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Beyond the technology: Blockchain network design


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It takes more than a strong product to realize success with blockchain. That’s why our strategy focuses on building scalable business networks, underpinned by great technology. In fact, our integrated capabilities across business and technology earned IBM the honor of #1 blockchain services provider in the world the last three years in a row. We’ve helped dozens of clients launch successful and growing business networks, while learning quickly the critical considerations for success that stretch well beyond technology. Indeed, the hardest part about building business networks is the business part.

As a design leader, I frequently hear varying perspectives on the role design might play in building blockchain networks. Design means a lot of different things to different people. We consider design to be the “purpose, planning, or intention that exists behind an action, fact, or material object.” Said another way, design is the intent behind an outcome.

Learn why IBM is the top-ranked blockchain for business services provider

Designing business networks

So, what does it mean to be intentional about success in blockchain? What does it mean to design business networks? It means we start with our outcome in mind: to enable business transformation at the level of a market, industry or ecosystem. In doing so for hundreds of clients, we’ve learned that the most successful business networks address three design workstreams: governance, business value and technology.

Governance design means that our ecosystems are co-developing operational models that are aligned to member benefits and user outcomes that are fair, democratic, transparent and evolving. Business value design enables blockchain-powered networks to create commercial models that consider not only monetization strategies, but also incentives, stimulating collaboration among members and accelerating network effects. In technology design, our clients are developing the next generation of human-centered experiences, driving adoption of new products and services with privacy, security, and most importantly, trust.

Getting past proof-of-concept

As is likely evident from the industrywide number of projects that never make it past the proof-of-concept (POC) or minimum viable product (MVP) phases, getting to scale with blockchain can seem daunting. We partner with clients through four key phases of the blockchain journey.

(1) EXPLORE: Decide whether to build new network, or join, extend or merge with existing network (2) ENVISION: Confirm business case, ecosystem interest and technological approach (3) ESTABLISH: Define commercial and operational models supported by integrated technology platform (4) EVOLVE: Produce revenue or savings, grow network and enhance technology platform

Actions taken and decisions made across governance design, business value design, and technology design vary based on clients’ maturity across the network journey, starting with alignment around opportunity and network intent and culminating with strategic initiatives for growth that may push an ecosystem to embark on the network journey for a second or third time to realize value in new areas. Indeed, “leaving the door open” for opportunities that are hard for us to imagine today is a crucial component of the governing principles by which many of our clients are choosing to structure their business networks.

Taking the next step

Our experience growing blockchain networks across a wide range of industries, geographies, and regulatory environments has allowed us to identify both the common patterns and the nuances required for bringing enterprise business networks to scale.

Accelerated by our operational and commercial frameworks in addition to our technology assets, our clients are moving faster and more competitively than anyone else in the market.

Won’t you join us? Let’s see what we can solve together.

Download the roadmap for your blockchain journey

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