Innovation Retarders

We all love to see ourselves as innovators, always on the cutting edge of developments, technological, social… it does not matter. We want to see us first. Unfortunately, very often it is just the opposite!

Why is this! I hosted two panels last month, one during the Malta AI and Blockchain Summit and the other one during Frankfurt TechWeek. On both panels this question, too, played a role. The main issue was similar, too: how to roll out the blockchain opportunity globally, specifically in finance on the Malta panel, and generally in Frankfurt.

For sure, blockchain innovation got retarded: in 2018 Bitcoins did sky rock and so-called Initial Coin Offerings, ICO, promised to solve all financing problems for ever. We all know there is nothing like easy money and quickly the market was reminded the hard way. The bubble burst faster than any bubble did before! Early this year Bitcoin and blockchain were declared dead by many who had been sceptic before! Of course, they were wrong too!

Blockchain Technology and Cryptos are back, without the hype, or at least much less of it. “Companies are ready to adopt the blockchain”, was one of the conclusions at both panels. In Frankfurt it was stressed that the blockchain itself must be disconnected from currencies because, in many minds, blockchain is a synonymous for bitcoins. We need more awareness that the technology provides the basis for secure and transparent online actions. Therefore, the future blockchain, one way or the other, will be the core of any sensible transaction in the internet.

Of course, this will take time. Predictions are almost impossible. The resentment at work last year will remain active. The pattern always remains the same: On one side you’re having very quick adopters showing the innovation’s potential. Shortly after they proved the model works, besides first serious adopters, those who follow are only seeing the chance for a quick buck creating a huge bubble and failures – killing the initiative and strengthening the opponents. These are mostly those that benefit from the old models and have no interest in too much innovation. Innovators need to struggle to slowly re-establish the model always battling with those that, at last, understand that innovation can’t be stopped and therefore try to implement tight regulation.

Some regulation – or standardization – obviously is necessary to create a level playing field. However too much of it is slowing things down trying to restrict new opportunities within the borders of the old model. This is the basic model that can be applied to all innovation cycles. They are active within the big picture but also in the little steps within it. What we didn’t mention yet are the consumer’s comfort zones that delay market implementation once innovation is ready to market.

That’s the struggle. And don’t think we can do a lot about it. That’s how people work. And maybe we shouldn’t try anyway. Every innovation can be used for either good or bad for mankind. In order to increase the chance for turning out on the good side it needs constant debate. Well, I think what is described above is part of this process!

Dieter Brockmeyer (2nd from left) is Diplomatic World’s Chief Project Officer and co-founder and director Innovation and TIME of the Diplomatic World Institute, here hosting the Blockchain Opportunity panel during TechWeek in Frankfurt this November.