There are countless blockchains in 2018, each with their own defining characteristics. For example, some blockchains are permissioned, others are completely public, and yet others are consortium (public-private hybrids). Some are proof of work while others use proof of stake. When we dig even deeper, we find a surprising diversity among blockchains when looking at a spectrum of different features such as anonymity, privacy, openness, control, throughput, speed of transactions, and block confirmation times. There are even differences among blockchains in the way they execute smart contracts.
How Should Manufacturers Evaluate Blockchains?
With all these blockchains and their differing use cases, it can be difficult to compare one blockchain to another. On what criteria should manufacturers base their selection? Should a manufacturer—or any other business—even put all their eggs on one blockchain? What if they make their choice, and then a better platform comes along shortly thereafter? Switching to a different platform often involves rewriting code, internal restructuring, and budget overruns that inevitably puts a company behind its competitors.
When facing too many choices, can a manufacturer not choose a particular blockchain to ensure they retain the flexibility to work with different blockchains? In a fast moving and rapidly changing industry like manufacturing, being blockchain “agnostic” may turn out to be a smart move. Blockchain agnosticism has a plethora of benefits such as:
- Adaptability to change
- Reduced risk
Manufacturers may work with different blockchains as long as they choose wisely. The blockchains or platforms they choose to work with should allow them to maintain competitive advantage by reaping the aforementioned benefits. Companies would be better off using a blockchain in a way that does not “lock” them into it, thus maintaining their flexibility to switch to a different blockchain anytime and on an as-needed basis.
Being Blockchain Agnostic Future-Proofs Current Investments
To reduce risk, manufacturers can future-proof their investments by choosing to be blockchain agnostic. They can build decentralized apps and execute smart contracts on a platform that allows them to interact with any blockchain. It is good business sense to have the flexibility to quickly build decentralized applications that have the capabilities to interact with blockchains other than the one they were natively developed on. Being blockchain agnostic helps manufacturers deliver to market faster than competitors who aren’t. They will also quickly adapt to rapidly changing business and technological conditions without having to rewrite their apps in a different language.
As an example of being blockchain agnostic, a manufacturing order may be implemented as an Ethereum smart contract, but other blockchains such as EOS and IOTA would also be used for transactions during the production phase of that manufacturing order. In the future, being able to execute multiple smart contracts and run multiple transactions on multiple platforms may require companies to become blockchain agnostic.