CIO Jury: Two-thirds of tech leaders are using or exploring blockchain applications

Blockchain is beginning to break through the buzz, as companies seek out use cases for the distributed ledger technology.

Why the blockchain could fundamentally alter enterprise business

Blockchain has been one of the buzziest tech words of 2018, and many companies are trying to determine what use cases may make sense for the distributed ledger technology. Those in some industries, including manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, are using the technology to regulate supply chains. However, only 1% of organizations have already invested in and deployed a blockchain solution, according to a Gartner report.

We surveyed the TechRepublic CIO Jury to determine organizations' interest in blockchain solutions. When asked, "Is your company currently using or exploring any blockchain applications?", eight tech leaders said yes, while four said no.

"Our agency is monitoring the evolution of blockchain," said Cory Wilburn, CIO of Texas General Land Office. "While we have no current projects, we strongly believe that blockchain will be an important technology that we will leverage for contract management and automation, tracking land ownership, and possibly other use cases."

SEE: IT leader's guide to the blockchain (Tech Pro Research)

Inder Davalur, group CIO of KIMS Hospitals Private Limited, said the hospitals were considering blockchain's use in the lab process, "specifically for the billing and specimen chain of custody," he said.

Law is another area with blockchain applications, said Jerry Justice, CIO of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP. "[We have] two targets: Client consultative and application," Justice said. "But like many emerging technologies, these things do not happen in vacuum. It takes time to evolve, and there are external forces at play."

In the insurance field, Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, said his organization is exploring potential blockchain applications for insurance data. "There are a few blockchains in use, but a dominant standard for the industry has not yet emerged," Spears said. "In financial services, it will be more about smart contracts and data sharing versus supply chain management in manufacturing and pharmaceuticals."

SEE: Quick glossary: Blockchain (Tech Pro Research)

Dan Gallivan, director of information technology at Payette, said his firm is currently "aware and exploring" blockchain, but does not have plans for any immediate adoption of blockchain applications.

Mendix is building applications with blockchain for customers, said CTO Johan Den Haan, and is exploring the technology's use in the supply chain space.

"I think we're seeing a lot of companies getting into blockchain now because it's a way to reduce cost within a supply chain throughout the lifecycle of a product, and it creates complete trust by creating a single source of truth," said Dan Hopkins, vice president of innovation at Apttus. "While most companies are using blockchain for identity management, here at Apttus we're essentially using it as a 'product identity management' tool," with smart contracts in particular.

On the other side of the spectrum, many companies are waiting for the technology to mature before diving in.

"We don't see a compelling use case yet for our business," said Michael Hanken, vice president of IT at Multiquip Inc.

John Nash, chief strategy officer at RedPoint Global, also said his firm is not currently implementing any blockchain projects. "One of the benefits of blockchain is that it forms a trusted, transparent view of data," Nash said. "There are other more practical, scalable ways to get that trusted, transparent view of data from a marketer's perspective, and in ways that deliver high ROI today."

This month's CIO Jury included:

  • David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP
  • Inder Davalur, group CIO, KIMS Hospitals Private Limited
  • Johan den Haan, CTO, Mendix
  • Jerry Justice, CIO, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP
  • Dan Gallivan, director of information technology, Payette
  • Michael R. Belote, CTO, Mercer University
  • Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer, National Council on Compensation Insurance
  • Dan Hopkins, vice president of Innovation, Apttus
  • Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
  • Kris Seeburn, independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher
  • Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip Inc.
  • John Nash, chief strategy officer, RedPoint Global

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent, at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot rayome at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

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