The Convergence Alliance launched by 18 organisations to enable new open data economy on decentralised web
A group of leading enterprise partners, venture capitalists, technologists, start-ups and academic institutions has joined forces to use blockchain better to pioneer the next phase of the Web.
The 18 global founding members of The Convergence Alliance include; T-Mobile, SAP, Jaguar Land Rover, Smart Dubai, Imperial College London, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, MOBI Foundation and Outlier Ventures.
They will initially focus on an open source stack of 15 protocols making up 15.5 million lines of code including Sovrin, Fetch.ai, Ocean Protocol, Haja Networks, Agoric and SEED.
What is the Convergence Alliance?
The Convergence Alliance’s mission is to accelerate and diffuse a more equitable, scalable and usable Web 3.0 to affect a New Open Data Economy based on the sovereignty of the user. Countering the platform monopolies of Silicon Valley and enabling a more evenly distributed value creation from AI.
Founding members include Deutsche Telekom’s T-Labs innovation arm, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, SAP, Imperial College London, Frankfurt School Blockchain Centre, the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI, which includes 100 of its own mobility members), Datarella blockchain solutions, Smart Dubai and the Fab City Global Initiative with 1,000 labs for additive manufacturing. Each founding member represents a key stakeholder groups critical to realising the vision of a more open and equitable Web 3.0.
Raimund Gross, innovation manager from SAP says about joining the Alliance, “At SAP we put business value at front and centre, hence the solutions we provide often involve several technologies. The Convergence Alliance allows us to collaborate with peers from the industry, share knowledge and gain a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities arising from emerging technologies. This endeavour will help us identify new ways of enriching business processes and eventually create new business models in service of our customers.”
The Alliance connects technologists pioneering Web3.0 with industries such as IT & telecommunications, mobility, industry & manufacturing, utilities and smart cities that have already undergone a rapid process of digitisation. However, they now face challenges in unlocking return-on-investment from their experimentation in blockchain or turning big data initiatives into meaningful commercial advantages in AI.
What makes it different to the many other blockchain think tanks and consortia is that it doesn’t focus on blockchain and distributed ledger in isolation. The Convergence Alliance is instead centred on the concept of ‘convergence’, where technologies such as blockchain are best understood in the context of the wider technical landscape, and in particular how with AI, Big Data and IoT they combine and accelerate one another.
This has led The Alliance to explore the adoption of a curated stack of 15 open source technologies with 15.5M lines of code, called The Convergence Stack, with includes hardware, routing, distribution, interfacing and the application layer of the internet. As well as assessing standards they may require and how they would integrate into legacy business processes and IT systems.
Transitioning from a centralised Web 2.0 to the decentralised Web 3.0
Web 2.0 has by now highlighted the value of data but has concentrated into a handful of platform monopolies with extractive and intrusive business models with insecure data infrastructure. Where Google, Facebook or Amazon have become a direct competitor or overly dominant cloud AI vendor to many companies and industries. Further to this, the recent launch of Facebook Libracoin, a public permissioned consortia planning to issue their own digital currency, has mobilised many industries to accelerate their thinking about their place within a new data economy, acting for many as a ‘burning platform’ moment.
The Convergence Alliance will facilitate collaboration at both a technical and commercial level to solve these data challenges. Its founding members have already led their respective industries building solutions leveraging The Stack including the Jaguar Land Rover IOTA-powered car wallet, where car owners earn credits by enabling their cars to report data on road conditions and traffic congestion and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Labs and Fetch.AI who are working together to build and deploy autonomous economic agents, that can be integrated into IoT devices to provide them with the authority and autonomy to organise themselves free of human intervention.
Jamie Burke, founder of Outlier Ventures and The Convergence Stack thesis comments: “The last 25-year computing cycle has been dominated by The Platform & The Cloud, with obscene value creation for a handful of corporations. However, there is a growing awareness about the trade-offs of the cloud platform and a developed understanding of the benefits of decentralised technology, unlocking a new truly peer to peer value exchange. The Alliance is the first manifestation of a counter narrative and a signal of the paradigm shift that’s about to come.’
“We’re excited to work alongside the Founding members of The Convergence Alliance to accelerate and diffuse a more equitable, scalable and usable Web3.0, centred around a New Data Economy and the cognitive revolution. Bringing together open-source protocols, enterprise, academia, and start-ups to realise Web3.0 by defining, building, financing and integrating the Convergence Stack. We look forward to bringing meaningful ROI and impact form the promise of blockchain across a variety of industries, expanding the Stack, and we welcome partners to join building Web3.0. ”
Alliance objectives and activities
The Stack has been in development for several years, and now with the formal launch of the Alliance, there is further collaboration around interoperability. The Alliance is facilitated by Outlier Ventures, and the inaugural summit of founding partners was launched this month (02/07/2019) where members agreed upon a set of core objectives which would then be opened up to the active participation of a wider membership of partners and peers.
- Standards peer group: With a rapidly expanding technology ecosystem birthing numerous emergent protocols with the potential to build upon the foundational innovations of HTTP (website browsing) or SMTP (email), members want a curated forum of peers to understand and explore different approaches around areas like interoperability or privacy to inform how they engage with standards initiatives.
- Ecosystem guidance: To collectively agree and communicate the technical and commercial needs of alliance members from The Stack to help direct innovations in protocols, applications and support services, as well as the venture capital required to bring them to market.
- Dissemination & education: To effectively educate the ecosystem of developers, businesses as well as technical academia through targeted events, content and research to accelerate adoption. Helping industry to ‘cross the chasm’ and diffuse the innovations of Web 3.0
Philipp Sandner, head of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Centre, comments on the Alliance objectives, “As one of the leading think tanks in Germany, it is an honor to participate in the Convergence Alliance. Convergence is about new business models for startups, corporates and investors – driven by blockchain. The Alliance brings together key people with business, IT and academic background, that will shape the fundament new business ideas driven by blockchain, IoT and data analytics.”
Outlier Ventures previously communicated that it intends to deploy US$30 million (€26.7 million) worth of support for The Stack through its venture platform over the next 3 years. The Alliance will finance its own activities such as working groups, summits, developer conferences, research and the creation of educational content through annual membership fees. However, core to the philosophy of the alliance is the careful curation of members who must demonstrate an advanced level of technical maturity and c-level commitment to business model innovation and the meaningful deployment of Stack technologies.
Ecosystem of partners unlocking $1.5 trillion by 2025
The founding members represent a wider ecosystem of participants that are required to shift the industry from a period of experimentation by early adopters to cross the chasm to the wider market and unlock an estimated $1.5 trillion (€1.3 trillion) by 2025 according to IDC and IBM. They believe this will be achieved by the Alliance’s objectives to:
- Inspire visionaries within large enterprise innovation outposts, venture teams and labs to gain applied learning through pilots and early stage investments
- Connect these innovations to strategic goals at the c-suite of highly digitised industries and technically mature organisations
- Onboard and enable middle management, as implementers and budget holders, through effective usable solutions and tooling
- Venture financing of early stage startups and research groups to bring technologies to market
- Empowerment of both the technical and commercial talent market, including new entrants and professionals looking to reskill and upskill to advocate and effect change