Blockchain Education

Five potential blockchain project pitfalls — and how to avoid them!

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Companies around the world are jumping on the blockchain bandwagon. A recent survey of almost 3,000 global C-suite executives found that 33 percent of organizations, on average, across all industries and regions are already considering or actively engaged with blockchains.

Over the past two years, I’ve worked on many blockchain projects where I’ve seen clients stumble over the same pitfalls time and time again. Fortunately, you don’t have to learn about these the hard way. Read on to find out how you can have smooth sailing on your blockchain journey.

1. Do you think Bitcoin and blockchain are the same?

If you’ve explored Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, you’re probably aware of distributed ledger technology and have seen how it works. However, confusion arising from familiarity with non-permissioned ledgers could prevent you from fully understanding permissioned blockchain for business networks.

What you can do: Educate yourself. This blog post explains how Bitcoin and blockchain  differ, and IBM offers various resources to help you better understand the technology.

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2. Are you overestimating the abilities of blockchain?

The constant hype around blockchain can mislead you into thinking distributed ledgers are the solution to all problems (and then some!).

What you can do: Read the “10 things that blockchain is NOT,“ and then test whether a blockchain solution would fit your business processes. Continue testing during the design thinking process so you don’t end up with a product that doesn’t provide the capabilities you need it to.

3. Do you really know what business challenge you’re trying to solve?

Sometimes, the professionals that get assigned to a project don’t have in-depth knowledge of the overall business problem. Without that foundation, they struggle to guide the development process.

What you can do: Set up a design thinking workshop to get clear, passionate business sponsorship and quality input from experts. Ensure project participants can describe how current systems are used and explain the challenges of using them.

4. Are your goals for blockchain shared by your business network?

If your project is only sponsored by technologists, it could be lacking a clear business transformation goal. Blockchain is really a team sport that requires involvement not only from within your company but also from your business partners and clients.

What you can do: Involve the minimal viable ecosystem (MVE) participants from the beginning and ensure they don’t have conflicting goals. Slightly accelerated persona-led design thinking sessions can clarify the business value of blockchain to stakeholders. Business network members should participate to thoroughly understand the use case and debate its accrued value until you have well-defined objectives.

5. Are you biting off more than you can chew?

Your initial use case might prove to be unsuitable, either because blockchain is still an emerging technology and you lack the required resources or because the client doesn’t have an appropriate level of blockchain knowledge.

What you can do: Start small by choosing the right starter use case or segment of a bigger use case. It’s a great way to get hands-on experience and become comfortable with the technology. Next, use an agile approach to iteratively expand your project as more resources become available. You can prioritize solution features across agile sprints to accelerate the development and deployment of a minimum viable product.

It’s easy to get carried away by the excitement of your first blockchain project.

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