The excitement and novelty of blockchain has many businesses wondering how they can grab ahold of this innovative new technology. Just as the early adopters of the internet in the late 1990s took a rewarding leap into the future, so are those forward-thinking businesses that are working to integrate blockchain into their operations.
There is a question that remains for some, “Is blockchain the right fit for this business?” Whether operating a large-scale corporation or a small start-up, blockchain has many applications that can be benefit your business or institution. The use of blockchain can save both employers and employees time and money with the ability to record and store information on a decentralized network and to remove intermediaries in essential transactions.
In the last Peer Ledger blog we broke down the buzz on bitcoin, discussing what blockchain really is. Blockchain works as a distributed ledger to digitally record transactions on multiple networks. In this article we outline the operations that blockchain supports and five ways to apply the technology to your work.
Characteristics of blockchain friendly businesses
Blockchain can be applied to improve accuracy and efficiency in industries with any of the following characteristics:
Shared Data: Does your business or institution rely on shared data? Moreover, does this information require high accuracy and protection of privacy? Blockchain can be used to record data on a shared network with the protection of encryption and immutability. Once data is digitally recorded using blockchain, it is secure and can not be accessed or changed without the consent of multiple administrators.
The use of blockchain in the healthcare industry to store patient and research data is on the rise with the vision of nationwide and worldwide health data-sharing networks.
Multiple writers: Does your business or institution rely on multiple “writers” or individuals that record/input information on a digital platform? In today’s business world, employers, employees and stakeholders are spread over a wide range of physical locations. Coordinating access to the same information and digital platforms is essential to having business run smoothly. Blockchain technology does just that and equalizes this access through a “distributed ledger” feature. As information is recorded, multiple writers “accept” that the information is accurate as it matches with the records of others in the network.
This is useful in industries where financial transactions are spread over multiple geographies; where processing and paperwork at a central location can take significant time and resources.
Absence of Trust: Does your business or institution operate in an industry that requires explicit trust from buyers and stakeholders? Consumers of today are concerned with the ethics behind the products they purchase. This means greater accountability is expected from brands that source materials and labour from multiple locations around the world. How can a high standard of procedure be upheld when product supply chains require many contributors to add value at each stage? Blockchain can contribute to building trust between businesses and society by allowing materials and transactions to be tracked, traced and verified in the supply chain.
The “distributed ledger” feature prevents fraudulent transactions from taking place and forged information from being recorded. Encryption keeps important transactional information secure. Declaring products fair-trade or conflict free is much easier with blockchain.
Transcription dependency: Does your business or institution rely on the transcription of important records, master documents or reports that should be made available to stakeholders or the public? For instance, tax reporting and financial document disclosure can be done through blockchain in a digital format that is highly secure and fraud-resistant. The cost of auditing is also greatly reduced. Businesses and charitable organizations alike can benefit from this use of blockchain.
Opportunity for Disintermediation: Does your business currently rely on intermediary institutions to process essential transactions? As mentioned previously, blockchain can help reduce the use of intermediaries between producers and consumers. For instance, consumers may invest directly in your business through the use of a cryptocurrency rather than indirectly through a bank.
Additional uses for blockchain in your business:
These uses for blockchain identified by The Economist are helpful to keep in mind.
- Smart contracts: Allows for the automatic release of funds or assets based on preprogrammed conditions without downtime, censorship, fraud or interference from a third party, decreasing costs associated with common financial transactions.
- Cloud storage: Blockchain technology has the potential to store up to 200% more data than the average computer hard drive.
- Supply chain storage: Data from supply chain transactions is recorded and maintained on a shared network. This information is digitally permanent and “auditable”.
- Paying employees: Employees can be paid directly without the use of an intermediate financial institution through the use of cryptocurrency.
- Electronic voting: Blockchain can assist in automated voting procedures with the secure storage and sharing of data.
Peer Ledger is working to develop blockchain products and services that cater to a range of business needs, with affordability in mind. Now is the time to discover how blockchain can take your business to the next level and prepare your operations for the future.