Blockchain and artificial intelligence can have a tremendous impact on businesses and will probably drive innovation in the future. By now, companies have not only heard about Blockchain and AI, but have started implementing them as well. Some have it in production, but most are still experimenting around with it in development and testing. It is becoming increasingly necessary for all companies to integrate blockchain and AI technologies or be at risk of being left behind. As a managing director at Aponia Data Solutions, I have led customer-centric digital transformation and innovation engagements integrating blockchain and AI for customers and worked directly with the line of business and C-level executives. Blockchain and artificial intelligence play quite a role in digital transformation processes, as well as offering services to clients that want to apply blockchain technology on their products and services, and additionally, on tools surrounding the usage of AI-enabled blockchain.
Organizations and leaders on the path of innovation will encounter barriers that prevent them from digital transformation and adopting artificial intelligence and Blockchain technologies. Using these new technologies to drive digital transformation can be a challenge. Frequently, executive teams do not fully comprehend the art of the possibility, the big idea that will accelerate their business, and what they can do about it.
A fundamental issue with several of these hurdles is the lack of skills and talent. There is still a significant talent shortage in the field of new technologies, particularly AI and blockchain. Many of these businesses now want to leverage their inability to locate qualified employees, and that means they must reskill their existing personnel. Many companies are doing a fantastic job with it since they have been able to shift their culture and embrace creativity with new employees and give their existing talent new skillsets. This has allowed existing personnel to combine their subject-matter expertise with new artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.
Another challenge in terms of adopting new technology is a lack of a strategic approach. Many organizations have started experimenting with blockchain and AI minimal viable products (MVP) and pilots. However, none of this is coordinated well enough, so we collaborate with business leaders through design thinking exercises and coming up with big ideas to strategically use some of these emerging technologies to grow their business while focusing on providing exceptional customer value. Too many AI and blockchain pilots have been disconnected and unsuccessful. Hence, it would be best to look for a few low-hanging fruit projects based on big-idea items that connect with corporate strategy and then leverage technology to implement digital transformation. Moreover, to illustrate that innovation leads to success and a better customer experience, “fast-wins” are worth a glance. These are the most substantial barriers to digital transformation, blockchain, and AI globally, and it is best to start directly with your organization’s culture.
Leaders must nurture an innovative culture to be successful with integrating blockchain and AI into their organizations. Establish a small, focused team to oversee the research of emerging technologies, development, and continual enhancement of specific new ideas, products, and services to promote accountability and commitment. Creating an efficient organizational structure to support innovation must be aligned with different functions around blockchain and AI that include cross-functional teams from finance, IT, sales, marketing, and operations. Measuring the outcomes and success of innovation is critical. Leaders must also be more agile in their internal operations. The focus on innovating internal processes is as important as innovating the customer experience. It requires a change in terms of what they do in business processes and this is a very understandable fear and reluctance.
There’s a great number of opportunities to finance not just large-scale infrastructures but many small-scale activities too. Many businesses can now include their products and services into an AI-enabled blockchain network with their business partners, through entering into digital contracts, and then receiving the items. This will trigger payment, and you’ll be able to monitor those things from the raw materials to the end customer. That continuity of information and data exists at every step along the route, from one end of the chain, the end customer, to the raw materials.
Furthermore, we can elaborate by taking an example, such as Walmart. Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, and it is considering putting many of its vendors on a food blockchain network to increase supply chain transparency.
This provides Walmart unprecedented visibility into the life of every single product it sells by tracking every step, from the harvesting of raw materials to the manufacturing of a finished item, delivering the good to the store, and finally to the point of sale. Because blockchain allows for the development of an immutable audit trail, Walmart and other corporations the following suit may provide greater certainty to their customers, investors, and regulators.
Leaders can learn from the Walmart case that having a proactive approach to project management emphasizes the necessity of the business department, not the IT department, assuming ownership. Make sure the business case is clear and that you not only understand the technology but that you also understand the business challenge. Cross-collaboration is crucial for ensuring that all departments engaged in the process are included in the execution. In any corporate change, demonstrating the value of technology and having a goal to strive for is critical. Ensure to execute those quick-win pilots first before launching your AI-enabled blockchain project on a large scale. There are many blockchain use cases where the most difficult thing is prioritizing the one you think there’s a ton of business value.
However, the healthcare industry is one of the areas that I believe will see a lot of work around Blockchains. E.g., in some states within the U.S., hospitals sustained a combined impact of billions of dollars of lost revenue and increased expenses as COVID-19 cases surged through these states. While some states struggle toward economic recovery, state hospitals have increasingly relied on the charity care subsidy program, which treats the uninsured citizens within the state. By creating an immutable digital record of the free and point of care services they provide, hospitals can recover much-needed revenue for a sector that reliably provides hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The opportunity for blockchain and artificial intelligence is enormous across several industries of all sizes. It is all about breaking down the informational silos between companies and understanding the life cycle of technologies, not to mention the fact that these life cycles are continuing to shorten as the pace of technological innovation increases. When a company can recognize when emerging technologies are ready to go mainstream giving a maximal return on investment.
Acquiring the latest AI and blockchain technology has its benefits and its associated risks. However, not engaging in an innovative strategy can make a firm lose its competitive edge. It is crucial to identify both the potential benefits as well as the accompanying risks.
And then put those benefits and risks into a financial perspective to use open innovation strategy as a company looks into aligning their strategy with the use of artificial intelligence and Blockchain. Leaders must embrace artificial intelligence and Blockchain as the Future of Business.