Dug Campbell

ScotChain 2018

I’m just back in from ScotChain 2018. The annual blockchain conference in Scotland once again saw a varied lineup, predominantly (but not exclusively) focused on the enterprise and business applications of blockchain technology.

It’s coming up to five years since that first meetup in Scotland. That was a pivotal night for me for a whole number of reasons (including the fact that I was introduced that night to the project that I now spend all of my working hours on – the SAFE Network). But being honest, all those years ago, I’m not sure I ever envisaged the main RBS Conference Centre at Gogarburn as being one of the future meetup venues for 200-odd folk…

I really spend very little time indeed around the permissioned/enterprise blockchain sector now – but the fact that it is in itself a sector only serves to underline the difference between then and now.

Chatting with folk during the day, there was a definite sense that the atmosphere had evolved from the exuberance of last year’s event. Much of the focus at the event may have been on business use cases – ERP, BPR, CRM’s, BAAS, the role of CIO’s and a whole plethora of other three-letter acronyms – but I’d hazard a guess that the more measured approach comes from a combination of two things. First, the reality that shipping software, particularly in large organisations, is hard. And its not helped by the fact that each passing day only serves to remind the Exec of how little progress you’ve made with that budget they agreed to give you to do ‘some of that cool blockchainifying stuff‘ in 2017 towards that utopian business offering for customers by 2018…

And secondly, the bearish crypto market all year. Because as much as some might try to hide it, even those who view permissionless systems as marginally less appealing than a rollercoaster with broken seatbelts, the price across the market does matter. The value of crypto-currencies/assets focuses enthusiasm in a way that we’ve rarely seen before.

But anyway, back to the day. The general message was positive: collaborate, don’t shut up shop. I’m hopeful but realistic about what can happen in practice mind you when it comes the flexibility that some businesses will have towards co-creation, rather than empire building. But it was good to see the event once more in Scotland. I certainly gain a lot from just having those face-to-face conversations rather than online so well done to those who took on the mostly thankless task of organising and bringing the community together.