News of Blockchain's potential has reverberated throughout almost every industry this past decade, and the hype is justified.
In Deloitte's 2019 Global Blockchain Survey, 53% of senior executives expressed that blockchain has become a critical priority for their organizations this year, up 10 percentage points since 2018. Furthermore, 83% see compelling use cases for the technology, up from 74% last year, signifying a growing recognition across multiple industries that the technology is real and viable in the world of business.
This surge in popularity can be attributed to benefits like increased transparency, accurate tracking, secure permanent records, and cost reductions, all of which are reshaping how organizations are approaching their processes and technological innovations. Industries such as healthcare, banking, financial services, real estate, automotive, and even the public sector are especially well-suited to blockchain tech, leading the charge for the sectors lagging behind.
The blockchain is essentially a digital ledger that stores chronological information for all transactions carried out on a connected network. It's similar to a peer-to-peer network, but instead of relying on a single entity, platform, or system to control it, the chain is spread out across a multitude of machines, almost like a network of servers (or nodes, in this case). This is where the decentralization comes into play.
The only way to alter information on the blockchain is if every node on the network validates the transaction. It's append-only, meaning that historical data cannot be edited, adjusted, or changed in any way. This feature helps preserve the old data, ensuring that the contents stored within the blockchain are always trustworthy.
Still with us? Great, let's cut to the benefits that blockchain is delivering and how you can get started with it.
Blockchain was originally developed to support Bitcoin, the pioneering cryptocurrency. It now underpins many different types of cryptocurrencies, Ethereum included. Aside from that, however, it offers a variety of functional upgrades for modern businesses, particularly due to its increased security, reliability, and decentralized yet public structure.
Smart contracts, for example, can be deployed, updated and stored in a blockchain network to modernize, protect, and verify the signing process for any document.
One example is Slock.it, an Ethereum-based Internet of Things (IoT) platform that uses smart contracts to power the sharing economy. One of its applications enables customers to rent bicycles, which only become unlocked after both parties agree to a digital contract. This transaction can take place anywhere, even via mobile devices, so customers can immediately gain access to their rented bike after the agreement is finalized. The information is then stored in the company's blockchain and cannot be altered after the initial signing.
Cloud storage is another great way to upgrade existing platforms with blockchain tech, where content is stored in a highly secure environment with less dependency on major providers and lower associated costs.
Atlanta-based Storj has based its entire launch on exactly that with its product Tardigrade.io, which securely encrypts and splits files before distributing them across its storage platform, resulting in download speeds 20% faster than Amazon S3, among other benefits.
Supply chain management is a particularly great fit for blockchain as it helps improve transparency and accountability in logistics. Imagine being able to track the movement of goods all the way back to a source, with access to the full record of who handled the shipment and what happened along the way. In this use case, it has the potential to reduce fraud and theft, improve quality control, and prevent consumer-facing problems like contaminated foods or damaged goods.
For the healthcare industry, the accuracy of informa