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How can Blockchain Create Greater Trust for the Enterprise?

11 Dec 2018

Blog

In this second exert from our latest White Paper: Why Emerging Technologies Really Matter, TV Tech Guru David McClelland and OCSL (A CANCOM Company)’s Enterprise Architect, Jason Normanton discuss the potential use cases for Blockchain and its potential to create greater trust for the Enterprise.

David McClelland

Blockchain makes data trustworthy; but can you trust blockchain?

Blockchain will do for transactions what the Internet did for information, creating an open, scalable and secure environment for organisations to do business and drive innovation

Blockchain is of interest primarily because it claims to address some of the key challenges faced by many organisations today. One of those challenges is trust.

With data-driven decision making heralded as a critical trait for successful businesses in a competitive landscape, the veracity of the data being processed is of paramount importance.

However, the adage still speaks truth: garbage in, garbage out.

If we cannot trust the data upon which mission-critical decisions are being based – either its integrity or its provenance – then we cannot trust the resultant actions and decisions.

This poses a real barrier to trust in and adoption of automation initiatives which seek to leverage machine learning or artificial intelligence. In principle, Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies provide a platform upon which trust in data can be established.

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The reason that cryptocurrencies sit so comfortably on a blockchain is because of the inherent resilience, immutable ledger and operational robustness.

Facilitating inter-organisation collaboration is another challenge addressed by blockchain technologies: building on the distributed network of nodes, data (customer records or payments, for example) can be accessed and shared between partners along a supply chain, driving efficiencies of time, cost and trust.

It still feels like very early days for blockchain technologies.

Ironically, organisations are still deciding whether they can trust blockchain technologies. They are waiting on competitors to experiment and learn lessons.

Cast-iron case studies and success stories will no doubt help further adoption.

Blockchain Trust

Jason Normanton

Blockchain: don’t let it be misunderstood

Blockchain is one of the most misunderstood technologies. And this is largely because of the Bitcoin. Built on a relatively early form of a blockchain implementation, the recent Bitcoin “bubble” has dominated headlines.

Understanding blockchain

Bitcoin hype aside, what is blockchain and what’s its potential for organisations across different sectors? The essence of a blockchain implementation is simply a distributed ledger technology. This is where each entry or transaction within the ledger is held on multiple separate instances which are replicated and kept in sync with each other. Because the ledger is held on multiple instances, often publicly accessible, it provides a level of trust and information assurance simply by it being distributed.

Blockgeeks provide the following analogy for how blockchain works “Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.”

Because all transactions are constantly reconciled into the distributed database, stored in multiple locations and updated instantly, records are public and verifiable.

Data is not held in a single central location - as is the case with traditional ERP ledgers – so it’s harder to hack. Information exists simultaneously in millions of systems, owned by multiple separate entities.

Is Blockchain hacker proof?

Wherever information needs to be shared between multiple disparate entities, Blockchain provides a neat reliable solution. When rolled out as intended, a blockchain dataset is encrypted, impossible to alter, and nearly hacker-proof.

The latter part is critical: because the data is distributed between the peers, hacking a blockchain is a monumentally complex task, requiring massive computing power.

Current thought suggests that it would take the next-evolution computing technology, quantum computing, to accomplish a blockchain hack.

Blockchain Use Cases in the Enterprise

Blockchain can provide a permanent storage for data, immune to hacking, while allowing a fully transparent traceable ledger of transactions. Useful where data quality and integrity must be proved.

For example, any company manufacturing goods under ISO 9001 quality standards must prove and trace the provenance of each item within their supply chain from raw materials through to the product.

By implementing a blockchain ledger across the entire supply chain, shared and updateable by all parties, an auditor could use the blockchain entries to track product materials and build process from “cradle to grave”. And if anyone tampers with the data at any stage it will be easily identifiable. This approach might prove to be invaluable within highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, aviation, nuclear and insurance.

blockchain_use_cases

Source: Interchain.io - Blockchain real world use cases

As a hyper-connected world becomes a reality, it’s critical now, more than ever, to view technologies as part of a connected whole to achieve the greatest value.

New enabling platforms such as Azure, can help companies start to harness the power of emerging technologies, much faster.

OCSL (A CANCOM Company) uses experience and best practice to help you reduce risk and quickly start delivering value with best of breed consultancy.

CANCOM Editor

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