Blockchain won't produce results until at least 2019

A graphic interpretation of blockchain as a chain of code
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Blockchain is still in the "hype stage", and isn't going to start producing real results until 2019 at the earliest, according to auditing and professional services firm KPMG.

Its head of tech growth, Patrick Imbach, believes that new technologies like blockchain always go through a phase of explosive hype and popularity, as investors scramble to back it and companies start rapidly moving into the space.

However, Imbach told IT Pro yesterday that it's generally only once the hype has died down that these technologies actually start generating commercially viable results - and blockchain is not yet at that point.

"It was hype in 2017, it will remain hype. I hear loads of chatter about blockchain, in particular in the UK," he said at MWC in Barcelona. "Whilst everyone acknowledges the potential, I think it's very early stages - we're at the hype stage.

"I'm not sure actually whether some sort of tangible use-cases and commercial models based on blockchain technologies will evolve over the next months. We're still a little bit early in that process, I wouldn't expect any exciting commercial opportunities to arise in large numbers any time soon - in the UK, particularly."

Blockchain's potential for financial services is often touted, but a Gartner study last October found that banking CIOs ranked the technology 20th in a list of business-differentiating technologies they would consider investing in.

However, more mature blockchain technologies could have wider applications for various industries, from financial services to government and security, where identity management could be a key driver.

Artificial intelligence, by contrast, is a much more mature technology, KPMG's Imbach said. While he pointed out that many companies that claim to be leveraging artificial intelligence are actually just using data analytics, he said that the the AI market is poised to start generating some interesting business use-cases over the course of 2018.

"I expect 2018 to be a year when there will be more substance behind it."

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.