Industry Insights

Unpacking a blockchain use case

Careful choice of use case is critical to a successful blockchain first project.  In a previous blog post I have discussed the application of ideation and prioritization techniques, and blockchain fit tests to use case selection.

I will now outline ten questions which can be used to understand the selected use case in sufficient detail to start the Design Thinking processes which kicks off the First Project.

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[Q1] What’s the specific business problem / challenge that the first project will address?

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to scope the business challenge up front, so that efforts can be totally focused on core – rather than peripheral – issues.  We focus on specific problem statements, and this is very much a business (not technical) discussion.

[Q2] What’s the current way of solving this business problem?

We talk to users of the current systems, who can explain how they work.  We need this to understand (a) the areas for improvement and (b) if blockchain can add value.

[Q3] Assuming the business problem is large what specific aspects of this business problem will be addressed by the first project?

Start small, learn & grow fast is our approach to blockchain first projects.  Hence we look to break up large business challenges into smaller pieces to decide where we should start.

[Q4] Who are the business network participants (organizations) involved and what are their roles?

If there is no business network involved, it’s simply not a good blockchain use case.  Assuming that this is not the case, we map out the network participants and their roles.  For each participant we understand if they are core or peripheral to the business process.

[Q5] Who are the specific people within the organizations and what are their job roles?

For effective Design Thinking, we need to get “up close & personal” with key users in the business network.  The more clarity the better!  So we drill down into the core business network participants to understand the specific job roles of those involved.

[Q6] What assets are involved and what is the key information associated with the assets?

With blockchain, we can get total clarity of what is done when, by whom.  So we need to understand the assets (tangible or intangible) that are being transferred across the business network, and the information associated with each asset.

[Q7] What are the transactions involved, between whom, and what assets are associated with each transaction?

We need to understand the movement of assets across the business network, who’s involved with transferring assets and under what business or contractual conditions they move from one owner to another.

[Q8] What are the main steps in the current workflow and how are these executed by the business network participants?

It’s important to understand the current workflow as it crosses the business network.  This is critical part of understanding how things work now before blockchain technology is applied, and helps us make sure that this is a good blockchain use case.

[Q9] What is the expected benefit of applying blockchain technology to the business problem for each of the network participants?

This is really a cross check.  Through the answers to question 1 – 8, the we will have a good idea about the potential benefits that blockchain can offer – this questions is to align with the customer expectations!

[Q10] What legacy systems are involved?  What degree of integration with the legacy systems is needed?

There are multiple ways that the blockchain based system can integrate with, or work along side existing systems.  Through understanding what already exists, and where critical information is stored, we will be able to recommend the best approach to minimise implementation risk

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Armed with this information, we can proceed with confidence into the Design Thinking process, where we will understand the current systems and their challenges from a user centric viewpoint, before looking for and actioning actions to improve.

These links may be of interest to learn more about blockchain:

  1. Blockchain for Government
  2. Proving Provenance with Blockchain
  3. Blockchain Privacy Services
  4. Blockchain for Asset Registration
  5. Building a Blockchain Business Network
  6. Blockchain Consensus
  7. Accelerating Time to Value with Fabric Composer

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