby it works on products at least two years in advance, resulting in it continually putting out products ahead of the curve. By doing this, Apple avoids wasting time and money trying to out-do others as they are generally seen as the most up-to-date and desirable which, along with the quality and design of its products, has led to its dominant position in the market. In addition, its willingness to innovate and approach new products has led it into markets that it previously had no presence in. Beginning with personal computing, it moved into mobile communications with the iPhone, and created the iPod to replace MP3 players in addition to other products. Whilst Apple rarely invents a new type of product, it applies new technology and considerable market research into creating superior alternatives to existing products very effectively. Dominance in a market will lead to greater revenue which in turn can be put to use in research and development to continue domination of the industry.
The opportunity to improve and develop is not one that comes along rarely. The rate of development in technology is observed to be increasing as time goes on in a fashion similar to Moore’s Law, the rule that originally stated that the number of transistors in a chip would double approximately every 24 months, but can be expanded to generally refer to the exponential growth and uptake of technology.
The effect of this exponential growth can be seen in various industries. For instance, in the social media scene, starting in 2004, Facebook reached 1 million users within its first 10 months; whereas in 2010, Instagram achieved its 1 million user mark in just 2.5 months. Mobile social network app Path managed 1 million downloads in the first two weeks of its relaunch in November 2011.
What this means for companies is that the rate at which new developments happen will only increase. New competition will spring up more and more rapidly and in order to remain a competitive choice, companies must make plans to be ready to tackle these changes. As these advances come ever faster, it will not be enough to simply react to new options; being proactive will be necessary. Companies that are slow to innovate will be overtaken and replaced.
The CEO of Accenture, Pierre Nanterme stated his opinion previously that new digital business models are the prime cause of more than half of companies on the Fortune 500 failing since 2000. He wrote: “We are only at the beginning of what the World Economic Forum calls the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, characterized not only by mass adoption of digital technologies but by innovations in everything from energy to biosciences.”
This sentiment was echoed by John Chambers, Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems, when he said: “At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.”
Even in times of economic hardship, these ideas seem to hold true, with results of research carried out by Gartner on 400 senior business leaders in user organizations worldwide indicating that, despite challenging business conditions, CEOs are still keen to make strategic investments in digital business transformation.
At Blockpass, we are embracing the potential of technological transformation initially with our RegTech mobile-based app, providing a KYC solution whilst helping to disrupt the status quo in the existing system of identity verification. It has become increasingly common, over the past twenty years since the internet took off (and indeed even before then), for companies to store information on their customers or users. The companies are then able to use this private information themselves or to sell it on without the true owners knowledge and permission. With the potential disruption that has come through blockchain technology, there is now a way to change the current system to one of self-sovereignty, where individuals have complete privacy and control of their data.
By embracing blockchain technology, as well as funding research and development of cryptography that will be used to secure and protect private identity, Blockpass will enable merchants to provide more desirable standards for their customers as well as providing regulatory compliance, all whilst reducing the time and cost of on-boarding new customers in a regulated ecosystem.
As we know that the technology is developing rapidly and will continue to do so, we have ensured that Blockpass is a blockchain-agnostic protocol. Currently, Blockpass uses the Ethereum blockchain; however, the solution can be adapted to the most suitable blockchain should a new one become required. In addition to this, we are not only focussed on KYC for humans, but are already working on a wider scope of solutions which includes providing key functionality for the Internet of Things as well as broader human identity whilst maintaining data privacy and security. As the Internet of Things begins to become a reality, we are prepared to help facilitate a secure and human-centric focus where people, companies, devices and objects can interact and operate safely.
In the next part of this blog series, we will be looking at the benefits that can be expected by employing new technology alongside the dangers of failing to innovate.