Many organizations are now actively considering blockchain deployments, and a significant proportion are already anticipating integration of blockchain into their IT systems within the next 18 months, according the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research.
The Juniper survey found that among the largest companies (those with 20,000 of more employees) that were considering deploying or were in the process of deploying blockchain, 54 percent had reached the PoC (Proof of Concept) stage, with a further 16 percent involved in trial deployments.
Among all companies that have reached the PoC stage, 66 percent expected blockchain to be integrated into their systems by the end of 2018. Integration was expected to take longer as companies got larger among the smaller companies surveyed (i.e. those with less than 1,000 employees), 81 percent expecting integration to be completed by the end of 2018 -- compared with 57 percent of companies with over 20,000 employees.
IBM Leads Blockchain Market Development
That being said, IBM is regarded by survey respondents as having the most proven credentials within the emerging blockchain sector, well ahead of all competitors. That's based upon almost 400 company founders, senior executives, managers and IT leaders that responded to Juniper's survey.
Among enterprises either actively considering, or in the process of deploying blockchain technology, 43 percent of the survey respondents ranked IBM first -- that's more than twice the proportion selecting second-placed Microsoft (20 percent).
According to the study, this reflected IBM’s high-profile R&D engagement with initiatives such as the Hyperledger project, and its extensive list of blockchain clients across an array of key verticals and use cases -- including banking, asset tracking and the music industry.
Among respondents who were prepared to state their levels of investment in blockchain, 67 percent stated they had already invested more than $100,000 by the end of 2016, while 91 percent of these companies confirmed that they would be spending at least this amount in 2017.
The study findings stated that this suggested most initial investments had delivered results that were sufficiently encouraging for companies to pursue more extensive trials and/or integrations.
Outlook for Blockchain Application Growth
When challenges are measured against the scale of the upside market opportunity, Automotive, Financial Settlement and Land Registry emerge as particularly interesting growth prospects.
However, Juniper analysts urge interested companies and other organizations to focus on private blockchains for commercial deployments, rather than attempt to utilize public chains -- such as Bitcoin.
It also argued that most corporate applications would require the capability to restrict access to permissioned users, while companies would also need to have a degree of control over the development of the blockchain on which their systems have become dependent.
"Even if companies conduct initial testing using a public blockchain, in most cases the shortcomings of these chains should disqualify them from many use cases," said Dr Windsor Holden, head of forecasting & consultancy at Juniper Research.