Blockchain named by PwC and Gartner as disruptive 2017 technology

A report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) has named blockchain as a ‘tech breakthrough megatrend’ for CIOs, while Gartner has named it as one of its top 10 strategic technologies for 2017.

The PwC report aims to examine how the C-suite can begin to make sense of the various technological breakthroughs today, and names artificial intelligence, augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR), drones and robots, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things alongside blockchain as a key trend.

Admitting that none of the technologies picked should be of any surprise to CEOs given the ‘breathless’ coverage often afforded to them, PwC does note that there remains ‘significant debate’ over the monitoring and regulation of blockchain. Yet the report notes the financial aspect of blockchain primarily, as well as the potential for enterprise transformation.

“Blockchain enables a ‘central, immutable ledger of transactions’ that ‘would allow auditors and regulators to rapidly monitor the flow of financial data, avoiding after-the-fact verification,’” the report notes. “We anticipate that new blockchain technology will do much to transform the compliance practices of enterprises large and small.”

Assessing all the technologies, PwC argued there were five ‘catalysts of change’. These catalysts ranged from increased comfort with technology, to cheaper access, globalisation, competitive advantage, and the multiplier effect, where individual technologies build on top of each other. Overall, PwC picked the winning eight from more than 150 technologies screened.

“It is best not to treat the technologies as a kind of checklist to delegate to the CIO or the CTO,” a post on the PwC website affirms. “Instead, CEOs must take very seriously their own obligations to turn these technologies to strategic advantage – and to protect their organisations against others using the technologies for advantage.

“If that sounds something like an arms race, that’s because it is,” PwC adds.

Elsewhere, Gartner named ‘blockchain and distributed ledger’ as one of its 10 key technologies for the coming year. Noting that ‘significant technology challenges’ exist, similar to PwC, Kasey Panetta, brand content manager at Gartner, also focused on the potential in industries such as music distribution, identity verification and title registry in a company blog post. “They promise a model to add trust to untrusted environments and reduce business friction by providing transparent access to the information in the chain,” Panetta wrote.

Referring to all the technologies in the top 10, including VR, AR, and machine learning, Panetta added: “These technologies are just beginning to break out of an emerging sate and stand to have substantial disruptive potential across industries.”

You can read the full PwC report here (pdf).