The potential of blockchain is enormous as it will be a foundational protocol for the next generation Web 3.0 which we expect will overtake the current Web 2.0 in 5-7 years.
Here is how we define Web 3.0, the decentralized Web:
Source: Guidance for Assessing Blockchain Platforms, Homan Farahmand, Gartner.
See also Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technologies 2019 for Gartner writeup on Decentralized Web.
Web 3.0, the Decentralized Web, Defined
To summarize, blockchain technology will be a foundation protocol of Web 3.0, which will support peer to peer transactions and communications that eliminate the need and functions of Web 2.0 central authorities and ‘gatekeepers‘ such as major search engines and social media sites. Blockchain-based peer to peer transactions will range from value transfers of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, to anonymized identity information and financial accounts that users control.
Web 3.0 will transform us from Web 2.0’s monetization via surveillance capitalism and advertising to monetization built directly into the protocol that is equally available to any connected user.
Pockets of Enterprise Blockchain Success
In the meantime we are seeing limited but noteworthy pockets of success in enterprise blockchain primarily in supply chain (asset tracking and provenance) and payment (mainly stablecoin, fiat token) use cases. The main reason why enterprise blockchain success is limited – aside from technology immaturity – is that the governance models are still basically centralized. They typically replace central authorities with task force/committee/consortium authority where a couple of players exert the most influence. The state of enterprise blockchain today is akin to EDI 3.0 and not much more than that, though it does have significant evolutionary value by leveraging a combination of transforming technologies including AI, IoT, and blockchain.
Blockchain’s Big Bang
The big bang with for enterprises, when it comes blockchain, will not occur until businesses learn to participate in a truly decentralized model. That won’t happen until we move to Web 3.0, and the technologies that support it are mature and scalable. At that point, users won’t have to worry about blockchain protocols, just like today they don’t worry about underlying Internet protocols.
Users and consumers, who in many cases will be their own application and content developers, will just have to worry about their decentralized applications and processes. The rest will just work. We may even get to a point of ‘government for the people by the people’ but that’s for the libertarians to figure out.