Blockchains are complicated. To succeed, they need to provide a better UX. Source: Shutterstock

Blockchains are complicated. To succeed, they need to provide a better UX. Source: Shutterstock

Blockchain success needs humanists, artists and creative thinkers

BLOCKCHAINS are becoming more accessible, or at least, businesses would like us to think so.

A majority of top-tier organizations from a variety of industries such as logistics, banking and finance, and even agriculture are all working on proofs of concept for blockchain use cases. The technology is expected to drive transparency, accountability, and trust in modern markets.

However, numerous experts and analysts believe that smaller businesses are still struggling to jump onto the blockchain bandwagon.

Blockchain: The Next Everything Author Stephen P. Williams spoke to Tech Wire Asia recently to explain why that is and how blockchain could become a more standard solution in businesses in the future.

“One of the biggest adoption challenges is the lack of good user experience design. Without ease of use, it will be hard to get the general public to explore blockchain. And right now, most applications for using blockchain are counterintuitive, designed by and built for engineers.”

The solution, therefore, according to Williams, is to employ “humanists, artists, and creative thinkers to participate in the user experience”.

Right now, Williams points out that, most applications require a person to create a digital “wallet” to hold their coins or non-fungible tokens (assets). This can be hard to understand as most of the wallets are designed for people with extensive knowledge.

“I think that human-centered design, where the engineers and others build the product with the consumer’s behavior and needs in mind, is very important with digital products. And I don’t think most blockchain projects take this into account.

“We need all kinds of thinkers involved in the space. For instance, I am not a technologist, but I took on the responsibility of explaining blockchain to a general audience, using my liberal arts education background, and other skills I had.”

Simply put, the reality is that for blockchains to really make a dent, especially outside the realm of large enterprises, is for innovators to make it more accessible and easy to understand.

Can we simplify how we talk about blockchains?

Williams is a specialist, and here’s how he explains blockchains to a wider audience: “Blockchains are immutable ledgers that store records of transactions, intellectual property, ownership and more.

“The records are collected in groups, or “blocks,” are linked together in a “chain” by cryptographic codes. The ledger is stored on all of the participants and devices (called “nodes”) that have joined the chain.

“Public blockchains, such as bitcoin and ethereum, can be joined freely by anyone, and the transactions are visible to everyone (although identities can remain largely private).”

Williams clarifies that governance of the blockchain network is performed by everyone who wants to participate in the (public) chain. Private chains, on the other hand, require permission to join.

Businesses use blockchain to streamline accounting and payment procedures, make more efficient supply chains, and democratize the flow of information. They can also use cryptocurrency and tokens built on a blockchain to incentivize desirable behaviors among customers and employees. The use cases are plenty.

According to Williams as well as other experts Tech Wire Asia has spoken to at IDC, the biggest challenge with the adoption of blockchain is that executives get overwhelmed with the technical requirements of the technology which creates a form of resistance.

As Williams suggests, blockchains will thrive when discussions around the technology are simplified and involve humanists, artists and creative thinkers who help create a better experience for everyone.