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“Blockchain: The Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review” – a HBR Book Review

a book review

Blockchain – everybody heard about it, half of my acquaintances traded it. Most of them actually traded Bitcoin – and most likely without grasping 100% its features. Unfortunately, this is our new modern reality – we do not really have the time to study hundreds  of pages tomes before we do an informed trade.

This is where the new book series from Harvard Business Review comes ✋ly in. Launched in 2019, the “Insights” series aims to deliver the essential knowledge around topical subjects – all in a condensed manner. As this is my first review of the “Insights” series, I am trying to see if the “Insights” are delivering the above mentioned promise.
The editors of Harvard Business Review press state (somehow boldly) that these Insights series themes will transform both the worlds of business and society. One can argue about the scope here, but not about the statement. It is clear that the blockchain is here to stay – and to change irreversibly the way we do transactions.

The introduction starts with an interesting yet less acknowledged reality – whilst data sharing and digital communications have literally jumped decades, the data security and the storage integrity did not keep pace. This gap was not going unnoticed. And whilst the large actors were (and remain) somehow content to assume the guardian role, the society at large realized that there must be an alternative. The goal of this alternative would be to validate the data without giving over-proportionate control to any party. And so the modern, still puzzling idea of the blockchain was born.

The Blockchain Insights book is structured in three main sections:

1. Understanding blockchain
Whilst blockchain’s functioning mechanism is largely understood by the public, its principles and governance are less popular. Despite this, governance is actually essential to any cryptocurrency – without principles, nobody is willing to invest any voluntary time in promoting a technology that will ultimately benefit only a few actors.

2. Blockchain and business
Whilst theoretically the blockchain applications are countless, in practice only a few will eventually emerge and solidify. It is thus essential for the business leadrrs to understand what are the potential critical applications that will enter the mainstream in the near future. Among others, the Harvard Business Review Press title seems to be fixated on how the financial services sector will be transformed – and the battle is indeed ongoing!

3. The future of blockchain
The reader might ponder why the book bothers with the future of a futuristic technology, if I am allowed. Spot on. The business applications not blockchain are at the beginning and the end of this technology. The governance and the belief in a decentralized future lie at the core of blockchain. Societal applications are by far more difficult to create, implement and operate. There is also a substantial resistance to these – so how can blockchain circle around all these concerns?

All in all, Harvard Business Review Press series starts at full speed with this blockchain analysis. This is why I invite you to take a look – and share with us your thoughts.

Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Title: Blockchain: The Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review

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