Evaluating the Impact of Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence on Your Business

You know what’s important when it comes to running your successful small or medium sized business. You know how to grow and how to make a profit. Then you start hearing about new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence, and suddenly you’re in the deep end of the pool. You just don’t know where to start.

Let’s face it: large enterprise organizations are way ahead of SMBs when it comes to understanding disruptive technologies. Their existing powerful relationships with giants like Microsoft, IBM, Google, McKinsey, and KPMG give them easy access to expert-level knowledge and strategy, and their big budgets and generous resources facilitate implementation of full-scale tech efforts.

Meanwhile, most SMBs must justify even the initial decision to evaluate this new area from scratch. And it is potentially disruptive to the organization’s operations and morale when you must explain new initiatives to your senior staff who are busy delivering on the current objectives they’ve already promised to fulfill.

No matter the size of your business, it’s important to examine the implicit impact arising around these technologies. From the inherent opportunities to the competitive threats and the implications for what happens when you don’t keep up, analyzing these disruptive technologies is a step every company needs to take.

I remember the hype around the internet in the early 1990s—everyone wanted a seat on the bandwagon and doing anything was considered better than being left behind. As a result, many efforts that emerged were simply pointless. As deep as we are in the new digital age, senior executives at SMBs know that being left behind is scary. But let’s not make the same mistake again by applying surface level blockchain solutions where something else would do just as well.

Yes, cryptocurrencies and tokens are important, but despite their buzzword popularity, these are merely initial indications of the power of blockchain. Bitcoin is nothing more than the first “killer app” built on the foundation of blockchain, in the same way that email was the first “killer app” built on the foundation called the internet. While the world wide web became an on-ramp for everyone to create solutions that we could not even imagine in those heady early days, keep your eyes open because the common access to blockchain technology has not yet been invented.

At the same time, blockchain is not a panacea. I encourage my clients to go beyond the hype and focus on the business value that can result from building on a blockchain. The most important first step is to conduct a serious evaluation through a proper framework. Then you will be able to jump in with a well thought through approach or confidently say: “No thanks, it’s not for me, not now.”

As I discuss the potential blockchain threats and opportunities for revenue growth, CEOs of SMBs often ask about the impact of other disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence. What about the internet of things? Then there’s machine learning, analytics and data science, cloud computing, advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and more. Some of the potential benefits of these new technologies are mind-boggling, but so is the length of the list.

A lot of people say they already feel that blockchain is beyond their pay grade, so they don’t understand why I’m now suggesting they also need to learn about and consider other “futuristic” technologies. The answer is that I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s the future coming right at us. Don’t get left in the wake of progress nor jump in before you should. Instead, learn everything you can, every way you can, and then conduct a formal analysis of the potential impact on your business.