Blockchain Product Management

Blockchain Basics for Product Managers

Written by Therese Padilla

As a forward-thinking product manager, you must stay on top of industry best practices and keep an eye out for new opportunities to help grow your business.

A case in point is the growing use of blockchain. Blockchain technology will impact the future of products. Understanding the basics of blockchain is critical for product managers across industries.

If you have limited experience with blockchain, an introduction to the basics is in order.

Introduction to Blockchain

Blockchain initially became prominent because of the role it plays in supporting cryptocurrencies. However, a myriad of use cases is emerging for recording transactions for businesses large and small.
As a product manager, you can anticipate that more organizations will be using blockchain soon, meaning it’s time to get ready for deployment now. Deloitte Insights recently conducted a poll that determined “76% of respondents believe digital assets will serve as a strong alternative to, or outright replacement for, fiat currencies in the next 5–10 years.”

Blockchain appeals to various companies that must establish trust with others to transact business over computer networks.

As the National Institute of Standards and Technology put it, “A blockchain is a collaborative, tamper-resistant ledger that maintains transactional records.” People record the data in groups known as blocks. Blocks connect one to the other using identifying information derived from data in the preceding block.
This means that if an unscrupulous business partner or an outright criminal tries to tamper with a blockchain record, the changes will be apparent immediately when data is compared across connected blocks.

The Beeck Center points out the value of this technology for businesses that are concerned with the need to exercise control over intellectual property and finances when information is stored online. “Every transaction in a blockchain has a unique identity that is linked to a single entity who can exercise control over the information or asset from that transaction.”

Every person using the blockchain will be aware of any tampering. For those who need a way to keep records collaboratively, such as for different partners in a complex supply chain who need to stay constantly updated, Blockchain technology represents a resilient and robust way to conduct business.

Establishing trust is indeed a significant problem for those doing business over the Internet. A case in point is how the industry is addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic, a situation that cries out for the advanced tracking capabilities of blockchain.

The Global Blockchain Business Council points out that “Blockchain would solve most challenges of standard supply chain management, including the greatest concern for COVID-19 vaccines: storage condition tracking.” Since it’s crucial to keep vaccinations stored at the correct temperature throughout their journey in the supply chain, blockchain is helpful since it provides irrefutable proof of the logistical requirements being met along the way.

Launching Blockchain in Your Organization

Adding blockchain to the mix in your organization will involve you working with a cross-functional team to take the initiative from mere thought to implementation.

Blockchain product managers are typically in charge of creating a strategy to develop blockchain products for their organization. You can anticipate much collaborative work across different departments, from software engineers to data scientists to product designers, in this role.

Issues to Consider for Implementing Blockchain

When you have decided it’s time to launch a blockchain initiative in your organization, Consensys has considerations to keep in mind for product managers:

  • Understand the return on investment for blockchain deployment.
  • Decide which platform to use based on a list of critical functions you want to be supported.
  • Verify that the blockchain platform integrates with your existing computational infrastructure.
  • Determine that the platform can scale as you grow, following industry best practices for privacy and security.
  • Check with your team to see if their need for support and maintenance lines up with what the blockchain platform provides
  • Prepare to set up a development team to begin a blockchain rollout, noting your infrastructure and middleware needs as well as a list of tools at the application layer.

Setting Up Blockchain with Help from Within or By Outsourcing

You will need to have plenty of knowledgeable computer science professionals working together to begin to build products on the blockchain.  Getting started will require technical skills and knowledge that your internal development team may lack. Under such conditions, you may prefer to work with 3rd party experts to help you deploy a blockchain solution instead of setting it with the help of new hires.

Preparing for a Blockchain Future

With blockchain technology growing more appealing because of its ability to show evidence of tampering with transactions and other use cases, you may be integrating it into your technology infrastructure sooner than you think.

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Deloitte Insights: Deloitte’s 2021 Global Blockchain Survey

National Institute of Standards and Technology: Blockchain

Beeck Center: The Blockchain Ethical Design Framework

Global Blockchain Business Council: Build Back Better: Digital Updates for Today’s Challenges

Consensys: The Best Blockchain for Your Business

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About the author

Therese Padilla

Therese is President of the Association of International Product Marketing & Management. She is a product management professional with broad experience in all areas of product development and management, including consumer products, enterprise software in startups and large corporate environments. Therese created the first product management certification program at the AIPMM which she co-founded in 1998.