14 - 18 June 2021, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Pull yourself together, rabbit heart!

Distributed ledger technologies are mature enough to be applied in various industries. The chemical industry, however, is shying away despite plenty of use cases. Does the managers’ age play a role in this?

Once upon a time, there was a rabbit who found a field of beautiful carrots. They were not quite the shade of orange that he was familiar with, but much more intensely coloured, glowing even. The rabbit was the patriarch of a large rabbit family, his whiskers greying with age. He sniffed the carrots, they smelled fine, yet he couldn’t bring himself to take a bite. "Don’t touch the carrots", he advised his rabbit offspring, "something may be wrong with them." "Maybe – and maybe not," answered a particularly cheeky junior rabbit, "maybe they are even better than our usual carrots? Our neighbours the field hamsters have been eating them for quite some time, and they seem fine. They even have had particularly shiny coats ever since." That said, he dug heartily into the roots; they tasted delicious and were easily digestible. The carrots turned out to be particularly rich in beta-carotene, hence the funky glowing orange and they were also richer in other nutrients. The new-fangled carrots made the junior rabbit grow large and strong; larger and stronger even than the rabbit patriarch had ever been and the adventurous youngster lived happily ever after.

Pull yourself together, rabbit heart!
Artwork by Claus Ast

That’s about what is currently happening in the process industries, with distributed ledger technologies (DLT) being the funky orange carrot. They may look unfamiliar, but other industries – think fintech and food supply – have been applying them successfully, and they wouldn’t do so if it were to their financial disadvantage.

Fear of change

The chemical industry, however, is herding its companies wrinkling its nose in mistrust at the unknown like grey-whiskered rabbit patriarchs. Yet the "we have always done it this way" attitude no longer applies in this fast-moving world. To be successful today, you have to be constantly proactive, not reactive and take a mouthful of the unknown every now and then. Unfortunately, the term "bitcoin" is tattooed all over the DLT carrot. Too many reports about the energy-intensive mining process, the slow performance and the fluctuating price of the cryptocurrency make the glow too funky for many. It takes the adventurous type to try something new; whether it’s a characteristic of youth to be venturesome is open for discussion. Industry insiders claim it is and point in the direction of fintech for proof: plenty of junior rabbits staffing the C-suite, eager to sample the next superfood carrot. "Fail fast, and if you fail, at least you have a good story for the next f*ck-up night" is their philosophy.
The adventurous junior rabbit in the fairytale lived happily ever after. The fate of the fearful patriarch is unknown; he may still be nibbling stale roots and wondering where everybody else has gone.

-- MARLENE ETSCHMANN --

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