IT decision makers regard IBM as the clear leader in blockchain, according to a new survey by Juniper Research.
Juniper's Blockchain Enterprise Survey found that 43% ranked IBM as having the strongest credentials with the distributed ledger technology. Microsoft was ranked second, while Accenture was third.
The survey questioned almost 400 company founders, executives, managers and IT leaders from organisations that are already using or actively considering blockchain deployments.
According to the study, this reflected IBM's high-profile R&D engagement with initiatives such as Hyperledger and its extensive list of blockchain clients across an array of key verticals and use cases, including banking, asset tracking and the music industry.
Amongst respondents who were prepared to state their levels of investment in blockchain, more than two-thirds (67%) stated they had already invested more than $100,000 by the end of 2016, while 91% of these companies confirmed that they would be spending at least this amount in 2017. The study stated that this suggested most initial investments had delivered results that were sufficiently encouraging for companies to pursue more extensive trials and/or integrations.
The UK-based research company also noted that most companies
should focus on exploring private blockchains for commercial deployments,
rather than utilise public chains such as Bitcoin. Juniper Research said that most
corporate applications would require the capability to restrict access to
permissioned users, while companies would also need to have a degree of control
over the development of the blockchain on which their systems have become
According to research author Dr Windsor Holden: "Even if companies conduct initial testing using a public blockchain, in most cases the shortcomings of these chains should disqualify them from many use cases, including financial settlement, public sector deployments, logistics and land registry."
The company has also released a whitepaper, ‘Which Industries are the best fit for blockchain?'
The blockchain segment is increasingly mature, Juniper said, as evidenced by the proliferation of tier one technology vendors and the ‘big four' consultancy companies launching their own blockchain offerings, the emergence of blockchain industry consortia, and growing awareness of the technology. A survey conducted by Infosys of more than 100 financial services professionals found that more than 80% expect to see the commercial adoption of the technology by 2020.
Blockchain is also gaining traction, with the Juniper survey showing that among companies of over 20,000 employees, more than half (54%) had reached Proof of Concept stage with blockchain, with a further 16% involved in trial deployments.
Among the companies that are in PoC, 66% expect blockchain to be integrated into their systems by the end of 2018, with smaller companies expecting to have integration ahead of larger companies.
Among the barriers to blockchain are a lack of developers and the risk of disruption to internal systems and to external systems with customers.
Organisations that are considering blockchain deployments should also be aware that blockchain has benefits for specific problems and specific verticals, which make it better suited to some uses than others. Juniper suggested that the current best use scenarios for blockchain are in healthcare, digital fiat currency (government issued digital currency), financial settlement, land registry and insurance.
"Blockchain technology is not a panacea for all ills. In many cases the problems which businesses are hoping to solve may be organisational: they could be resolved at lower cost by implementing structural, rather than technological, changes," the report said.
"Industries and use cases which will stand to benefit most from blockchain technology typically feature some, or all, of the following characteristics: a need for transparency and clarity in (trans)actions; a current dependence on paper-based legacy storage systems; and a high volume of transmitted information."