The Real Business of Blockchain: A book review by Bob Morris

The Real Business of Blockchain: How Leaders Can Create Value in a New Digital Age
David Furlonger and Christophe Uzureau
Harvard Business Review Press (October 2019)

Here’s a reliable roadmap for tracking profitable use of a world-changing technology

David Furlonger and Christophe Uzureau note that business leaders today must find the answers to uniquely difficult questions such as these: What role can and should blockchain play in their organization in months and years to come? Which changes in their operations will adopting blockchain require? How to obtain wide and deep buy-in of change initiatives?

Furlonger and Uzureau wrote this book in order to provide information, insights, and counsel that leaders — at all levels and in all areas — need to understand as to where and how blockchain could accelerate digital transformation, interact with other technologies, and affect organizational and societal constructs.

In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff attacks Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others for extracting our personal data and turning it to profitable ends, preying on behavioral weaknesses. This was certainly not what Tim Berners-Lee had in mind when sharing his concept of a worldwide web in 1993.

Furlonger and Uzureau express their concern: “Market actors with vested interests in maintaining centralized governance models are already pushing blockchain-inspired models as the market status quo. If their efforts succeed and prevent the evolution toward blockchain-complete solutions, you will miss a critical inflection point in the evolution of digital business.”

Why? Millions of economic agents would then be controlled by a central intermediary, “one that converts data into predictive analytics…that will benefit only a small percentage of the population.”

These are the five core elements of blockchain architecture on which Furlonger and Uzureau focus: Distribution, Encryption, Immutability, Tokenization, and Decentralization. Here are some of the passages of greatest interest and value to me:

o Tokens and tokenization (Pages 4-6, 13-14, and 75-97)
o Enhanced blockchain (14-16)
o Centralization and blockchain (27-34)
o Consortia (47-71)
o Gaming industry (86-89 ND 95-96)

o Decentralization (99-122)
o Value of devaluation (108-120)
o Financial Innovation Through Blockchain-Complete Solutions (129-138)
o Artificial intelligence/Internet of Things (145-168)
o Artificial intelligence and blockchain in decentralized society (146-155)

o Leadership in decentralized society (169-171, 174-175, and 177-186)
o DOAs (179-186)
o Recruitment/empowerment of employees (181-185)
o Blockcbain society (191-213)
o Identity in blockchain society (200-204)

I agree with David Furlonger and Christophe Uzurea’s concluding observation that leaders who believe in what blockchain can help to accomplish “cannot wait five, ten, or fifteen years to see how the blockchain evolves. They need to define and execute now on their vision of a programming future with decentralized access, influence, and value, for the benefit of all.”

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out another recently published book, Blockchain: The Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review.

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