Blockchain not yet living up to hype, according to McKinsey study

15 January 2019 Consulting.us

A new report provides a relatively bleak outlook on the future of blockchain, a technology touted by many as truly disruptive. 

The study by McKinsey & Company, titled "Blockchain’s Occam problem," looks at the practicality of the technology. The study's title refers to Occam’s razor, the principle stating that the simplest solution is most likely to be the best. “On that basis blockchain’s payments use cases may be the wrong answer,” the report states. In its early days, starry-eyed industries had placed blockchain on a pedestal, perhaps a bit infatuated with the possibilities of the technology. Automakers, insurance companies, the public sector, banks – all had big, mostly complex ideas as to how blockchain could revolutionize the ways they operated.  

“There is a clear sense that blockchain is a potential game-changer” the report states. “However, there are also emerging doubts. A particular concern, given the amount of money and spent is that little of substance has been achieved.” 

The study states that blockchain’s best value for 2019 are in niche applications. Companies which are already oriented around modernization, as well as those seeking to prove their ability to innovate might also find use for the technology.  

The cryptocurrency bitcoin is an especially well-defended aspect of blockchain technology. While far from the only use of blockchain, Lebanese writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb, called bitcoin “an insurance policy against an Orwellian future.” And in a December 2018 article in Time magazine, Alex Gladstein wrote, “For people living under authoritarian governments, bitcoin can be a valuable tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.”  

Blockchain maturity

Despite rather vocal support for bitcoin (and cryptocurrency as a whole), McKinsey & Company has charted blockchain’s life-cycle stage by market size. The outlook isn’t extraordinary. The chart shows that blockchain teeters on the precipice of the “pioneering” stage, in which prototype technology is introduced to early adopters. Upon entering the next stage (“growth”) blockchain should start to see success and the beginnings of widespread adoption. While some argue that blockchain has indeed entered the “growth” stage, its obvious success his has not yet occurred. 

“At today’s tipping point, many prototypes have been built, but blockchain technology has not yet seen widespread application at scale, and the future remains uncertain,” the report states.  

A lack of faith in blockchain, however, isn’t altogether stopping the technology in its tracks, with large-scale international moves and partnerships consistently making headlines. Management and technology consultancy firm CGI, for example, recently announced a collaboration with the National Bank of Canada and Skuchain regarding a blockchain-based method of managing the often complex, agreements used by banks to secure financial transactions, which are currently conducted by email. 

The Inter-American Development Bank will also be focusing efforts on promoting blockchain in Latin America and the Caribbean. Further, KoreConX, a blockchain-based business management platform, announced in December a partnership with Middle East SME advisors Metis Management Company. 

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Tech Mahindra partners with University of Nebraska Omaha to build IT skills

10 April 2019 Consulting.us

Technology consultancy Tech Mahindra has partnered with the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Information Science and Technology (IS&T). As part of the memorandum of understanding, Tech Mahindra will collaborate with UNO on IT knowledge sharing, hiring, and industry-faculty collaboration.

Some of the key initiatives will include partnerships on student projects and internships, recruitment, industry visits, and seminars. India-based Tech Mahindra will leverage the resources of its 121,000-person footprint to help arm UNO students and faculty with the latest and most in-demand digital skills and capabilities, including data analytics, artificial intelligence, and cyber security.

The firm, which delivers technology consulting and outsourcing services across the globe, will share its expertise with students through regular speaker events, webinars, workshops, and hackathons, while collaborating with students and faculty on whitepapers and research projects.

“Our partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha presents an opportunity to bring together the best of both worlds in the region – UNO’s academic excellence and Tech Mahinda’s real-world technology expertise,” Sandeep Khajuria, senior vice president, Tech Mahindra, said. “We are excited to work with the students and faculty not only to help support their research projects, but also to train them in practical, cutting-edge digital skills in order to help create a future-ready technology workforce.”

Tech Mahindra partners with University of Nebraska Omaha to build IT skills

Tech Mahindra entered the US market in 1993, and has been supporting clients in Omaha for the past two decades. The tech consultancy already has a development center in the region, and the academic partnership further strengthens its focus and investment in the region.

Many western economies are dealing with a perceived shortage of STEM talent, especially in the fields of AI and analytics and other emerging technologies. On the one hand, that’s an understandable outcome, considering that AI wasn’t viewed as a commercially viable technology until the last decade; the education system simply can’t adapt that quickly. But clearly, policy imperatives and industry endeavors are pushing the realignment of skilling objectives. A smaller pool of tech talent, after all, means not only the “stunting of innovation,” but also higher wages for the IT rank-and-file.

Not Tech Mahindra’s first rodeo

In June 2018, the consultancy partnered with the University of Texas to launch its first Makers Lab research and development center in the United States. The collaborative R&D center allows Tech Mahindra professionals and UT students to work on emerging technology – leveraging customer-centric innovations together.

The partnership includes the sponsoring of research projects by the consulting firm, while also offering internship opportunities for about two dozen students at the Makers Lab.

“The mission of the Makers Lab is to be a conduit between academia, research and businesses to provide solutions to its customers and provide a space for these partners to tinker with disruptive technology that we feel will make the enterprise of the future,” Nikhil Malhotra, head of Makers Lab at Tech Mahindra, said.

The Plano, Texas, R&D lab is one of seven total Makers Labs worldwide, spanning across India, the UK, and Germany. The labs have developed innovative technologies such as an AI-powered conversation platform and a retail-focused augmented reality application.