Report | 19 July 2019

Blockchain and The Chief Strategy Officer

This research details how blockchain technology supports strategy design and delivery in innovative enterprises.

This research takes on the challenge of describing how blockchain technology supports the CSO in innovative enterprises. It lays out the key challenges facing corporations especially around the areas of trust, describing how blockchain proves to be a useful tool to address deficiencies. It illuminates key concepts such as the shared ledger, smart assets, and smart contracts.

It describes how blockchain supports CSO responsibilities such as maintaining collaborative governance, identifying growth opportunities, monitoring long-term trends, and managing the strategic process. It also outlines how blockchain enables important strategic delivery components including cost improvements, business model innovation, new business incubation, and optimizing capital expenditures.

Idea in brief

  • In times of technological disruption, organizations need members of the C-suite to take action in their domains, preparing their people, processes, and practices for change and then leading the transformation. The chief strategy officer has a special role in coordinating the direction of these efforts: where officers of marketing, finance, operations, and human resources are moving over the hill in front of them, the CSO is looking several hills and valleys ahead.

  • Blockchain technology is such a disruptive innovation, one that hinders enterprise strategies that are centrally controlled, designed, and delivered in favor of those that are coordinated with collaborators, automated wherever possible, and distributed across industries, supply chains, and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.

  • The new distributed building blocks of strategy are shared ledgers, smart contracts, and smart assets—all software, to be coded, plugged, and played across blockchain networks. Used in combination, they instantiate the concept of strategic liquidity, the degree to which an enterprise can exploit strategic options to maneuver fluidly in competitive environments.

  • Enterprise leaders are already using blockchain platforms and distributed applications. In strategy design, they’re leveraging blockchain to identify growth opportunities, monitor long-term trends, and even manage the strategic planning process itself. In strategy delivery, they’re applying blockchain to reduce operational costs, develop new business models, incubate allnew businesses, and reallocate resources more rapidly.

  • Widespread deployment may be a decade away, but those who want to make the leap have much to do between now and then, not to be leapt over. We need more basic and applied research in cryptoeconomics, more education and training, and stronger governance to develop data standards and robust policy. We also need to address such implementation challenges as legacy enterprise information technology (IT) system integration, blockchain interoperability, and network scalability.

  • CSOs have several options to act on, starting with auditing their own enterprise data governance, sharing what their customers and employees already know about and are doing with the technology, and developing enterprise-wide blockchain fluency. They can also think outside the blockchain and look to complementary technologies (i.e., Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality, distributed energy, precision medicine, and mesh networks).