Martha Bennett, Vice President and Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

Blockchain has a branding issue. Most people associate blockchain exclusively with the wildly volatile cryptocurrency market. But that’s not the only use for the technology. In this episode, Vice President and Principal Analyst Martha Bennett sets the record straight and dispels some of the most common myths about blockchain, NFTs, and, yes, even the metaverse.

The episode starts with Bennett explaining that blockchain networks come in two broad categories — permissioned and permissionless/public. The many cryptocurrencies that people equate with blockchain are run on public blockchains. However, permissioned blockchains restrict user access, and most enterprise blockchains are set up this way so they can bring true business value with much less risk. For example, a recent Forrester report highlights the banking industry’s use of blockchain to track payments and streamline regulatory compliance. And Bennett is quick to clarify that these enterprise blockchains typically have “no cryptocurrency anywhere near them.”

With the distinction between public and permissioned/enterprise blockchains made clear, Bennett then wades into the murky waters of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Again, there’s a misconception to clarify, because most people associate NFTs with collectibles or artwork that gets traded on public blockchains. However, Bennett says that “NFTs are a very useful technical construct,” and they can be used on a permissioned enterprise blockchain to tokenize and track ownership of a wide variety of business assets — from financial securities to container ships and everything in between. It’s not the tokenization of assets that brings risk; it’s the public trading of those tokenized assets.

The discussion then shortly diverts into the smart contracts that are used to manage the ownership of NFTs. While smart contracts are useful, Bennett describes the security risks associated with them and points to some real-world examples to illustrate these risks.

The episode wraps up with Bennett providing her take on the current state of Web3 and how it relates to the other topics discussed in the episode. “There is a very powerful narrative that equates Web3 with the metaverse, and we at Forrester collectively disagree with that,” she says. “Yes, there will be overlaps … but you do not need Web3 for the metaverse.”