World Economic Forum’s Nadia Hewett on Piloting Blockchain

Chase Chapman

June 23, 2020

We sat down to talk with Nadia Hewett, Project Lead of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology at the World Economic Forum. For the past 18 months, Nadia led the World Economic Forum’s effort in developing the Blockchain Deployment Toolkit. The WEF worked with over 200 organizations across more than 50 countries to co-create the toolkit, which aims to highlight best practices, both technical and non-technical, of blockchain deployment. While the toolkit focuses on supply chain, the major factors that lead to a successful blockchain deployment are applicable in all areas of application ‒ from finance to insurance to pharmaceuticals. We asked Nadia to share a couple pieces of advice she’d give to a company looking to pilot blockchain technology.

Digitization maturity

Assessing the digitization maturity of a company is vital for implementing blockchain technology. While some organizations can absolutely use blockchain to leapfrog further into digital maturity, there are elements of blockchain that do require existing digital processes. To use blockchain for document tracking, for example, requires that documents within the existing system already be digitized (perhaps in PDF form). A company that still uses hard copies requires significant digitization efforts before blockchain can be used.


Blockchain, when coupled with proper digitization efforts, can be a great solution. It’s likely, Nadia says, that organizations won’t have one blockchain solution, but instead will introduce unique features that blockchain has to offer while complimenting it with other systems to address a real problem.


Ultimately, organizations should look at blockchain as "one tool in the broader digitization journey".


Work with other companies who are developing blockchain solutions

R&D can be expensive. Joining a consortium with upstream or downstream suppliers or even competitors allows companies to share R&D costs. Joining a consortium not only saves R&D costs, but it can also make the chances of industry-wide adoption much higher. Look at what industry consortia are working on and learn from what they’re doing. While working with competitors may seem counterintuitive, Nadia cites this type of joint effort as one of the major ways companies can defend against platform models like AirBnB or Uber.

Organizations looking to pilot blockchain technology should assess both digital maturity and current industry efforts to experiment with blockchain. For more on best practices for blockchain deployment, the World Economic Forum’s Blockchain Deployment Toolkit provides in-depth insights into the technical and non-technical elements of a successful blockchain deployment. To get started with blockchain development, check out our tool, DappStarter, a blockchain application generator that empowers developers to build blockchain applications with built-in best practices that get organizations from idea to deployment faster and with lower costs.


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