Russ Felker, West Monroe Partners

Blockchain is not just a new technology tool, but a new business tool, according to Russ Felker, West Monroe Partners senior architect for mergers and acquisitions. West Monroe Partners consultants, based in Chicago, are deep technical experts, helping clients understand how technology can transform transactions, operations, and customer experiences. Felker will be part of the venture capital panel on blockchain technology, one of the hot tech topics at the Minnesota Venture Conference on Nov. 7.

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Felker offers this insight into blockchain entrepreneur startups:

1. What piques your interest in startups or innovators in blockchain? What has wowed you?
Blockchain has been labelled a disruptor and many applications support that labelling. One of the most interesting times in the maturity of a disruptive technology are the early applications of the technology and blockchain has no shortage of examples. What I find most exciting is the diversity of those applications. From medical to energy to finance, multiple industries are being impacted, and potentially disrupted, with blockchain-based solutions.

2. What do you think is the industry that will benefit most from startups/ innovators in blockchain? Why that industry?
Though blockchain has the potential to impact multiple industries, I see the impact to item provenance being the most dramatic in the near term. Provenance tracking, whether in hard goods, medical credentialing, or localized energy usage, makes good use of the strengths of blockchain technology. Data immutability, edge ingestion, edge processing and consortium support all play a part in this type of system. The use of blockchain to not just store data but provide a level of auditability which is an order of magnitude greater in trust, speed and automation is game changing.

3. What are the two best things that could happen at the Minnesota Venture Conference?
Firstly, the recognition of blockchain’s legitimacy as a viable technology tool which should be a part of any go-forward technology landscape discussion. Through the lens of the startup are new technologies brought more clearly into focus and I see the startup community as our collective technology bellwether.

Secondly, to see not just the technology potential, but the business potential of blockchain. So often we, in the technology and business communities, become mired in the status quo. Startups provide the catalyst for change and elevation of technology concepts to business reality. I look forward to seeing the application of blockchain to solve real business issues; some of which we may not even recognize as issues today.

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