By Ray Young
Originally developed in 2009 to track the exchange of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, blockchain provides organizations with a way to digitize transactions in a permanent, connected ledger. With records centralized for all parties within a secure network, it improves visibility and transparency, which helps for planning and making big business decisions. In recent years, more enterprises have started to look at implementing Blockchain, boosting its hype in numerous circles.
Despite considerable interest in blockchain, the number of business deployment examples remains scarce. In a 2018 survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. of around 300 CIOs, only one percent have actually deployed the technology, eight percent are in short-term planning stages or actively experimenting with it, and 43 percent have it on their radar but have no action plan in place.
The fact is blockchain is a radically new technology. With any major innovation, there are myths and misconceptions, that can deter organizations from fully investing despite discussions of its benefits. To help companies separate fact from fiction and better understand how they can take advantage of the technology. Here we discuss three common myths and truths about blockchain.
Blockchain Requires Complicated Integrations and Setup
Blockchain can help companies traverse distant locations, geographies, and borders by digitally connecting multiple channels, suppliers, partners, and customers with data on all of the various transactions that happen between each party. These transactions are saved in cryptographic blocks—hence the name “blockchain.” Some IT professionals may think that they need large servers to collect and exchange all of this data across their organizations’ disparate moving parts.
In reality, Blockchain can be deployed through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, allowing individuals at each point to connect and send transactional data through any device with an internet browser, including mobile devices or tablets. This means companies don’t need to invest in new, large infrastructures to start leveraging Blockchain. A SaaS model also accelerates deployment. A provider can develop a working sandbox in 30 to 45 days and get the network fully functional and connected within 90 days.
Only Large Companies can Consider Implementing Blockchain
There are some notable examples in the news of companies utilizing blockchain. Walmart is using it to improve the farm-to-fork traceability of its food products. British Airways is testing it to manage data about international flights to improve communication of flight information to passengers. FedEx is investing in blockchain to improve tracking on the 12 million shipments moves each day.
With all of these big names, it is easy for small- to mid-sized businesses to think that the technology is out of their reach. However, by using a SaaS model as described above, companies of any size can tap into the Blockchain. Moreover, through a monthly subscription-based method of payment, it also makes deployment affordable. Therefore, small- and mid-sized companies can also reap the benefits of Blockchain and gain the same data-driven transparency, traceability, and intelligence as the large players like Walmart, British Airways, and FedEx.
Blockchain is Not Fit for My Industry
Since Blockchain was originally designed for cryptocurrencies, it naturally evolved into applications within the banking and financial space. But now, practically every industry can implement the technology to address some of their toughest challenges. For instance, in the supply chain, manufacturers have widespread networks that stretch across multiple suppliers, production sites, warehouses, ecommerce sites, and retailers. With products touching so many parties, companies often lack insight into what is happening upstream and downstream, creating supply and demand imbalances that hurt business growth. Blockchain helps breakdown data silos and provide visibility from source to shelf. Companies can then optimize manufacturing planning and replenishment based on demand, driving sales and growth with the right inventory in their warehouses and at the retail level.
In another example—the entertainment industry—a movie studio can use blockchain technology to monitor the distribution and rights management of its owned content, which is especially critical in the digital era where content is widely shared and at risk of piracy. Content owners can register content ownership on blockchain for proof of authenticity and prevent infringement with an immutable record of sold rights. They can track and manage all content, licensing deals, and sales data, ensuring fair compensation and legal use of content.
All of the Hype
The hype surrounding Blockchain shows no signs of waning. However, the companies that will succeed and edge out their competition are the ones who can effectively deploy the technology to their businesses’ benefit. This can be done through an affordable, scalable SaaS model, which can help companies of any size and in virtually any industry. Organizations can thereby rise above the hype and drive transparency, accountability, and trust with an irrefutable ledger of all transactions across their enterprise.
Ray Young is CTO/co-founder at Omnichain Solutions.
Oct2018, Software Magazine