The Importance of Embracing New Technology. Part Five: Conclusion

February 2019
As developments over the past few years have shown, we are in a time of unprecedented technological growth which shows no signs of slowing down.

This has caused upset and disruption on a huge scale as the impact of new, cutting-edge technology is beginning to be seen now in every industry. As with any technological revolution, in order to avoid being made obsolete, existing companies will need to ensure they take advantage of these new opportunities to improve their business, products and services. If they don’t, newer and more consumer friendly options will be chosen by the customer.

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.

For this final instalment we will conclude by examining how things might develop in the near future and how industries might react. We will round off our examination of what new tech can achieve and how Blockpass is positioning itself to take advantage of it.

Find the first part of the blog - The Importance of Embracing New Technology. Part One: Introduction, here.

Find the second part of the blog - The Importance of Embracing New Technology. Part Two: The Benefits and Dangers of Innovation, here.

Find the third part of the blog - The Importance of Embracing New Technology. Part Three: Examples From the Past, here.

Find the fourth part of the blog - The Importance of Embracing New Technology. Part Four: Planning for the Future, here.

  • What can we expect in the coming years?

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” - George S. Patton Jr.

As has been discussed previously, there are patterns that can be seen by studying previous examples of the development of technology. Although blockchain technology has been around since 2009, it can still be considered in its infancy. Nevertheless, it is on the rise to becoming a flexible and prominent solution throughout various industries. Assuming companies want to leverage this, there are various approaches that could be taken. In order to determine what might happen and what might be effective in different industries, we can extrapolate from developments and events in the blockchain world that have occurred in the past 8–9 years (as well as drawing inspiration from previous technological revolutions such as the internet). Looking at the near future, there are a number of ways in which industries could develop.

Drawing inspiration from the financial sector, which experienced disruption from blockchain technology first, it could be argued that a good way to foster progress would be with the formation of consortia. Pooling resources - whether they be material, intellectual or otherwise - will result in the potential for progress whilst diversifying risk. By collaborating, companies can adopt industry-wide standards, cooperate on Proof-of-Concepts and assist in developments to the mutual benefit of all involved. There are downsides however; namely that large-scale projects can suffer delays in achieving consensus as to the approach and direction of research and development. Smaller companies may not have the resources of consortia but they can usually move faster than their larger counterparts. Of course, consortia can always include or work alongside smaller firms such as start-ups, but either way, cooperation tends to foster greater developments in the long run. In this approach, the tendency of companies to be secretive and competitive is a downside as opportunities may be missed.

The R3 consortium was started in 2015 by Barclays, BBVA, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, State Street, and UBS in response to the threat of blockchain making banks obsolete. Since then, it has gone on to grow in size and develop its own form of the technology specifically designed to bring the benefits of blockchain technology to banks in a manner that would maintain their preferred control of the system. Other industries may soon find that the impact of blockchain and AI forces them to work together in order to avoid losing out as disruptive new solutions are presented by start-ups.

As for start-ups, just as with the coming of the internet, the amount of data and availability of new continues to grow at ever-increasing rates. Lower barriers to entry and new opportunities identified will lead to an increase in competition which will favour new entrants into the market who are nor restrained by legacy technology or who have a willingness to invest in cutting-edge developments. We are seeing an explosion in companies proposing blockchain solutions to all kinds of problems - fuelled in part by the popularity of Initial Coin Offerings that have given anyone and everyone the chance to start up in the space. Whilst many of these may fail, the ones that succeed will naturally have benefits that incumbents lack (or else they would fail due to having nothing to offer beyond existing options) and may begin to become household names as has happened with previous technological revolutions. Although the ‘Wild West’ days of ICOs seems to be over, those who fail to prepare for the disruption of new projects with genuine promise will fall behind and waste huge amounts of resources trying to play catch-up as customers shift their focus to more attractive options, or else go under entirely. Agile and driven start-ups working to find and exploit market niches are not going to go away.

