[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 24, 2018 / by Ken Pulverman
... 10 Seats of Tableau
... 9 AGVs
... 8 One-eyed Wearables
... 7 Dumb Drones
... 6 Senseless Sensors
... 5 RFID Tags
... 4 Data Science Boot Camp Graduates
... 3 Used 3D Printers
... 2 Mindless Co-bots
... And Another Vendor Pitching IIoT
This was really supposed to be the year of blockchain, wasn’t it? With all the world’s illegal funds moving to crypto currencies, wasn’t that going to be the breakout use case that created boom towns?
To beat up on crypto some more, there is one town in the U.S. that has dramatically cheaper power-based on hydro in the middle of nowhere. A whole bunch of crypto entrepreneurs build data centers there to mine crypto currencies. As the prices fall to WTF levels, this notion is now actually as ridiculous as it sounded. I imagine you’ll soon be able to build a “green” home there by taking surplus servers and mortaring them together to form you own post-apocalyptic adobe house. How charming. My prediction is that Massena, NY, is about to have way too many highly creative and wildly unprofitable bakeries.
OK, crypto, you deserve it. There was no way in the era of global warming that burning up the world’s resources to create an unregulated currency from thin are was going to garner a lot of love in the long term. Let’s face it, countries don’t like unregulated. You can’t tax it or track it. There certainly will be a crypto currency that rises from the ashes, but it will likely play by the rules and win not because it untraceable, but rather because it removes friction.
Blockchain, on the other hand, is a cool concept, but I fear it is still a solution looking for a problem to solve. At the start of the year, I attended on conference of energy industry investors. All they really wanted to talk about was blockchain. No one had a decent use case to discuss, but they all wanted a seat on that rocket ship. I imagine post-crypto crash they have moved on. This will be the time, however, where really interesting use cases will come to life.
At the 4th Industrial Community Meeting at the WEF in Geneva this fall, industry is already talking about a great one. What if you could trace the principle materials that go into a new product and ensure through specific traceability that they do get recycled. You could tax companies where the ledger doesn’t balance out over time. Image the effect if companies now were incented to build products for sustainability. Not only would landfills stop growing, the true cost footprint would start to be exposed.
Unlike the crypto crowd who are clearly motivated by greed, I am product of my industrial peeps who really are thinking about the planet. They are diving in to investigate such deep traceability not because it will be cheaper … it won’t be …they are doing it because it is the right thing to do.
There are certainly efficiency benefits. We verify and re-verify parts availabilities today only to have parts bins go dry, especially where made-to-order is involved. As a tracer and authenticator of any stored value, block could have a revolutionary impact on supply chains.
There is absolute real value here. I am going to read the books, but boss, I am glad you didn’t buy any solutions yet. This solution needs to chase some more problems. We’ve got lots it can solve, but we are going to need another round of entrepreneurs who either need to come from industrial companies or really dig deep on the use cases to find a problem they can solve. I guarantee it won’t have anything do with an overheated server in some former mill town.
Blockchain. If your operation doesn’t run at the bleeding edge, put in in the “Useful in Future File” and move on. Hey, it’s the eleventh day of Christmas and the night before the big day. I am going to pour a tall glass of eggnog that is heavy on the nog, kick up the footrest on the recliner and grab the thickest of the blockchain books. I imagine I will have sugar plum fairies dancing in my head shortly. Boss, I’ll join the land of the living tomorrow for your grand finale. Don’t laugh if I have a paragraph of blockchain fundamentals on my cheek backwards.
About The Author
Ken is the CMO at Parsable.