Deloitte: US executives see compelling business case for blockchain

31 May 2018 4 min. read

A new survey from Deloitte found that three in four executives see a compelling business case for blockchain technology. Almost half consider blockchain a top strategic priority. Demand for expertise is also reflected in the senior leadership at major consultancies, including Deloitte, which have dramatically expanded the scope of their blockchain investments.

Big Four professional services firm Deloitte conducted a survey of more than 1,000 senior executives at leading corporations in seven developed economies. What they found was a shift from “blockchain tourism” to serious efforts to develop practical business applications for the emerging technology.

Almost three quarters (74%) of the leaders interviewed said their organizations see a “compelling business case” for adopting blockchain technology. This enthusiasm is being translated into action. Just over a third (34%) said their organizations are already using blockchain in some capacity, while 41% said they expect their teams to harness the technology within a year.

"We are at an inflection point — momentum is shifting from a focus on 'blockchain tourism' and exploring the technology's potential to building practical business applications," said Linda Pawczuk, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the head of Deloitte's U.S. financial services blockchain group. 

"I regard these blockchain-savvy executives' views as a leading indicator. As more organizations put their resources behind this emerging technology, we expect blockchain to gain significant traction as its potential for greater efficiency, support for new business models and revenue sources, and enhanced security are demonstrated in real-world situations."

Deloitte: US executives see compelling business case for blockchain

Those who see the business case are prepared to invest heavily. Four in ten respondents said their organization would invest $5 million or more in the next 12 months. A slightly larger proportion (43%) said that they considered adoption of blockchain technology among their top five strategic priorities. The most enthusiastic response was seen from the 84% of respondents who believe blockchain is destined for mainstream adoption.

With six in ten executives acknowledging blockchain’s potential to disrupt and transform their industry, many are looking for collective solutions to broaden their knowledge and future-proof their organizations. Nearly 30% have already joined a blockchain consortium (including Deloitte itself which recently joined Ethereum Alliance and Hyperledger) while 45% say their organizations are likely to join one soon.

Asked about how they plan to use blockchain technology, 53% of executives mentioned its potential to optimize supply chains, 51% referred to the Internet of Things (Iot) and related integration projects, while 40% discussed digital record keeping. Other popular uses included payment applications and cryptocurrency development.

One in five (22%) respondents, however, still maintain that they don’t see the advantages of blockchain for their business. This figure rises to 30% among US executives, who are also more likely than average to believe that blockchain is “overhyped” – a view shared by 44%. 

"While this may seem like blockchain is trending in the wrong direction, we believe this change in attitude is more reflective of the shift toward the pragmatists in the blockchain community," said Pawczuk.

"We're still early in blockchain's development, so fits and starts in its maturation are not surprising." said Joe Guastella, global leader of Deloitte's financial services consulting team. "In financial services, the technology has already inspired the industry to re-examine processes and functions that have been static for decades. We are broadly seeing applications in production – as well as developing them ourselves for clients – and we believe this momentum will continue."

Consulting firms are themselves investing heavily in blockchain, for both its practical business applications and to get ahead of growing client demand. Deloitte, Infosys, and Marsh are all part of the growing Ethereum Alliance – which is on a mission to establish a robust regulatory platform for blockchain technology. EY is working with Towers Watson on a maritime supply chain blockchain solution, while KPMG recently announced it would accept cryptocurrency as payment for its advisory services.