On June 15, 2017, global information technology professional association ISACA (formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association) released guidance advocating the use of blockchain technology for business applications. In its recently released tech brief, “Blockchain Basics,” the association labels the technology as a “21st century variant of the transaction ledger,” a tool that has aided society since ancient times and which now plays a key role in record keeping and financial markets. As a result, ISACA believes that, due to its ability to facilitate efficiency and integrity in key industries, blockchain technology will have a large impact on global business systems. Ron Hale, chief researcher at Cooraclare Institute and former Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) at ISACA, believes these features have inspired an increase in demand for the technology throughout the corporate world.
“Of all the emerging technologies we’re currently seeing, blockchain has the potential to have the biggest impact on businesses and society at large,” Hale said. “Enterprises are increasingly looking at how they can adopt this technology and revolutionize how they deliver products and services—in fact, LinkedIn data show job postings requiring blockchain skills have tripled in the past year.”
To support its research, the association relied on data from professional service company Accenture, which found that blockchain technology could reduce costs across multiple segments of business such as central finance reporting (70 percent), central operations (50 percent), and compliance (50 percent).
Despite noting that average investments in blockchain projects in 2017 are projected to cost close to $1 million, the association feels that blockchain technology has risks that business professionals should consider such as scalability, transaction costs, uncorroborated development, vulnerabilities, and access control. As a result, the organization recommends that companies looking to capitalize upon blockchain ask the following five questions before making an investment into the technology:
- How does blockchain compare to the current ledger infrastructure? Do enough potential savings exist to justify the investment?
- Does our organization have the capabilities required to innovate alongside an emerging technology?
- Does joining a blockchain collaborative such as Hyperledger make sense for our organization or should we leverage a commercial implementation?
- How do we manage the cost per transaction when using a particular blockchain? Is this a fixed price or does it vary with volume?
- Does our organization’s industry group have a blockchain established or on the horizon?
In addition to the Blockchain Basics tech brief, which is available for free on its website, the association offers for purchase a detailed research report, Blockchain Fundamentals: An Inside Look at the Technology with the Potential to Impact Everything.