Living in a world of alternative facts, fake news and cyber threats as regular occurrences, businesses are challenged more than ever to be able to be the intermediary to ensue transactions are completed to the satisfaction of both/all parties involved. Since it as been 6 months since we last discussed blockchain this is perfect timing to cover what is new in this fast moving area.
As the global economy works to restore trust in finance, governments and transactions, blockchain technology provides an infrastructure that enables people, business and entities that do not know each other to be able to use the data itself to establish the trust. That is a significant accomplishment made possible because of the technologies and infrastructures available today. Let’s begin…..
What is Blockchain?
“Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger for recording the history of transactions. It fosters a new generation of transactional applications that establish trust, accountability and transparency—from contracts to deeds to payments.” This definition is the one that helped make it clearer for me and I use it with others when this question comes up. Next, this video provides a great visual explanation: Watch the video
The Economist The Trust Machine: The technology behind Bitcoin could transform how the economy works
Enabling a process for transactions to ensure complete transparency is why blockchain is becoming a technology generating so much discussion. The area that made me so interested in this technology is around how the chains in the block are formed and data does not get deleted. A complete historical chain is formed for peoples, places and things including our digital persona’s, digital places and digital things. This article discussing how blockchain is the infrastructure behind bitcoin but it is not bitcoin–it is so much more.
Trust me: Digital identity on blockchain Updated 13 Apr 2017
Blockchain takes a new approach to identity management by enabling an always up-to-date lifetime history of data. Having a digital identify that is accurate and tamper-proof is what we want for our finances, health and ownership of assets. Today when we have this discussion one of the first questions is will having all my data in on place make it more at risk for theft and mis-use? This is another reason why the timing of blockchain is valuable. Credibility of data is on of the key criteria being sought in bringing food to market, completing financial transaction and managing our health records.
This IBM Institute for Business Value report shows the benefit on multiple levels of having a system that is trusted for a variety of transactions. Also, the timing meets a need based on traditional intermediaries not been seen as the historical trusted advisory for ensuring creditability in a variety of transactions.
Unblocking the blockchain Updated 15 Mar 2017
Blockchain is about bringing trust to transactions –success depends on transparency and audit ability for supply chain participants. “On six continents, regulated firms are bringing forward multiple proofs of concept. Regulators
are engaging in the testing, selection and application of blockchain with unprecedented ardor so the solutions that emerge are robust, tested and scalable. This will likely be the focus for 2017 for regulated firms as they seek to cut costs.”
Blockchain benefits for electronics: Taming complexity with better supply chain visibility Updated 23 Feb 2017
For electronics companies, Blockchain technology can reduce frictions to improve the cost, time and risk associated with complex processes. As we have discussed what others are doing, here is an IBM example.
“IBM Global Financing extends credit to thousands of partners who purchase from IBM suppliers. It has piloted a blockchain for dispute resolution that can handle the 2.9 million transactions that lead to an average of 25,000 disputes annually and tie up about USD 100 million in capital. By transferring data to the blockchain, IBM has reduced dispute resolution times from more than 40 days to fewer than 10, improving capital efficiency by 40 percent.”
Healthcare rallies for blockchains: Keeping patients at the center Updated 09 Dec 2016
“Of 200 surveyed healthcare executives – payers and providers in 16 countries – 16 percent expect to have a commercial blockchain solution at scale in 2017.”
After having the opportunity to speak at the recent DePaul University Informatics Healthcare Conference I selected this study as the foundation for my comments. We have seen multiple examples about using blockchain in finance but what is more valuable than money–our health. Here are a few of the expected use cases for blockchain in the healthcare field:
IBM BLUEMIX BLOCKCHAIN
Today everyone can begin creating their first blockchain. In the IBM Bluemix Cloud the free 30 day trial enables anyone to create a blockchain environment. Faculty and students have extended renewable access covered in the next section. This starter environment enables you to begin watching the chaincode transactions and tracking how the blockchain gets built. The dashboard allows you to monitor the activities.
IBM Academic Initiative Faculty and Student Promo Codes (renewable) for Bluemix
For faculty and students to get more than 30 days of access to the IBM Bluemix Cloud for the above blockchain (and other cloud resources) this link provide access to get a Bluemix Promo Code to be applied to your Bluemix account. For faulty, as shown in the below example, the promo codes provides for 12 months renewable access to the Bluemix cloud. For students (must select student tab in the above URL) the access is for 6 months and it is also renewable.
As we project what is coming, this City Built on Blockchain demonstrates ambitious plans. “We want to make Dubai the first blockchain-powered government in the world by 2020,” says Aisha Bin Bishr, director general of Smart Dubai, a government office tasked with facilitating innovation in the emirate. “It is disruptive for existing systems, but will help us prepare for the future,” she says. This is an example of how fast blockchain is moving from finance, retail and transportation examples to entire municipalities being planned around the technology in the next 3 years. While it is not mainstream today, these examples demonstrate implementation of blockchain on larger integrated projects is moving at record speed.
Hyperledger and IBM Blockchain
The Hyperledger environment provides the ability to have a permissioned network of confidential transactions this is programmable without cryptocurrency. This chart provides a good approach to compare how Hyperledger compares to other technologies or programs often being referenced in blockchain discussions:
As with most technologies in the early stages of development, there will be hurdles, challenges and changes to the technology as it is adopted across various industries. Today we can see across these example how use from individuals to broad adoption can have an impact.
As we become more educated on what this means to our businesses and industries the goal is for all of us to help influence the decisions being made on how best to implement and govern for growth and the other benefits possible with a technology that can take us to one single source of truth. Now that’s good news!
LinkedIn: Valinda Kennedy