Looking back at the coming of the internet, it is easy to highlight the best decisions companies took with hindsight; but, at the time, the outcome of its introduction to all industries and its success was not so clear cut. Indeed, there have been developments with other areas of technology (particularly mobile tech) since the internet which have provided even greater opportunity to businesses than there was in the late 90s and early 00s. Time and time again, some people are able to identify key opportunities and move to leverage them, catching others were unprepared leaving them behind. This is likely to be the case again as blockchain, AI, IoT and other even newer technologies begin to disrupt industries; existing operators should plan carefully to make sure they don’t fall victim to the mistakes that others made in the past. Implementing and maintaining a plan to evolve with the times through will become commonplace in the most successful companies. Attending events and hearing from experts in particular fields is already a popular option for those wanting to keep up with the latest developments and this is likely to remain the case. In all of this, it is likely that we will see a focus of companies on looking outwards to ways they can improve, generating more profits in the long run by employing new and better solutions and making more desirable products.

Besides forming consortia or being prepared to experiment with the latest technology, it seems as though many companies are also looking to work with start-ups in order to enjoy the benefits of new technological developments without having to create them themselves. Businesses increasingly invest in partnerships with start-ups or hire experts to work on research and development, realising that the success of the biggest companies in the world comes from focusing on long-term gains and investing in the future, rather than trying to improve on bottom-line savings. This type of collaboration can see excellent results as long as the companies communicate effectively on their mutual goals and work together to achieve them. With the aforementioned rise in start-ups proposing solutions in all kind of areas, it will be easier than ever for companies to look for likely partners for the future.

As blockchain technology, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things begin to combine we are seeing real possibilities for a future that has long been promised but never realised - with truly smart technology giving rise to smart homes, smart cars, smart cities and so on. With the security and immutability of blockchain, the automation of smart contracts and AI, and the interconnectivity and vast amounts of data that will come from IoT systems and devices, real solutions in the progress towards a smart world are currently under development. As this moves more into the mainstream and eventually becomes embedded in our day-to-day lives, it will be necessary for most, if not all, businesses to be able to connect with the system in a multitude of ways. From farms to banks, and corner-shops to multinational companies, the ability to safely and securely connect will need to be embedded into their operations. To achieve this, specific devices and protocols will be required to monitor, analyse, delegate and oversee those operations. In the coming years, these kinds of protocol and devices will be the ones to watch and work with.

In more general terms, there is also a shift in the balance of power. Until very recently, the personal data of users was held by companies and was used by them however they saw fit - whether this was to use it for analysis, selling it on to others or otherwise profiting over their custodianship of an individual’s identity. Following significant scandals around security leaks and data misuse, there is a steady move towards rectifying the situation, giving the consumer back control of their data. This trend has been seen already with regulations coming into force in Europe and other areas. What has begun is likely to continue as the general public refuse to put up with being taken advantage of and the end result is likely to be self-sovereignty of data and identity for the user - a goal which is not too far away.

Change is coming in a number of ways and the way businesses operate will need to change accordingly.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” - George Bernard Shaw

  • How does Blockpass fit into all this?

In recognition of the developments that are coming and the necessary steps before they can be put into place, Blockpass is creating its user-centric, self-sovereign identity solution for regulated industries that will interface with blockchain technology and the Internet of Things. It has already released its KYC product on mobile devices as the first step to providing these identities. This KYC process will provide any industry that requires KYC with a cheaper, faster and more effective way to on-board customers in line with regulations. In the future, information beyond KYC data will be able to be added, and interactions with other entities on an IoT level will be facilitated with all the security and trust that a blockchain-based solution can provide. Notable is Blockpass’ focus on self-sovereignty  -  giving the power and control back to the user - and its readiness to incorporate IoT-level solutions when possible.

Additionally, Blockpass is positioning itself as a leader in the blockchain and identity spaces and counts amongst its team many experts in regulation, compliance, blockchain technology and IoT solutions, amongst other areas. Many of the team have appeared on panels and given presentations at major events on these topics and will continue to do so. In order to further the goals of self-sovereign ID, security and to foster innovation in the blockchain space, Blockpass has also partnered with Edinburgh Napier University to research identity solutions and other potential applications of the technology for development.

Besides working alongside academia, Blockpass is also partnering with a variety of companies (a full list of which can be found on the Blockpass website) and has worked with a number of entities such as the Trusted IoT Alliance and companies in various industry sectors. Blockpass is always keen to work with those who have and interest in compliance and regulation, or progressing with blockchain technology and the Internet of Things, and welcomes discussions with others on how to approach and integrate with these exciting new developments.