Earlier this month, I attended a private event in Zurich regarding Blockchain, hosted by the Global CIO Research Board (part of Gartner).

The Global CIO Research Board is protected under NDA, therefore I can not share any details regarding the event itself.

However, as an active participant, I was asked to present my thoughts as part of Gartner’s Digital Accelerator podcast series (only available to Gartner customers).

I have outlined below a few snippets from the podcast, where I shared my personal opinions.

Please introduce yourself?

Eli Lilly & Company is a pharmaceutical company, based out of Indianapolis, with around 40,000 employees globally. Like a lot of industries, we’re going through our share of transformation.

My role in Lilly is two-fold, I am part of our Enterprise IT Architecture community, personally accountable for Technology Architecture. As well as the lead architect for Cirrus (a cloud reference), which is focused on enterprise emerging technologies.

Can you share one key learning and an action you plan to take?

The key was recognising that although Blockchain has been in existence for many years, obviously born out of the cryptocurrency world, the enterprise applicability of blockchain is still emerging and in its infancy.

There is a lot of hype, everyone has heard about blockchain, some better educated than others, but I think there is still a lot of confusion around the technology and where it is best positioned to add the most value. For example, I have reviewed a wide range of different blockchain use cases, which in reality, would be better positioned for a traditional distributed database or a hash tree. I believe this confusion is caused by a lack of foundational understanding.

As a result, we need to do a better job of educating, specifically with IT professionals and business partners, so they can see through the marketing hype and can effectively challenge each other and vendors (who will be looking to capitalise on the market infancy).

At Lilly, we are not going to “blockchain all the things”, instead we plan to focus on education, covering corporate strategy and via our architecture community. We also plan to connect with enterprise and domain-specific consortiums, as the true value of blockchain can only be realised when supporting a multi-party process.

Did you value the vendor engagement?

It was useful to establish a strong baseline from the experts in the field, specifically in Zurich, with its focus on cryptocurrency.

Although it is always good to hear from the tier one players like IBM, personally, I enjoyed engaging with the startup community. As with any new eco-system, I expect higher order systems and new business models to emerge, where companies consider blockchain the commodity layer and start to build solutions and services that on top that target specific verticals and/or use cases.

However, it is also important to be skeptical when engaging with startups, as many companies will aim to move quickly, taking advantage of the hype and confusion. In the majority of cases, the company will go nowhere (looking to cash out early), but similar to Veeva within the Salesforce.com eco-system, some companies will thrive, opening up new opportunities for their target customers.

As a result, I will be watching the eco-system very closely as it matures over the next few years.

Unfortunately I can not share any additional details about the event or the podcast, however, if you are a Gartner customer, you should be able to gain access to additional materials.