In school, we learned A for Apple, B for Ball, C for Cat and D for Dog. In the technology world as of date, this would read as A for AI (Artificial Intelligence), B for Blockchain, C for Cloud and D for Data Analytics.
Here is the thing: Having been associated with blockchain for a while; I can confidently say that B for Blockchain is one of the hottest kids on the technology block. Blockchain is here to stay and the blockchain action has just begun. It is no wonder that there is daily buzz on blockchain news, views, insights and perspectives.
However, one constant feedback I hear from the ecosystem (customers, partners, thought leaders, CxO's / executive leadership) is for blockchain perspectives from those who have actively worked on blockchain. In an endeavor to share interesting insights and updates from multiple perspectives from the world of blockchain, the "Get blockchain'd with" series is designed to bring you blockchain views from voices from across the globe on a regular basis.
Our very first publication is this series is with Dr. Gideon Greenspan, the founder and CEO of Coin Sciences Ltd. In this post, learn about the perspectives of Dr. Gideon Greenspan in his journey to get blockchain'd.
Nischala: Let's start with basics. What is a layman definition of blockchain?
Dr Gideon Greenspan: A blockchain is a new type of database, which can be safely and directly shared between non-trusting entities without a trusted intermediary. It is used both in cryptocurrencies, which are open to the whole world, as well as closed or semi-closed permissioned systems for enterprises.
Nischala: As a hardcore multilingual coder with a PhD in Computer Science, how did you catch the blockchain buzz and bus to be the CEO of MultiChain?
Dr Gideon Greenspan: It began with a fascination with bitcoin, whose technology blew me away when I first studied it, and which interested me as a new method of accepting payment for several of my online businesses. This got me thinking about what else blockchains could be used for, apart from cryptocurrencies. So I decided to found a company in the space with some other great developers I had known for a long time.
Nischala: What would be your answer to a CEO on Why blockchain?
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: From the perspective of a company CEO, blockchains are a new approach to integrating data systems together, providing an alternative to existing methods such as messaging, centralized databases and external APIs. They enable a combination of disintermediation and rapid proven synchronization, at the cost of reduced confidentiality between the chain's participants.
Nischala: What is the market uptake for public and private blockchains? What are the key considerations for this choice?
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: Both types of blockchain are growing rapidly in interest and usage, but each has a completely different purpose and audience. Public blockchains and their associated cryptocurrencies are appealing as a method for directly transferring economic value across the Internet without an intermediary, and as an alternative asset class. Private blockchains are being evaluated by companies across many industries as a new approach to working with their partners and competitors, as well as for internal data security.
Nischala: What industry verticals and use cases will get on blockchain by 2018? Why?
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: As a technology, blockchains are no more industry specific than relational databases or email, so in the long run I expect this question to fade away. For now however, we're seeing the greatest interest in the finance and government sectors. The most popular use cases we've seen so far are document aggregation and timestamping, and the creation of small-scale financial networks.
Nischala: Do you observe any geo specific trends on the uptake of blockchain within enterprises? – US, Europe, APAC
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: At this point, in terms of adoption and movement to production, we're seeing the fastest uptake in countries which have advanced technology sectors but are not the most prominent centers for global commerce. Think of countries like Canada, India, and smaller European Union members.
Nischala: What are the challenges you have seen for enterprises who are keen to embark on the blockchain journey?
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: I think a primary challenge is developing a deep understanding of this technology at the level of senior management. Many discussions about blockchains remain disconnected from the technology's actual capabilities and limitations. This can lead to investment of time and money in projects, which make no sense and could never work.
Nischala: What are the key enablers to expedite blockchain adoption within enterprises?
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: To begin with, the identification of appropriate use cases, then, the ability to find and collaborate with suitable partners, who in many cases could be other enterprises or even competitors. Finally, the choice of a suitable blockchain platform and implementation partner(s) who can design and build a full solution reliably and efficiently.
Nischala: What is the most fascinating application that you have heard, read or seen on blockchain?
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: The most fascinating thing I've learned over the past few years is that permissioned blockchains have actually been around for decades, for example to protect data relating to vulnerable children from deletion or modification. But it was bitcoin's success that gave blockchains their name and market awareness, and triggered the emergence of general-purpose blockchain platforms such as MultiChain and Hyperledger.
Nischala: Blockchain by 2020 – How will it change the world?
Dr. Gideon Greenspan: I think it will take a lot longer than that. By 2020 we'll certainly see many blockchains in production, but they will still be a relatively small part of the database and middleware market. If we treat the history of relational databases as a guide, it will take 15-30 years for blockchains to find all of their use cases and reach their full potential in terms of transforming how companies collaborate and compete.
About Dr. Gideon Greenspan
Dr. Gideon Greenspan is the founder and CEO of Coin Sciences Ltd, the company behind MultiChain, the popular platform for private blockchains. MultiChain includes features such as permissions management, native assets, data streams and simple configuration and deployment, and has been used successfully for blockchain projects in many of the world's largest banks, consulting firms, financial technology and IT companies.
Dr. Greenspan is also a well-known writer on private blockchains, with a reputation for going beyond the hype to focus on genuine and practical applications of this technology. He has written extensively on the trade-offs between blockchains and regular centralized databases, the challenges of implementing smart contracts, and the criteria one should assess in determining whether to use a blockchain at all.
Gideon has a BA and PhD in Computer Science (Cambridge and Technion) and an MA in Philosophy (London).