Richard Gendal Brown is the CTO at R3. After years of discussion and planning, enterprise blockchain is now becoming a reality across industries as diverse as insurance, healthcare, gold, oil and gas, finance and more.

But it’s worth taking a step back and reflecting on the reasons why. Most businesses are centralized, with the standard corporate structure of a CEO, a board of directors and all the departments necessary in order to run effectively; yet most markets are decentralized, with no central body in charge.

As a result, these two inextricably linked entities function in entirely opposite ways. When the IT revolution began many decades ago, it was natural for companies and other centralized organizations to be early adopters of the technology: there was a competitive advantage to be gained by optimizing a firm’s operations, and a command-and-control mechanism was required to get the technology adopted and working practices changed.

As a result, it’s no surprise that if we now look back on the achievements of the IT industry over recent decades we see that technology platforms have mostly been deployed within firms and have mostly been used to optimize those firms alone. However, when you raise your attention to the level of industries and markets, you see an entirely different scenario.

It’s really quite remarkable how little has changed in so many markets. International trade today would be easily understandable by a merchant from three hundred years ago. Read more from…

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