With government resources around the world straining as many economies remain mired in slow growth, government officials are increasingly turning their attention to new technological solutions. A new study from IBM has attempted to gauge those officials' interest in blockchain technology, and their current plans to leverage it at an organizational level.
That study, Building Trust in Governments, was conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), with the support of the Economist Intelligence Unit. It involved surveys of 200 officials from 16 countries around the globe, and asked respondents about their “experiences and expectations with blockchains.” The survey results reveal a high level of interest in the technology, including a desire to use it to achieve increased efficiency.
As the survey report notes,
“Government organizations the world over are eager to dismantle the bureaucracy that’s held them back. Budgetary pressures arising from economic stagnation and aging populations have severely constrained resources, including the ability to access and analyze data to create greater economic value. By facilitating the secure sharing of data between institutions and individuals, blockchain technology could help relieve those pressures.”
Some respondents are clearly out in front of the trend, including 14 percent of government organizations that anticipate that they’ll be building blockchains in 2017. Expectations are high as well, with seven in ten of the government executives saying that they believe blockchains can help their organizations to improve regulatory compliance by reducing time, cost, and risk. And 90 percent of those executives say that they’ll be investing in blockchain for things like asset and contract management, financial transactions, and regulatory compliance in the coming year.
The challenge of achieving these goals is magnified by the slow pace at which governments historically respond to any type of disruption - as the report's authors remind us:
“Disruption, especially in bureaucratic institutions is rare. Decades later, even the Internet hasn’t drastically changed how governments operate. And for the most part, it’s failed to make them compete. Some regions do better at attracting entrepreneurs and startups, but rarely do they compete in personalized citizen services. That could change as blockchains evolve to bring closer collaboration among citizens and government institutions.”
IBM clearly expects that change to come. In a recent post on the company's blog, David Zaharchuk predicted that, “Governments will be able to use blockchains to explore new business models for providing services to citizens beyond the limits of current technology. These models can be used to improve the efficiencies of current services, while expanding the ability to provide new services.”