Blockchain emerged onto the tech scene in the early 21st century as a means of storing and trading cryptocurrency, but it quickly became obvious that the digital ledger technology could be used for so much more. Now, blockchain is hailed as the technology of the future, a tech innovation that will revolutionize how people share information, how businesses operate and more.
Yet, dozens of technologies before blockchain have received similar treatment only to be forgotten in the annals of tech history. Will blockchain actually change the world, or is this merely an intriguing tech trend destined to live and die as a novelty?
The Possible Applications of Blockchain
While ideas about a blockchain-like immutable ledger system were theorized as early as the 1980s, blockchain technology wasn’t developed until 2008, when it was used to track the world’s first cryptocurrency: Bitcoin. Now, blockchain is used for creating and storing all manner of crypto-assets, and most people associate the tech entirely with trading crypto — but that isn’t blockchain’s only function. Blockchain boasts a number of exceedingly valuable features that make the tech applicable to a variety of industries in a variety of ways. Some of the most important features of blockchain include:
Transactions using the blockchain ledger do not require a third-party validation service; they occur directly between senders and receivers. This eliminates a time-consuming and costly step while increasing trust in the database by giving more power to individual users.
Information stored in the blockchain is impossible to alter, by the very nature of blockchain itself. First, transactions stored on blockchain networks tend to be hashed and encrypted, hiding details from prying eyes. More importantly, blocks must maintain consensus, so if one block is fraudulently altered, the verification process with the other blocks will reject and revert the change.
Because blockchain tech involves no centralized control, anyone can access and utilize the information stored within a blockchain. Plus, decentralization makes hacking a blockchain all but impossible as cybercriminals would need to infiltrate and alter information stored on every device connected to the network.
Blockchain supporters believe that these attributes of blockchain could have wide-ranging effects on society, should the technology be widely adopted. They suggest that blockchain could provide full transparency into corporate and government activity, end corruption, increase individual privacy and offer other idealistic developments. It isn’t uncommon to see recommendations from such sources to use blockchain for critical activities like voting, distributing government benefits, securing medical information and more.
More realistically, blockchain could improve business performance in a variety of ways. Blockchain could be essential for tracking money transfers and other financial exchanges, managing business lending and insurance and securing customer information and other sensitive data. Yet, do businesses have any interest in adopting blockchain technology?
The Reality of Blockchain Adoption
Already, blockchain is well-integrated into the tech practices of most major corporations. Tech giants like Microsoft and Alphabet as well as retail leaders like Walmart and Amazon have sunk significant resources into adopting blockchain. In fact, of 81 of 100 top companies surveyed, over 80 percent have already built blockchain into their system infrastructure. As large corporations go, so too go medium-sized and small businesses — indicating strongly that blockchain technology is not merely a fad but a remarkably robust tool that is here to stay.
Business leaders interested in introducing blockchain into their operations can enroll in a high-level blockchain technologies course designed to help those within business better understand the tech and its applications. Blockchain is a remarkably adaptable technology that can be applied to various processes to great effect. Some popular uses for blockchain in industry include:
- Smart contracts. Contracts hosted on blockchain networks are accessible by all parties but impervious to one-sided changes. What’s more, smart contracts can leverage automated computer programs that carry out the contract terms.
- Supply chain management. Large and complex supply chains benefit from blockchain, which helps coordinate various suppliers and tracks shipments of individual components.
- Secure networking. The blockchain keeps information up-to-date regardless of where it is located around the world, allowing remote workers and satellite offices to tap into corporate data. What’s more, blockchain is inherently secure, so businesses need not fear massive and costly data breaches while using blockchain.
Very possibly, blockchain could change the world. However, it is more likely that blockchain will improve business productivity radically, changing the day-to-day experience of workers.
Working as a cyber security solutions architect, Alisa focuses on application and network security. Before joining us she held a cyber security researcher positions within a variety of cyber security start-ups. She also experience in different industry domains like finance, healthcare and consumer products.