Vacation first reinvigorates me then my mind goes into overdrive. This post is certainly the result of overdrive while on vacation.
One of my investment themes – and I am not the only one given the number of posts I see on the subject – is that distributed/shared ledger technology (permissioned, permissionless) will usher a new age of innovation and reinvention of all things “core” within the financial services and fintech industry. For simplicity’s sake I will refer to all of these as “blockchain” technology even though the terminology is not perfect. To be clear I do not include digital currencies in my investment theme. Further, by “core” I mean core systems, systems of record, asset ownership and transfer systems, clearing and settlement systems… The potential list of applications is too long for me to be exhaustive plus this is not the purpose of the post.
Anyhoo, as my mind was wandering during my French estival retreat, I started wondering if established consulting firms, systems integrators and software providers were aware of the potential threat of blockchain technology to their businesses. Some individuals might, but collectively these firms may not. If, at some point in the future blockchain technology is to replace some middleware and back end infrastructure, the likes of SAP or Oracle to name just two, will be threatened – others fintech service providers such as SunGuard that sell in a more targeted fashion to the financial services industry even more so. If these tech behemoths are threatened, then the eco-system that lives off of consulting, implementation, integration and maintenance also will – think Accenture, McKinsey, Deloitte, PWC, EY…
For fun, and as a loose proxy for interest in all things blockchain I queried Linkedin and shot off a few advanced searches:
– Searched for the keywords: blockchain, distributed ledgers, digital currencies
– Narrowed the search to the Consulting Industry and the IT industry
– Narrowed the search to Partners, VP
– Narrowed the search to SAP, Oracle, Accenture, EY, Deloitte, McKinsey, PWC
And the results… yielded a fat ZERO. Not even one record.
This is not too surprising after all as we are in the very early stages of blockchain development and new technologies in early stages of incubation are usually not worthy of interest to consulting and tech incumbents.
I believe the results will be completely different when I perform the same search in 5 years from now. All the established consultants and tech companies will enter the blockchain space through acquisition – of tech, of talent – and will start selling to financial services companies. It is just a matter of time.