Blockchain Explained

Trick or treat? Use blockchain to purge your business of horrors

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It’s Halloween and you’re encountering more tricks than treats for your business this year. One of your suppliers just tried to sell you counterfeit materials, and now you can’t meet demand for your product. Either an employee is terrible at their job or someone is committing fraud because there are numerous errors in your transaction records. To top it all off, payments from your buyers havn’t cleared yet, so you’re running out of available funds. Realistically, you probably don’t have these exact problems, but you’re at least dealing with something similar. What if I told you that blockchain can help you purge your business of horrors such as these?

Young blockchain

Blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that permanently records the history of transactions among participants in a business network. Transaction records, called blocks, must be agreed upon through consensus before they can be added to the blockchain. Each approved transaction is encrypted and linked to the previous transaction, creating a permanent, immutable record.

Blockchain initially appeared as the technology that underpins Bitcoin, a decentralized digital cryptocurrency. Realizing the potential benefits of blockchain, business leaders soon began experimenting with ways to use the technology in other industries. Countless blockchain projects and proofs of concept have already been completed, and several blockchain networks have already gone into production.

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The blockchain family

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky… You often have to work with near strangers in your business network, and you don’t know that much about them. How can you be sure they won’t stab you in the back or lock you in the dungeon? Trust. Unfortunately, lack of trust is a major issue in business that prevents transactions from being settled in a timely manner.

Blockchain provides the means for increased trust in business relationships. Participants of a blockchain network can be certain of where assets are coming from because their transaction history is recorded on the blockchain and it’s recorded in a way that is transparent and cannot be altered. And because blockchain is shared and distributed, each participant can have control but nobody is in control.

The nightmare before blockchain

Aside from not trusting their business associates, business leaders must handle all kinds of horrors in day-to-day operations. Fraud, waste, shortage, privacy abuse, redundancy — and that’s just to name a few of the issues. Scattered legacy systems, limited resources and manual, paper-heavy processes contribute to errors, inefficiency and vulnerability. Unfortunately, even though traditional processes may be outdated and complex, they persist because everyone is familiar with them.

Intrepid trailblazers, studied in a series of reports from the IBM Institute of Business Value, are working to change the status quo. While they realize blockchain is not a catch-all solution, it has the potential to reduce business frictions by changing how businesses transact, creating new business models and reducing the time, cost and risk of transactions.

You’ve got a date with a blockchain

Like a blind date, blockchain is viewed as both opportunity and threat. You could transform your business or you could get bit by a vampire. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prepare so you can determine whether starting or joining a blockchain network is the right solution for your needs. Join an IBM Blockchain Workshop to gain a deeper understanding of the technology, develop your team’s skills, and receive expert guidance on your path to a production network.

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