When it comes to blockchain, companies still have a lot to figure out. Many CIOs and technologists I speak with admit they\u2019re still on the hunt for the right use case. Is there a killer application for blockchain beyond cryptocurrency? Analysts sure think so: Gartner predicts blockchain will eventually hit $3 trillion in investment by 2030.\nAnd while executives are intrigued by the possibilities, investigating applications surrounding payment processing, supply chain management, and contract administration, to name just a few ideas, these largely remain in the conceptual stages. Companies are taking it slowly\u2014just 3 percent of enterprises say they are making a substantial investment in the technology, but they\u2019re getting their ducks in a row. (Consider that registration for the Consensus blockchain conference happening this week doubled from last year to this.)\nThat\u2019s why now is the perfect time to consider how you\u2019re approaching blockchain projects. Who\u2019s part of your innovation process? Are you considering issues related to governance, risk, and compliance from the get-go? How are you working across business functions so that you can more quickly bring pilots\u2014then production applications\u2014to fruition?\nTeaming with risk and compliance can improve innovation\nBlockchain\u2019s greatest strength is that it represents a new way of recording and managing information. But its methodology is complex and markedly different from traditional computing techniques, so much so that simply understanding how it works can be a major undertaking.\nFor a developer immersed in blockchain technology, this can be all too easy to forget. It\u2019s human nature to distrust what we don\u2019t understand, and this psychology spills over into the enterprise too. So, while developers are excitedly investigating blockchain-based initiatives, others in the organization, such as internal audit or risk management, may want to pump the brakes a bit\u2014or you may think that they do.\nBut you might be surprised to learn that the people in these functions may view themselves as innovators. In PwC\u2019s recent Risk in Review study of 1,500 risk executives, we identified a group of leaders that we called the Adapters. They were confident in their organizations\u2019 ability to manage innovation-related risk and they were more directly involved in innovation activities. For example, 57 percent of Adapters who said they provided input on innovation activities even before the planning stage.\nAs a technology innovation leader, you need to find and cultivate those Adapters. You can also get ahead of the game by embracing internal audit, risk, and compliance teams from the start, working with them hand in hand to integrate governance and controls from the beginning of a project (even at the proof of concept stage). This is the best way to ensure that innovation flows efficiently into production.\nIn any mature enterprise, tech projects are rarely green-lighted unless the development team can show that the right business functions have been involved with the project and the right questions have been asked and answered. Smart innovators are proactive in involving departments like legal, internal audit, risk, and compliance because they don\u2019t want a project to be derailed at the last minute because they didn\u2019t involve the right people. I\u2019ve seen the benefits of this approach firsthand, where we\u2019ve integrated an intellectual property specialist from our legal group into our venture teams. He\u2019s able to raise important questions and inform our approach as we develop new products and services.\nHow to bridge the gap\nBridging the gap between technology and these functions foremost requires an understanding\u2014by both sides\u2014of the risks to which the organization is exposing itself. To that end, internal audit, risk, and compliance can help innovators by developing a risk and controlsframework that can be applied in the earliest stages of development, so technologists have a checklist to consider as they develop initiatives. Even better, an organization can leverage agile development techniques by including legal, internal audit, risk management, or compliance leads directly as part of an interdisciplinary development team. When you embed the risk function alongside innovators, you naturally remove obstacles farther down the road, speeding up the development process.\nFor their part, internal auditors can also leverage the risk and controls framework as it is populated to help establish their own comfort level with the new technology. As a minimum viable product takes shape, the framework can be used to establish areas where risk management should take a closer look at the application\u2014both in the short and long term.\nThe ultimate goal is to equip the CIO with enough information and power to confidently stand before a risk committee\u2014or the board of directors\u2014and tell them that the organization is not just innovating with blockchain, it\u2019s also protecting its brand.