Blockchain explained

A look at the business in blockchain-anchored business networks

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office towerIn building a blockchain platform-centric business network, it is very important to articulate and actualize the value for all stakeholders on that network. In our previous post, we discussed how important trust is to building these networks and the key role blockchain plays to enable trust and transparency for all participants. We also laid out the four dimensions which are key considerations to building effective business networks.

To be successful, business platforms must focus on all four of these dimensions — business, operations, legal and technology (BOLT) — at the same time from the early stages of development. We want to take this opportunity to look at the business dimension in more detail.

Here’s how the business part needs to be defined and measured against the four key elements:

1. Business intent: Define a business ecosystem with a common goal

The significance of the business network lies in its intent and network vision. The first thing is to define a business ecosystem with relevant organizations to participate and transact on the network to achieve a common goal. The next item to be focused is what will be solved on this network, to identify the extended or shared business processes that spreads across organization’s hand-shake while transacting.

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Innovate those identified business processes and optimize their flow from the platform perspective. The next important thing is to identify the assets and their lifecycle across organizations to be managed on the network. The final part is to define a roadmap, value proposition, time and cost benefits for all participants on the network and develop a progressive plan to move from minimum viable product (MVP) to an at scale production.

2. Business model: Define decentralized governance and operability

The business model should focus on the overall governance plan around ownership and operability of the network in a decentralized manner. The first thing is to identify and define the business ownership which includes on envisioning, creating and owning a stake on the blockchain business network. Identify the participating organizations and their associated geography, country-specific rules with respect to the identified business processes, and other factors.

The next important thing is to identify the cost implications, cost model and  a return on investment. Also, create a future network expansion roadmap that lays out new organizations to be on-boarded, more business functionalities to be added and more transactions to be handled in the next few years on the network.

3. Participants: From across the industry and with varying personas

Participants and personas are the key collaborative elements of a network. If the participants are from cross-industry and cross-geography, it will make the network more vibrant. Hence, it is required to identify and define the participant type (group of organizations of similar business) instead of participants. In other words, a buyer, supplier, bank, or others.

Identify and segregate organizations that have direct stakes on the network and define a strategy for direct rather than indirect participants. Also, identify organizations who are all needed to validate a transaction on the network. Conduct a design thinking workshop and identify the different personas (roles and responsibilities) within each organization on the network for executing the identified end-to-end business processes. Also, identify those applications and apps to support various personas.

4. Value proposition: Demonstrate the impact of the network to all participants

This is the key driving factor to be defined and evaluated for all stakeholders at every stage of the network progression, from proof of concept to MVP, to at scale rollout and finally production. It is required to define the network impact by evaluating the number of participants on the network and volume of transactions executed on the network. Also, it is significant to look at the number of cross-industries the network brings together.

Business data exchange is the key consideration, hence be sure to adopt globally accepted industry standards for information exchange. Call out clearly what business benefits are derived by all the participants on the network. Importantly, avoid controlling the entire network via a single source. Make it as a consensus-based decentralized network administration as “no-admin” model.

It’s important that business perspectives match the business intent of a network in order to achieve a common goal. Also, be sure to call out the value proposition for all stakeholders in order to sustain blockchain business networks in the enterprise world.

Stay tuned for our future posts which will go more in-depth into the other three dimensions with which to build an effective business network. And for more information and discussion on this topic, please feel free to reach out to us.

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IBM Fellow, CTO - IBM Blockchain Services

Srinivasa Raghavan

Executive IT Architect working in IBM Blockchain Services

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