Blockchain is so 2017!

Stimulated by yet another news article about blockchain and distributed ledgers, I took a look at google trends to see how “blockchain”, and “bitcoin” have been doing in terms of search ranking.

A long time ago, I attended a number of conferences on “XML”. It was, at the time the technology that was set to change the world at the peak of the technology hype cycle and inflated expectations.. Arguments aside as to whether a mark-up language is a technology, interest in it has subsided as it has become embedded in applications, commonly applied and moved into it’s plateau of productivity.

Technology Hype Cycle

Google trends allows you assess search levels against a word or phrase and therefore the level of interest in an area. If people are searching for it there’s an interest, if they are not they’re not!

The worldwide trend for search on “XML” gives this plot. The level of interest declining continuously since late 2014 – that’s the earliest google will provide data on. Inevitably, you don’t see “XML” as a lead feature in any product brochure – “Now with new XML”.

Google Trends – XML

So how’s blockchain and bitcoin performing.

The plot below shows the level of worldwide searchon “blockchain”, a two key peaks in December 2017 and also February 2021.

Google Trends – blockchain

So, how do I read this?

It’s good news for blockchain as a technology set. The hype-cycle in 2017 created a peak of inflated expectations, we’ve got through the trough of disillusionment, and reached the slope of enlightenment and are now moving into the plateau of productivity. Like many technologies before it, blockchain has survived and is now here to stay.

Time to stop talking and start doing. We’ll see the “now with new extra blockchain” in product literature for a few more years, but then blissful quiet will follow. The technology will become invisibly embedded, and no one will talk about it, just yet another enabler – the real story focussed back on the applications and the real benefits that they can bring.

But what about bitcoin, well the plot is similar, December 2017 peak and some stochato behaviour between February to May this year. But then given the level of celebrity interest, I think everyone is well aware that the hype cycle ended a long time ago!

Google Trends – bitcoin

How to test a business idea

I’ve been talking recently with a company about the definition and creation of a new product. It didn’t take long for the standard questions to arise: Who are we building for? What value will we bring? How are we unique compared to others in the market? Do the revenues justify the investment?

Sometimes people know exactly what they want to do and where they need to go, other times we are all following a hunch and need clarity on direction. Irrespective of the entry point, time to look at the toolbox and pull out the Business Model Canvas as a successful tool to structure the thought processes and discussion.

The Business Model Canvas 

The canvas is taken from Business Model Generation, one of the Strategyzer series of books. These books are an incredibly useful resource to help provide direction in business and personal thinking. They are easy to read and not expensive. Just buy them! The cost of getting something wrong will always be significantly greater than the investment in something that will move you towards your goal.

The Business Model Canvas is a tool to guide you through the steps required to define the properties of a new product, service, or business. It is not perfect (the boxes are rarely the right size and certainly in the wrong order for me!), but it makes you think and as with any tool of this type is a significantly better starting point than a blank sheet of paper!

You can download a template from the Strategyzer website. If you want to work interactively with a team and complete it online mural also have a template on their site. In certain circumstances, it can be worthwhile creating a tailored version of the canvas. I’ve adapted it twice, once to simplify and focus the content for a large product portfolio review by a group of product managers, and once when considering platform business models. I’ve also applied the canvas to the definition of internally focused products, without an external customer.

You can build the canvas in an order you like. My tip when starting is to focus on the customer first (Customer Segments), then your Value Proposition and then how you think you’ll actually make money (Revenue Streams).