Blockchain in a Slump? One Expert Disagrees

Blockchain in a Slump? One Expert Disagrees


A recent analysis by Gartner claims blockchain technology has slid into the Trough of Disillusionment and is not expected to recover until 2021.  The Trough of Disillusionment according to Gartner highlights technologies and markets where interest has waned as experiments and implementations fail to deliver (see Figure 1).

blockchain hypecycle oct


We asked Quentin Samelson, Sr. Managing Consultant, Global Business Services at IBM, who is deeply involved in use cases for IBM’s blockchain group to comment on the announcement:


I read the Gartner article.  I guess it shows that it’s often possible to find evidence that fits a particular model; and when a technology is still in its early days, it isn’t hard to find examples where that technology was mis-applied or didn’t generate results that were hoped for. But to say that the technology overall is “sliding into the trough of disillusionment” would require completely ignoring the massive growth that many industries have seen in the use of blockchain-based applications over the last year.

The statistics on blockchain that I’ve seen would certainly appear to argue against the idea that blockchain is in any sort of trough at all — these are all public facts:
For instance, the Food Trust Ecosystem is a global, diverse, and extensive member network with over 100 members and:
  • Millions of transactions, representing thousands of different products on store shelves
  • Over 500,000 food traces conducted to date
  • 4 of the top 10 Food Retailers in US (and several prominent non-US Food Retailers as well)  on platform
The Tradelens global shipping platform has well over 100 ecosystem members  (think shippers, consignees, ports, terminals, carriers, intermodals, authorities, fss, etc.) today , with more committed to join. Tradelens is  processing over 10M events per wk on its platform (these are primarily composed of logistics milestones across approximately 120 different shipment event types). Tradelens is handling more than 100k document transactions per wk – nearly 6M annually. With the most recent announcements from several of the larger ocean carrier partners, Tradelens now has over  60% of annual global ocean container shipments committed to join the platform.
And as of earlier this year, at any given time the IBM Blockchain platform was managing over 1200  blockchain networks around the world. Over 100 of those networks are live consortia networks (up 1000% from last year).
Of course, it’s always critical with any technology — and particularly any new technology — to find the right use cases (the best / most appropriate areas to apply the technology). We’ve even talked some clients out of using blockchain where an older technology could do the job just as well. On the other hand, we’ve also had to modify some of our initial assumptions about where blockchain would be most appropriate. (For instance, some very large companies that operate under dozens of different legal entities and business units have applied blockchain inside their companies, to facilitate and regular  transactions between different locations and organizations.) Overall,  this doesn’t seem like we are in, or anywhere near, the trough of disillusionment!