Gartner and the future of Blockchain
It has been 13 years since a certain Sathosi Nakamoto published his now famous article on Bitcoin. Satoshi, described a cryptographic proof-based electronic payment system that basically allowed two interested parties to transact directly with each other, without the need for a trusted third party.
As you know, the rest is history ... We are currently immersed in the era of hyper-automation, where the incursion of blockchain technology is practically omnipresent and transversal to a multitude of use cases in different sectors. Its use guarantees the reliability of transactions between devices, provides traceability to all types of business processes, in addition to being able to certify the origin / authenticity of practically any physical or digital object. We are experiencing an outburst in the expectations and utilities of this incredible technology that opens the doors to the internet of value and all that this implies for the dynamization of the global economy.
This year, and after our accumulated experience using Blockchain technology, it is worthwhile to pay attention in the analysis of the "Hype Cycle of Blockchain 2021" published by Gartner.
In this first part of the post, we are going to review the first two stages of the Hype Cycle, where Gartner places those less developed technologies, but at the same time more disruptive and innovative, and that also live a great moment in the media due to the expectations they arouse.
Gartner identifies this phase as the moment of launching a technology on which a certain scope and usefulness is assumed. The technological developments that are in this phase have yet to demonstrate their effectiveness and consistency when building a new product or service. This is the area where the technological developments that are focused on R&D are located. At Izertis we have made a clear commitment to research in blockchain technologies, where we have been working for more than 5 years, identifying and aligning our strategy with the latest trends that Gartner analyzes today.
This year several blockchain technologies are identified that are in this phase, but we are going to focus at one in particular:
Perhaps it is one of the great challenges that blockchain technology faces. Although the Blockchain guarantees us that trust, how to guarantee the authenticity of what is entered? This is probably one of the main challenges of computer systems generally solved through centralization and trust placed on an entity, but is this “acceptable” in a Blockchain solution? How to get a 100% reliable system?
This is one of the main challenges facing the application of Blockchain technology, which was identified in logistics traceability solutions and, currently, is reflected with NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens. And, the NFTs by themselves are not enough to demonstrate the authenticity and authorship of a product or service. Therefore, the need arises to establish mechanisms that are capable not only of identifying a digital object as unique, but also that its author claims to be who he really is and that he has signed and produced that work / service / product. Hence the importance of this trend identified by Gartner.
In order to mature the technology and its use cases we need a certification that anything of value has been created by an identifiable person in the specific instance at the time of creation. The key is to certify through an identifiable person who is the owner of the content / product at the time of its creation.
Currently, we are working on proposals that use NFT technologies that, in combination with other technologies such as the use of ioT devices, certify the authenticity and authorship of products or services throughout different supply chains and adding new layers of value to the data. Also, always keeping in mind that the important thing is to demonstrate that technology can build solid business models, without fissures and capable of developing solutions that can be transformed into excellent products.
In this sense, one of our use cases where we addressed the resolution of this challenge was the Transparent Cold Chain project with Capsa Foods, where we certify the veracity and authenticity of the data of different food products throughout their life cycle until reaching the consumer. The challenge was to use blockchain technology to record the status of the products in real time and in an updated way, guaranteeing their optimal quality when they are delivered to the end customer. In order to implement this solution, we need to combine our blockchain solution with the design of specific ioT devices that provide us with process data (humidity, temperature, vehicle acceleration, etc.). With this solution we certify the origin, authorship and life cycle of the data associated with different products, adding value when auditing the cold chains and food preservation.
Peak of oversized expectations
This is where Gartner places technologies that have perhaps too high expectations, are flooded with enthusiasm for what may be unrealistic. At this point, we focus on one of the technologies we have spent the most time on this 2021 at Izertis, decentralized or Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI).
Perhaps expectations are oversized by the scope that the implementation of this technology can have and the use cases that, on paper, it is capable of solving. Decentralized and self-sovereign identity represents one of the most disruptive technological changes in recent years. Can you imagine that no private service or product company had your personal data in their possession? That the servers do not record any personal information of the users? What if all my health data were in my wallet without having to save them in any external service? Without a doubt, it is a "Game Changer". Think about the agility that it can give to ecommerce platforms in purchasing processes or the freedom it gives us when building applications without thinking about the sensitivity of the data or the increase in security that it brings to the systems, since we are moving to a distributed configuration of information where there are no longer central data servers to attack. The information is distributed in an encrypted, immutable and decentralized blockchain network.
In this new paradigm, the user is responsible for creating and controlling their sensitive data, as we do with our ID in our physical wallet, but in the digital world and with a wallet. Individual identity holders create and fully control their credentials, without being forced to seek permission from an intermediary or centralized authority and giving them control over how their personal data is shared and used.
At this time, we are working on the launch of the ComVida project, a solution financed by the World Bank for the Government of Cape Verde, where we use SSI to create personal digital identifiers in which we collect all the health information of national and foreign citizens who are in the country.
To do this, we have built a platform that is focused on interoperability, allowing other services to be integrated to make use of this technology in the future. For the development of this use case we have had the participation of the Ministry of Health, hospitals and health centres, verification entities, travellers and citizens.
The results that we are obtaining are really positive. The use of the solution facilitates the authorities the agile management of COVID-19, facilitating the control of the flow of travellers and their attendance to different areas. Such is the success that we are already preparing for its entry into production after successfully passing the proof of concept phase.
So far, our analysis of this first stage of Gartner's Hype Cycle for blockchain. In the next post we will see the next stages of the cycle where we will talk about those functionalities that are more consolidated and that have a higher degree of maturity and, consequently, less over-expectation.