One of the most common questions we get asked in our work with customers is “what’s a good blockchain use case?”  So we’ve developed a way to ensure we are adding enough value by applying blockchain to a particular business problem.  What’s blockchain?  See “More  Information” at the end of this post.

[1] Awareness – we first explain IBM’s point of view on blockchain for business by walking through what blockchain does (avoiding technical jargon), how blockchain can make a difference (use cases and benefits) and how IBM is involved (customer engagements, the Linux Hyperledger Project and our blockchain service on our Bluemix cloud).


Figure 1: Blockchain for Business

We then use our vehicle leasing demo to show what blockchain can do in practice, and allow the customer to customise the demo in a guided lab environment.  This gets us on the same page about what blockchain is and what it can do so we can discuss potential use cases.

[2] Brainstorm – we then hold a classic brainstorm using normal rules like no idea is a bad idea, everyone can contribute with little time for debate.  We focus on clear, concise capture of each idea.

Use Case Ideas

Figure 2: Use Case Idea Capture

If there are lots of ideas we can give customer participants three voting stickers and ask them to append to their preferred use case.

[3] Select – We then position sticky notes with a concise summary of the use case idea on a two dimensional grid of business impact on the vertical axis against degree of difficulty on the horizontal axis.


Figure 3: Use Case Selection

Participants decide on the placing of the idea in a short discussion. Our goal is to choose the top few use cases for further, more detailed analysis – or to pick just one if it’s really obvious.

[4] Expand – We now work on one use case and expand out the business characteristics. This makes sure that all participants understand, buy into and have a common view of the focus use case.

UC Expand copy

Figure 4: Use Case Expansion

The customer’s subject matter expert will lead on this, and we capture, question and ensure participant agreement.

[5] Blockchain Fit – We then validate blockchain fit, making sure they hit the attributes shown on the right. #1 is a MUST (if there is no business network involved, blockchain is NOT the right solution) and the use case must address one or more of attributes #2 – #4.


Figure 5: Blockchain Attributes

Our blockchain expert leads this plenary discussion, often challenging the participants to ensure a good degree of fit (or not!).

This selection process  and associated discussion ensures we end up with a use case that:

  1. is suitable to augment customer awareness on blockchain
  2. can be implemented with blockchain in it’s current maturity state
  3. ensures blockchain is a good fit and drives significant business value.

Agree, disagree, disinterested?  I’d much appreciate an active debate on this topic!  Contact me through leaving a comment, twitter or LinkedIn!

More Information?

  1. Blockchain for Government
  2. Proving Provenance with Blockchain
  3. Blockchain and Cyber Security
  4. Blockchain, how SMART is your contract?