Back to the Future: Block Chain and 1998

March 17, 2022

For the past few years, I’ve been following the reaction of the mainstream market to the advent of and applications of blockchain and it reminds me of 1998 when the Internet was about to “cross the chasm.” Executives in banking, pharma, and healthcare (among others) aren’t shy about using the term blockchain but I’m sure very few of them understand the potential positive impact it can have on their industry or would allow it into their production applications.

Doc, I’m from the future. I came here in a time machine that you invented. Now I need your help to get back to the year 1985.

Marty McFly

In 1998, while starting up my prior company, I remember having conversations with CIOs of large enterprise companies who were vehemently against giving Internet access to their employees to access our application. (Gateway, Compaq, IBM, AMEX, Univision, etc) Their objections were based on fear rather than based on a fact-based business assessment. Their objections centered around all of the potential bad behavior that the Internet would introduce to their enterprises: employees wasting time, illicit websites, hacking, security breaches, etc. It turns out, all of these things were true…the Internet DID introduce all of these bad behaviors and more BUT the business value of incorporating the Internet and its related protocols outweighed those risks.

The same thing is happening today when executives evaluate blockchain and its related protocols. They are overweighting the negative and underweighting the positive value. We’re hearing the same objections: illicit behavior, breaches, security concerns, as we did during the Internet scale-up during the nineties.

“there is something fundamentally different between a sale to an early adopter and a sale to the early majority”
― Geoffrey A. Moore, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

We are in the “pre-chasm” phase of blockchain adoption. I’m hopeful that the Internet will accelerate the diffusion of blockchain innovation.

If you’d like to learn about how we are thinking about the impact of blockchain on B2B information, contact us.