Blockchain In Enterprises
In the last 15 years or so, we have experienced a significant business transformation because of open-source software, cloud, big data and artificial intelligence (AI). These are not just buzzwords anymore because enterprises have adopted various technologies that fall under the umbrella of these terms.
Blockchain is at the same place where the cloud and big data were several years ago. For most people, their first impression of the term “blockchain” was in relation to Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. If you are using blockchain already or have read about it, though, then there is a basic question: “How can I use blockchain in my enterprise?”
Blockchain is a technology in which data is not changeable. Immutable data is distributed across different servers -- decentralized -- and data is secured through cryptography.
In general, there is mixed opinion on having blockchain in production or adapting Blockchain as part of an enterprise solution offering. This skepticism about the technology comes from the lack of success stories about it, confusion because of cryptocurrencies and a lack of understanding around how the technology works. There are various Fortune 500 companies in finance, healthcare, real estate and supply chain who are testing blockchain to exchange information or make transactions. Personally, I deal with a lot of big data and data science work, and during my discussions, some of the top questions that I get are “Can we use blockchain to store all of our data?” and “Where can we use blockchain in our technology road map?”
In addition to blockchain, there are also decentralized applications (dApps). These applications and blockchain go together, as a dApp uses blockchain to retrieve information or execute transactions known as “smart contracts.” Although many believe that blockchain is a storage technology, blockchain is not going to replace data storage and data processing technologies like relational databases that we use in our transactional or reporting systems.
One of my favorite use cases for blockchain is in healthcare, where multiple healthcare companies and providers can share information to provide faster access and better transparency to a patient. Because data can be exchanged without worrying about disclosing the patient's information to someone who should not have it, healthcare providers can offer a simpler, more transparent process to consumers. Blockchain also provides better security in healthcare because of underlying features like immutability and built-in encryption.
Another use case for blockchain that has really strong potential is loyalty/rewards management, as consortium chains can provide a secure platform to exchange loyalty reward point information between businesses in travel, hotel and retail. Customers can earn and use reward points across all of these industries securely and easily. Blockchain introduces a platform to exchange information between servers and applications in a distributed way without compromising the security of the information and helps to provide a better way to know your customer (KYC), which translates to lower costs in marketing and a better return.
The future of blockchain in enterprise solutions revolves around private blockchain instead of public blockchain because private blockchain is only accessible to known users within the enterprise who are part of the consortium chain. In addition to the increased security of private blockchains, they also have better transaction performance, which plays a vital role in many organizations. One of the most important things is to pick the right blockchain technology, and the key driver is considering your business's use case.