Over the next several years, blockchain could soon turn into big bucks for software vendors that can capitalize on the technology, according to a forecast from Tractica.
The market research firm expects the worldwide market for enterprise blockchain applications to reach $19.9 billion by 2015 from $2.5 billion this year. North America will primarily drive demand during the forecast period, followed by Europe.
Best known for its Bitcoin implementation, the distributed ledger technology is highly resistant to tampering and can potentially streamline many of today's complex financial, trading and recordkeeping platforms by eliminating intermediaries.
But, it may take a while for the technology to hit the mainstream, cautioned Tractica principal analyst, Jessica Groopman.
She observed that "while the blockchain market has generated massive interest and investment from just about every type of institution, the reality today is that enterprise blockchain applications are extremely nascent with very few deployments in production outside of Bitcoin," she observed in a blog post. "Whether deciding to jump on the bandwagon, or write it off as hype, businesses are well advised to first understand what blockchain is (and is not), as well as how blockchain technologies could support their core objectives and long-term strategies."
This past summer, Gartner vice president David Furlonger advised technology executives to keep an eye on blockchain, but not go overboard. Although the technology is progressing rapidly, standards are a bit of a moving target, a risky state of affairs for businesses that make early bets on the future of blockchain in the enterprise.
Regardless, it can't hurt to dip one's toes into the waters, Furlonger added. High-tech companies may learn a thing or two by conducting a small-scale trial, provided they are prepared for failure at this early stage.
Meanwhile, blockchain has attracted intense interest from the investment community and some major corporations. Venture capitalists have poured more than $1 billion into blockchain startups, Tractica noted.
In October, IBM announced that the company was investing $200 million in its Watson IoT Center located in Munich, Germany, where the company plans to connect the AI-infused platform to blockchain, enabling businesses to securely share Internet of Things (IoT) data securely and efficiently.
Credit card giant Visa also recently announced that it was teaming with Chain, a San Francisco-based blockchain startup, to create a system for secure international business-to-business payments. A pilot of the platform, dubbed Visa B2B Connect, is scheduled for 2017.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.