We are happy to have the first blog by Mats Nylund, Principal Lecturer and Head of Project from Arcada (University of Applied Science). Mats is leading a project researching “The Potential of Blockchain”. We asked Mats to share some thoughts about the foresight and market tracking they do in the project.
Arcada kicked of the project ”The Potential of Blockchain” in August 2016. In the project we aim to find out traces of societal effects, possibilities of blockchain technology and to clarify possible future lines of policy. Since blockchain technology is still an ”emerging” technology, and most of the applications are waiting for the realization, our focus is in the future. Even if the blockchain itself isn't weak signal any longer, the project work can still be described as foresight work. (Eg. Gartner Hype Cycle, August 2016 places ‘blockchain’ to be 5-10 years of being of mainstream adaptation.)
Our team consists currently of 5 experts with different academic backgrounds; common interests was the key that brought everyone together. From the start, we decided to focus on blockchain in general and ruled ie. logic of cryptocurrencies out of the scope.
One of the first tasks after that was to start increasing the knowledge of the project team. We started to gather information about blockchain technology from main sources using FIBRES™ software. Some of the team members had already collected the material from the early months of 2016, so this was a good starting point. Since the beginning, we have stored more than 600 observations from numerous sources. Most of the observations are classified in the software by theme and industry, which in turn makes the initial searching and further analyzing more efficient. The software serves also as a place to discuss and share our comments and finally build the collective insight. To have a designated place makes the information sharing easier, especially because the team members are working from different locations.
Collected, publicly available, media data has been main source of knowledge in the project. This is partly because there currently are only few scientific articles about blockchain and even less policy related blockchain papers published since 2013-2014, when blockchain began to grow out of its bitcoin roots. However, media data and observations are not the only gathered information. Research setting in the project is complex and one goal has been to find people with diverse background, who have understanding and knowledge of blockchain technology in Finland. Luckily, we have picked up several experts, most of them by reading news in Finnish media and by using social media.
Due to generous supply of media, especially in UK and US, we became familiar with discourse of the revolutionary role of the blockchain technology in the upcoming years. Our task is now to analyze and anticipate potential paths for blockchain's development. Even though the blockchain discourse promises healthy and wealthy times for the whole world, real-life applications are still missing, the actual breakthrough of blockchain will take couple of years (as eg. Gartner predicts). In this process we need continuous monitoring of media and other sources to pick relevant and up-to-date information.