UCL School of Management

18 January 2021

How enterprises could restore our confidence in digital society with blockchain

Image of blue digital chains to represent ‘blockchain’. Source Canva.

Speaking to IDG Connect JP Vergne discussed the battle for blockchain and social media which are competing for the heart of the enterprise. He explains how the outcome of this battle will determine what sort of business culture we create for ourselves in the next five years and why he believes blockchain would permit a less hierarchal structure.

Vergne’s paper Decentralized vs. Distributed Organization: Blockchain, Machine Learning, and the Future of the Digital Platform explores the growth of centralised digital platforms and suggests that decentralisation is about the dispersion of information, whereas distribution is about the dispersion of decision-making. 

He suggests that the promise of digital technology to empower people through decentralization has fallen short because digital enterprises practice ‘distributed’ decision-making, but centralised intelligence.

Vergne’s paper suggests that the diffusion of blockchain could change this reality. A genuine blockchain is both decentralized and distributed - as opposed to the ‘distributed ledgers’ used by corporations on top of their managerial hierarchies. 

That means that decision-making rights are available to anyone willing to commit resources – the time, code, and assets – to a given blockchain ecosystem. Blockchain platforms, in this respect, represent an alternative to the centralised platforms operated by such AI behemoths as Google, Facebook and Alibaba.

“Regulating digital platforms without acknowledging the existence of decentralised platforms is like trying to regulate city traffic without acknowledging the existence of bicycles and pedestrians,” says Vergne. Those that take a lead in this will benefit from the next wave of digital innovation. 

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Last updated Friday, 29 January 2021