IoT and blockchain: Are we there yet?

IoT and blockchain: A powerful pairing that doesn't yet live up to its promise.

The internet of things (IoT) and blockchain -- they should go together like strawberries and cream, right? What could make more sense than a constant stream of data about devices, their state, and their use, combined with a distributed and trustworthy mechanism for anyone to read or say things about the data?

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And yet, almost three years after my colleagues Martha Bennett and Dan Bieler first went in search of success stories, they're still proving remarkably hard to find.

Investment continues apace, and there's gushing press coverage of yet another bold pilot or proof of concept (PoC) on an almost daily basis. So what's going wrong? Why aren't more of these pilots making it into production? Martha and I teamed up to search for some answers, and our report has just been published. 

The technology's certainly not perfect, but that doesn't seem to be the main barrier to success. Cultural and organizational issues consistently present a bigger challenge, which is hardly surprising when you consider that these IoT/blockchain combos make most sense when deployed across a fairly broad set of stakeholders. Combine evolving technology with a loose federation of often-competing partners and no central point of control: What could possibly go wrong?

But it's certainly not all doom and gloom. There are (a few) early successes. The hyperscale cloud providers are doing what they're good at: All aim to offer managed blockchains that should make it easier to worry less about the enabling technology and more about finding, building, and maintaining meaningful partnerships that deliver business value. And, most importantly, many of the PoCs, pilots, consortia, federations, and other assorted agglomerations seem to be getting better at this stuff.

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This post was written by Principal Analyst Paul Miller and originally appeared here.