blockchain

Blockchain In A Nutshell And Why It Matters In Business

Also referred to as the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), blockchain is the digital asset of organizations that cannot be modified. It can be transparent for several people through decentralization and cryptographic hashing. The blockchain is in a database that gathers the information stored on a system. Databases are designed in a table format for users to retrieve a block or filter specific data quickly. This technology has the potential to disintermediate trust and decentralize any system.

Why does the Blockchain matter?

Businesses apply blockchain to address complex problems associated with digitization and technological advancements. Blockchain is valuable for business, especially when it comes to managing transactions between different entities. A majority of companies today can miss out on opportunities if they waste time on procedural delays, errors, and a fraction of fees that go into intermediaries.

In a nutshell, a blockchain is a chain of blocks that include insightful information. Every block contains records of the data, its transaction, and timestamp. Nevertheless, the simplistic model became the open-standard protocol in preventing data tampering.

To further understand how blockchain works, it is comparable to the distribution of files through Google Docs. In Google’s word processor, users can create a document, edit its content, and share it with a group of people. Instead of directly transferring the document, it gets shared by the host. This process is closely related to blockchain’s decentralized distribution chain that allows approved users to access data all at once. While a user is altering something within the chain, the party can see the changes in real-time. Modifications get recorded in real-time to provide a sense of transparency across members of the organization.

In contrast with a typical database, blockchains gather data in segments. The segmentation of data separates blocks that hold large datasets. Every block has limited capacity, so soon after one fills up, it proceeds to the next block. It then forms a chain of data that makes up the blockchain.

Overall, blockchain is a revolutionary technology that addresses problems with fraudulent activities and cyber threats.

How Blockchain Transforms the Job Market Today

As the technical demand increases, the roles for the blockchain industry continue to grow. Technical skills in blockchain involve extensive knowledge of programming technologies and concepts. Blockchain professionals usually display expertise in object-oriented programming, cryptography, and ledger economics.

Many businesses that focus on digital transformation form IT teams that harness knowledge in the blockchain. The recent COVID-19 pandemic reminded them of this need with the requirement for strategy reform to stay afloat. Instead of relying on conventional practices, they utilized blockchain to increase productivity even though most employees work at home. Blockchain goes hand in hand in maintaining the storage of information that is manageable anytime and anywhere. The decentralized network of data gets bound by a set of computers instead of one server. When the network has multiple owners, hacks and threats are instantly resolvable.

Importance of Blockchain Technology in Business

Companies are taking notice of these business benefits and embracing blockchain technology for its wide-reaching possibilities. From manufacturing to healthcare to supply chain and beyond, blockchain has much to offer.

Reducing Operational Costs

When the network is decentralized, companies can reduce operational costs. They can switch their focus to other processes supporting blockchain technology. This technology includes administrative procedures for maintaining transaction and reconciliation records.

Instead of relying on an intermediary, blockchain lets digital entrepreneurs streamline the procurement of products and transactions. For instance, Walmart applied blockchain technology and minimized its time to locate the sources of products to be placed on their shelves. They reduced the time from 1 week to 2.2 seconds, which brought immense savings.

Provides Transparency

Transparency is vital most, especially in businesses that are in the retail and supply management industry. Digital entrepreneurs can streamline the distribution of goods through blockchain technology. Blockchain eliminates the need for a tedious supply chain focusing o monitoring transactions within the blockchain. The data is stored on the distributed ledger, making it easier to track every supply’s progress. Transparency allows multiple employees to access the blockchain. This transparency is helpful in terms of increasing the measures for security.

The blockchain ledger is the one the keeps a record of the exchange of products. Entrepreneurs are then able to track the source of the product through the audit trail. Apart from streamlining processes, businesses can decrease the chances of falling into fraudulent exchange practices. Blockchain allows you to verify if the traded assets are legitimate before making a transaction. In the healthcare industry, blockchain technology helps the owners detect the supply chain. From the manufacturer to its distributors, hospitals can authenticate medical supplies and goods.

Security

In contrast with the traditional record-keeping systems, blockchain technology is far more secured and safe. Every transaction performed is monitored and encrypted to ensure the safety of the entrepreneurs. The supply chain is expressed in detail, which means you can find the manufacturer and the transactions linked with the products purchased. Once formed, a network of blocks linked together can never get modified. This precaution ensures no one can tamper within the blockchain, making it safe from cyber threats and fraud. Plus, the blockchain’s decentralized nature ensures either party cannot experience any issues when making transactions.

Decentralized data eliminates the risks posed by the conventional centralized record systems. Instead of relying on a sole person to manage the data and system recovery, data blocks get shared between more than one unit. When the blocks of information spread across the organization,  the risks reduce significantly. From two entrepreneurs to a network of parties, all of their data gets encrypted for their privacy and security.

