Web3 embodies an evolving vision for the future of the internet, a vision that builds on concepts of decentralization and transparency, and technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI).[foot]For information on Web3, see “15 Key Ways Web2 is (or will be) Truly Different from Web3,” Forbes, March 6, 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2023/03/06/15-key-ways-web2-is-or-will-be-truly-different-from-web3/.[/foot] But are companies today ready to pursue that vision? In a 2022 MIT CISR survey, only thirteen percent of executives described their companies as very effective at deploying technologies like blockchain, while thirty-six percent described them as only slightly or not at all effective at it. Companies’ effectiveness at deploying those technologies was significantly correlated with growth and profitability.[foot]MIT CISR 2022 Future Ready Survey (N=721).[/foot]
The emergence of technologies enabling Web3 has accelerated over the past decade. Compelling use cases for participating in an increasingly Web3-influenced economy are accumulating, and companies face difficult choices. Those companies that are not ready for or otherwise wait out the current wave of activity may see competitors embrace the best market opportunities, leaving them fewer opportunities with which to entice high-value digital talent seeking to develop experience and skills. But early adopters of blockchain-based Web3 solutions have experienced some significant failures over the past eighteen months and written off substantial investments. Digital leaders are faced with the question of how to build the capabilities needed to participate in value creation from Web3 while managing the risks of participation.
From 2022 to 2023, we interviewed executives across industries encompassing distribution, banking, technology startups, insurance, and software to explore enterprise approaches to adopting blockchain.[foot]The authors conducted interviews with fifteen executives from twelve globally based companies.[/foot] We analyzed the findings and identified four approaches that were informed by organizational risk appetite, regulatory acceptance, competition, and the digital savviness of key executives. In this briefing, we describe the four approaches and illustrate them with industry examples.