Blockchain is poised to transform the world of business, and here's how you can leverage it.
One of the amazing things about blockchain technology — and this is why there's so much buzz surrounding it currently — is that it has so much potential to offer, and that's true for any industry.
On the surface, it promises to improve traceability, security, and reliability due to its decentralized structure.
Gartner analysts refer to it as "a platform for digital transformation," because it's poised to change so many aspects of the business and enterprise world.
So what is it? What makes it so special?
Breaking down Blockchain Technology
Essentially, the blockchain is a digital ledger that includes chronological information for all transactions carried out on a connected network. It was originally developed to support Bitcoin, the pioneering cryptocurrency. It now underpins many different types of cryptocurrencies, Ethereum included.
The blockchain works similar to a peer-to-peer network. Instead of a single entity, platform or system being in control, the chain is spread out across a multitude of machines — a server network if you will. This is where the decentralization comes into play.
In addition, no one can alter information or data stored within the blockchain. The only way to do so is to conduct a verified transaction such as the exchange of data or even the exchange of digital currency.
[NEW TO BLOCKCHAIN? READ MORE: An Intro to Blockchain Technologies]
How it can be used in business
Blockchain, by nature, offers a variety of functional upgrades for modern business 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 any document signing process. For instance, Slock — an Ethereum based IoT platform — uses smart contracts to power the sharing economy. In one application of theirs, customers can rent bicycles, which are then unlocked for use after both parties agree to a digital contract. The information is stored in the company's blockchain and cannot be altered after the initial signing. More importantly, the transaction can take place anywhere, even via mobile devices, so customers immediately gain access to their rented transportation after the agreement is complete.
Cloud storage is another great application for blockchain tech, where content is stored in a highly-secure environment with less dependency on major providers and lower associated costs. Atlanta-based Storj is making exactly that happen through a recent service launch, which is currently in public alpha.
Blockchain has its uses in the supply chain as well and will help improve transparency and accountability in logistics. Imagine being able to track the movement of goods all the way back to a source, with the full purview of who accessed the shipment and what happened along the way. It has the potential to reduce fraud and theft, improve quality control and even prevent consumer-facing problems — like contaminated foods or goods.
Other uses of blockchain include:
- General paperwork and record keeping
- Quality control
- Supply chain management
- Payments, money transfers, and payroll
- Digital ID and authentication support
- Loyalty programs such as Gyft Block
- Networking and IoT
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Getting started with Blockchain
Step one is to decide which platform you will be supporting: existing or proprietary. Ethereum is one of the best and it's backed by an incredibly knowledgeable and supportive community. You can also build your own custom platform.
In either case, you will need the full support of an experienced development crew to handle initialization, general development, deployment, debugging and scaling.
Depending on what you're trying to do with the technology, there may be solutions out there already. Companies like Patron, Menlo One, Goldilock, and FCoin have deployed blockchain technologies of their own.One thing is certain, however. The possibilities are endless, which is exactly why blockchain is involved in the future of most industries. It also means that you have a lot of work ahead of you if you're looking to get involved with the technology.
Want to learn more about how blockchain technology works and how to leverage it for your own business? We have you covered. Schedule a 20 minute chat with a PSL representative to learn how blockchain can help transform your company.