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While the sessions surrounding blockchain at World of Watson were as varied as the industries blockchain applies to, one thing was clear: the demand for information surrounding this emerging technology is rampant.
Whether these sessions interfered with the lunch hour or even surrounding keynotes, each one was standing room only, overflowing with attendees fascinated with learning more about the technology and the implications for their industry.
The focus of Day One revolved around the relationship and implications of this technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), security concerns around blockchain and recommendations for creating an optimal blockchain use case.
Blockchain & Watson Internet of Things: A powerful union
To kick off the conference, James Murphy, Offering Manager for Watson IoT, and Jeff Achtermnann, Software Architect, IoT, helped us understand and navigate the integration of the Watson IoT Platform and blockchain technologies. The Watson IoT Platform has a built-in capability that enables you to add selected IoT data to private blockchain networks and transactions. Since it is a permissioned network, the data is only shared among the business partners involved with the transaction, ensuring security and trust throughout the network.
Some examples of key IoT use cases include:
- Shipping/Logistics – Monitoring shipping logistics, sharing shipping documents
- Part Lifecycle Tracking & Maintenance – Tracking part provenance from manufacturer to end of life
- Supply Chain – broadcast supply and demand, track part location and manufacturing information
- Regulatory Compliance – share documents with a regulatory agency and/or the public
- Building Management – create a permanent record of building access and usage
- Energy – track and trade carbon credits
As the Internet of Things continues to grow at a rapid rate, sensors and devices are becoming more commonplace as a way to communicate information about the status of assets. Leveraging blockchain for your IoT data opens up new ways of automating business processes among your partners without setting up a centralized IT infrastructure.
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Cryptography: securing the blockchain network
Over the lunch hour, Jennifer Foley, Client Technical Architect and Vlad Paprotski, Just-in-Time Developer, took us through the tech landscape & the intricacies of how the cryptography works on a blockchain. On a permissioned network, participants want transactions to be private and linked to their identity, but those same transactions needs to be authenticated in some way. Cryptography is the technology that enables this to occur by storing and transmitting data in such a way that only those for whom that information was intended for can see it.
As IBM developer Vlad would say, “I’m paid to be paranoid.”
Blockchain is a team sport
We also heard from Jerry Cuomo, IBM Fellow & VP Blockchain Technologies, taking us through the nuts and bolts of the application.
From Jerry, “Blockchain is a team sport”. The technology operates best when used across a business network. When forming this network, you may consider things like:
- Who are the members, their roles, and what part will they play in the process of consensus?
- How will the network be formed? Will all parties be involved from the beginning or grown incrementally over time?
- When will new network members be introduced?
These are all critical things to consider before embarking on a blockchain use case.
What many walked away with on the first day at WoW was the knowledge that blockchain is NOW. It is no longer just a cool concept, but rather one that is being put into practice across a variety of industries.
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