At Gartner we have a type of research – “Maverick” – that is designed to spark new, unconventional insights (unconstrained by our typical process) to deliver breakthrough, innovative and disruptive ideas. In our recent Maverick research, we introduce the World Wide Ledger (WWL) concept and its societal impact which can be ground breaking. We draw parallels between WWW and WWL to show blockchain evolution mutates the web to “World Wide Ledger” where organizations can power up decentralized autonomous business units. These entities enable a programmable economy with new politics that change the competitive landscape.
Blockchain technologies are being considered as a technology innovation that centralized enterprises use to improve efficiencies, typically by establishing shared ledgers for a value chain or a digital platform. However, and more importantly, blockchain technologies have become the foundation for the evolution of new decentralized ecosystems. These decentralized systems can enable decentralized applications that can augment enterprise centralized model with new decentralized capabilities. In Maverick* Research: Crypto-Politics and ‘World Wide Ledger’ Will Rock Your Business Competition , we extend and expand that thinking in how blockchain evolution will eventually lead to a World Wide Ledger — a construct as powerful as the World Wide Web, one that collapses many traditional economic, national and societal constructs and ushers in a new wave of progress.
Value Exchange in the World Wide Web
In the absence of the World Wide Ledger, organizations have developed web applications to capture and track information about value exchange as part of business processes that are facilitated by trusted third-party organizations. The information exchange manifestation is usually for a singular form of asset that is a fiat currency. This has created many information silos that shadow the actual value exchange activities. The information is usually aggregated in traditional institutions that manage the different types of assets’ life cycles. The key enabling factor is standard information transport protocols that are enabled by the internet connectivity. In other words, the primary focus of automation has been on information management which is dependent on many auxiliary capabilities, such as identity and access management (IAM) and information security.
Value Exchange in the World Wide Ledger
With the addition of the World Wide Ledger, organizations can develop interoperable decentralized applications at scale to digitalize multiple kinds of assets (not just fiat-based) and automate the actual value exchange processes (not just manage information about the value exchange). That includes the opportunity to embed the information about the asset into its actual state including how it (and its value) dynamically changes and how that is connected to its creation and exchange. The outcome is that traditional institutions that engage in managing value can digitalize their functions directly within WWL.
WWL and WWW Comparison
The key enabling factor for value exchange in WWL is the implementation of algorithmic trust controls at a global scale using a “plug and play” architecture facilitated by an interoperable network of blockchain platforms. In other words, the primary focus will become autonomous native value management. Why is the autonomous native value management important? Because native value storage and exchange leads to a whole slew of new possibilities — any digitalized asset (tangible or intangible) can become liquid and efficiently tradable on digital markets. It also further blurs the separation between physical and virtual worlds, and allows for “digital creativity”.
This is difficult for us to imagine today since the internet has allowed only for information transmission and storage, together with fiat exchange. This can be manipulated. This is a progression from internet basic connectivity to facilitating information management in WWW and onto facilitating value management in WWL and, thus, the creation of the programmable economy. The following table shows a quick comparisons between WWW and WWL that may help to better understand this mutation:
For more information and recommendations on these ideas and WWL high-level design and its impact on society, you can start with the Gartner report on ” Maverick* Research: Crypto-Politics and ‘World Wide Ledger’ Will Rock Your Business Competition ,” which was published in September 2018.
 Full report is available to Gartner subscribers.