Blockchain – Get Started
According to research, the global market for blockchain stood at $708 million in 2017 and is anticipated to reach $60.7 billion by 2024.
As the benefits of blockchain technology become more apparent it is unsurprising to see investment booming. At its core level, a blockchain is a digital ledger that can be accessed, read and added to by any number of users with computational algorithms or rules applied to determine the validity of records being added. This means that no individual has ownership or control over what is stored and blockchain technology uses well-established cryptographic security methods to secure access. Records can be added by any participant (or node) and all other nodes receive a copy. Records cannot be deleted. This preserves an entire history of information or transactions that in turn improves trust and removes the need for third-party verification or auditing.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)
Still perhaps most renowned for Bitcoin, blockchain’s growing demand can be attributed to the proliferation of industry wide applications. Starting across finance disciplines, we are now seeing strong use cases appear in the supply chain, retail, CPG, industrial products, healthcare, Government, and more.
Blockchain tackles one of the biggest challenges faced in supply chain management; transparency across a global network. Blockchain can be applied to provide product provenance and establish traceability from every product’s raw state to its delivery to customers with immutability. As events in every product’s journey are updated by the multiple parties involved and are shared, any changes to the information can be accessed in near real-time. In a recent example, Walmart saw the time to trace a package of mangoes from “farm to fork” reduced from 6 days and 18 hours to just 2.2 seconds when using a blockchain solution. A product’s provenance can be traced to not only enhance transparency, but also to prevent counterfeits and thefts, reduce paperwork and human error, and in turn significantly increase efficiency.
The decentralised nature of blockchain means that there isn’t a specific area where hackers can target, making this technology an ideal use case for identity management. Statistics on theft and fraud has increased significantly with the growth of the internet over the years. In 2017, 2.6 billion records were stolen, lost, or exposed across the globe according to the Breach Level Index. With blockchain’s established authentication tools it offers a secure method to verify your digital identity in a protected manner while sharing targeted information. A prime example is Civic’s Security Identity Platform; designed for multi-factor authentication which relies on biometric information verified by the blockchain ledger. Each user can go through an identity check where partnering organisations such as banks or governments can query the blockchain for the necessary verifiers. Should such an approach be adopted, it will in turn, reduce theft and fraud and allow individuals more control over their private information.
With the right application, blockchain offers a means to improve relationships, to reduce complexity and errors, add resilience in networks, transform business models, and through smart contracts; automate processes.
Understanding the impact of blockchain cannot be done alone, by its nature Blockchain requires collaboration. Companies should be talking to their suppliers and partners about their exploration into blockchain, to technology companies who are expanding its use and where possible they should look to join existing use case exploration.
The following steps seem common sense, but common sense is not action:
Learn – Blockchain is gathering pace. Companies starting the journey now will be able to build their knowledge, interact with their value chain/partners, understand the impact and communicate this to stakeholders.
Try – Use cases are being explored across industries and companies are looking to collaborate on Blockchain initiatives. We recommend workshops with existing partners to find a mutual interest. There are many events looking at Blockchain technology, some tailored to a particular sector, that are worth attending. If the right opportunity arises then pursue a trial or proof of concept to build understanding in your organisation.
Hire – Finding the right people and technology partners can be challenging. In developing technologies, especially those that experience a rapid value increase, this is even harder. That said, many companies have established an internal Blockchain expert to lead initiatives, typically this should be a problem-solver aware of organisational challenges and able to network with partners, suppliers and customers to find the right use cases.
A significant blocker to getting off the ground with Blockchain will be integrating legacy systems (i.e getting the information out of your own IT systems). Retailers, common with other industries, often rely on IT systems developed in-house in the 90s or 2000s that are siloed and offer limited data exchange.
That’s why tech companies, like Boxchain, are innovating on blockchain concepts and providing application interfaces to maximise its potential. Boxchain provides a software kit to build enterprise-ready blockchain applications in weeks. What’s more, Boxchain is designed on the same principles as a blockchain natively persisting data and, through hashing, can be used to store only targeted sets of data in a blockchain. Ensuring functionality but improving speed, performance while also protecting commercial information.
Boxchain is a platform with a difference. We analysed technology trends and impact to build a next generation platform to support the 4thindustrial requirements – real-time interaction, seamless integration, blockchain connectivity, rapid change and process adjustment. Our mission is to enable companies to take advantage of the latest and greatest innovation and is designed to be dynamic and support todays processes while allowing flexibility to adjust to the future.