As an example, businesses offer smart contracts via blockchain technology to streamline the deliverables. It ensures that once you finished the tasks they require, the agreement would automatically charge clients for the services. Self-automated programs such as these can protect entrepreneurs against fraud. Plus, you can skip the process of going for an intermediary to file for a dispute if clients didn’t comply.

Blockchain technology is the use of cryptography to link data. It is basically a list of records that is unalterable. Along with this, it is also decentralized meaning it is not in the control of a single entity and is distributed among several entities to divide the power. In order to link the data is linked through a process known as “cryptographic hashing”. It uses a mathematical algorithm to map the data of arbitrary size to a fixed size.

How does the Blockchain work?

The function is one way; it cannot be inverted. A timestamp is also a part that reduces the risk of alteration in the data. No modifications can be made in a single part of the data as the data is linked across the channels. In order for it to be modified or altered, the entire block of data would need to be altered which becomes a daunting task. 

The chain of data contains blocks and each block contains data, a nonce, and a hash. The blocks of data are created using the technique called mining. Mining usually involves solving very complex math problems to identify the nonce that in turn generates a hash. Mining is a very complex process and in order to alter the data, one has to re-mine the data. Due to its decentralized nature, it is not restricted to one device and can be accessed through nodes. This allows for greater flexibility. There are a lot of risks that come with the centralization of data but blockchain uses peer to peer network. The risk is reduced because there is no central point of failure and is divided throughout the different nodes.

Blockchain applications

Blockchain is commonly known for its uses in cryptocurrency and decentralized financial transactions. Though that is one very common application of blockchain services, the applications that it offers are of a wide variety. One of the biggest applications that it offers is the protection of healthcare data.

Since healthcare records are private and require immense protection but at the same time access to relevant authorities, blockchain provides a platform to be used for the safe transfer of data. In the world of finance, blockchain provides a lot of services in what is known as decentralized finance (DeFi). In simple words, it basically is a means of financial transactions between buyers and sellers without any intermediaries in between. 

For businesses that rely heavily on technology and storing data using cloud services, blockchain offers much cheaper alternatives in this aspect. It is estimated that over 22 billion dollars are spent annually on cloud services. These could be reduced dramatically through blockchain. Two different things will be achieved through this; one, it will reduce the costs of data storage for companies and private users, and two, it will generate new revenue streams for average users.

Companies, which have to make payments to employees especially those who are foreign, incur costs in transferring the money through different financial institutions. Due to the presence of numerous intermediaries in the entire process, costs are incurred in making the transactions.

These costs will virtually become non-existent with the use of blockchain technologies. It will not only save money for the company but also the time in making the transaction. International transactions typically have a large number of intermediaries in between which not only makes the entire process costly but also time-consuming and blockchain takes care of both these issues. 

In the insurance world, blockchain offers great services through a process known as “smart contracts”. Through blockchain applications, these contracts can be made and managed in a very transparent manner. The blockchain has the ability to record the claims and the contract and also validates them by the network which leaves no room for any invalid claims as they will be rejected by the blockchain.

Peer-to-peer transactions are available with the current financial systems but some of them have certain limitations like geographical unavailability of the service. These can be mitigated through the use of blockchain which enables not only individuals but businesses to carry out their respective financial activities without being limited by factors like geography. 

Since the blockchain services are not centralized, the advantage it gives businesses is huge in terms of cybersecurity. Hacking has been a threat to all online businesses or any business with some sort of an online presence. Due to the decentralized nature of blockchain, it provides an advantage to businesses in terms of cybersecurity.

End to end encryption is also a feature provided through the use of blockchain. As the world moves towards integrating more and more IoT devices, blockchain services can provide applications to make the transition smoother. It can help in asset tracking by monitoring machinery and parts. This data can be recorded using this method as opposed to the current costly cloud storing methods. 

In the future, it is expected that blockchain will become the standard for transactions, especially in international finance. Along with this, it is expected to improve the processes of companies by not only storing data but also enhancing operations by safely transmitting it to relevant areas for better optimization.

Blockchain even has applications for use by different Governments around the world. Voting can be ensured in an efficient and safe manner through the use of blockchain. The primary concern is voter information, which is taken care of by the high level of security that blockchain, offers for its services. The electoral process can be enhanced by the institutions responsible for it.

The future possibilities that blockchain offers for businesses are endless. It saves both time and money through all industries. From financial transactions to ensure the safety of user identities and from providing transparent contracts to storing data, blockchain offers great applications, which can be utilized by businesses in order to improve their processes. Its applications go well beyond what it is most commonly known for i.e. cryptocurrency. Regulation on the current systems can boost the overall use of these technologies and increase the confidence of both businesses and their users.

Read Next: Blockchain For business, Blockchain Economics, Proof of Work, Proof of Stake, What is A Bitcoin, Steemit Business Model, Decentralized FinanceBlockchain EconomicsBitcoin, Ethereum.  

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"