These days, even living under a rock might not be enough to avoid hearing about blockchain. The technology behind cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, blockchain is being hailed by tech experts as everything from a useful tool for tracking assets to the inevitable replacement for the internet.
Blockchain seems to be an exciting tech opportunity for businesses - buy why? Here are a few ways business leaders can utilize blockchain to make their organizations faster, safer and smarter than other businesses.
The Benefits of Blockchain
In truth, the full scope of applications for blockchain technology is not well understood because the tech is relatively new. Though plenty of tech experts have experimented with blockchain, business leaders in other industries are only just beginning to consider how they might integrate blockchain into their existing systems and structures. As blockchain spreads, business leaders will undoubtedly discover more applications for the tech. To speed such innovation, leaders might spend time on an online blockchain course from a leading university, so they can learn how to apply blockchain to their business and better understand the tech and its benefits, which include:
Consensus: Blockchain ledgers are shared, and updates only occur when relevant participants validate the change. No one can shift values in a ledger without consent.
Replication: Once a record within a ledger receives approval, every member of that blockchain channel receives a copy of the record. As a result, everyone sharing a ledger can be certain of the information available.
Immutability: Blockchain ledgers can be added to, but existing records cannot be altered or removed. Thus, the group has access to a permanent record, which can increase trust amongst those using it.
Security: Blockchain ledgers are generally not accessible to anyone but permitted partners, who are the only ones allowed to create and access records on that channel. What's more, blockchain ledgers are not stored on an individual server; instead, distributed across user devices, so it is all but impossible to hack.
Given these benefits, experts have identified at least the following three uses for blockchain in business:
1. Share Records
In some industries, the accuracy and accessibility of records is vital to success. Because blockchain technology is replicated, immutable and secure, blockchain records allow users to rely on their shared records. This keeps all parties informed of important information, especially if that information is liable to shift.
For example, in healthcare, providers need to be able to review and trust electronic health records (EHR) for their patients to make effective treatment decisions. Eliminating communication issues between providers could seriously reduce the number of patient deaths due to medical errors. Plus, current EHR systems are vulnerable to manipulation and theft. Blockchain technology could revolutionize healthcare record-keeping and improve outcomes across the industry.
2. Improve Supply Chain Management
The global supply chain is remarkably complex. To produce a single product, some supply chain managers must coordinate the assembly of dozens of components from around the world. When supply chain managers make mistakes, they might subject their company to illegal or unethical manufacturing practices or lose track of valuable parts or products.
Blockchain technology radically improves supply chain management. Ledgers can be used to access supplier records, information about insurers and government agencies, verifications, product tracking, party agreements and secure payments. Because blockchain requires consensus and is secure, it serves to eliminate disputes within the supply chain, speeding up manufacturing and transportation. Mega-corporations like Walmart already use blockchain systems within their supply chains, but smaller businesses can benefit from supply blockchain too.
3. Streamline Accounting
The global economy suffers losses of $5 trillion every year as a result of fraud. Businesses have a vested interest in any technology that can reduce their exposure to fraud - and blockchain is one of the most obvious tools to help an accounting team prevent fraud.
All four of blockchain's benefits work together to help businesses thwart fraud. The restricted permissions of blockchain records, the distributed nature of ledgers, the consensus required for changes and more prevent a single bad actor from altering accounting ledgers in a duplicitous way. What's more, because every transaction is noted in the ledger, anyone's attempt at theft will be recorded for other members of the group to see. Thus, accounting departments can keep their books free of nefarious activity without expending undue resources to keep them safe.
Blockchain is an exciting new technology, and in many businesses, its potential is yet untapped. The sooner leaders learn how to innovate using blockchain, the sooner they can apply the tech and see their businesses thrive.