Blockchain explained

Building a framework for business networks anchored by blockchain

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office collaborationIn consumer computing, most of the apps we use are platforms and marketplaces. From Amazon to Airbnb to Uber to App stores, we are surrounded by platform technologies. However, businesses have only recently started to realize the potential of using platforms to optimize and reduce friction in trade.

Trust is paramount in building business networks and blockchain technologies provide building blocks that enable trust and transparency for all participants. While technology choices are important, it is equally important to understand the business, operational and legal aspects of building and operating business networks.

We want to outline these key considerations for building effective business networks across four dimensions: business, operations, legal and technology (BOLT). To be successful, we find business platforms must focus on all four dimensions from the early stages of development.

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1. Business: Articulate and actualize value for all stake holders

The business value expected out of the network must be clearly understood and articulated for all stakeholders. It starts with network intent, ownership and participants. Network intent will determine if it’s an intra-company or inter-company platform or industry marketplace and will help determine participants in the network. It is equally important to answer the “what’s in it for me” question for all participants. Clear articulation of value for all stakeholders will help to accelerate adoption by participants.

2. Operational: Define and build for operational efficiencies

This is all about the governance model once the network has gone live. It is important to understand, document, and operationalize all aspects of running a production network in terms of business and technical governance. Some areas to focus are the network operating model, member onboarding and offboarding, service management, backup and recovery, KPIs, business and technical scalability, release management, and others.

3. Legal: Design early for compliance and regulatory needs

Given the globalized nature of businesses these days, network builders must take into account legal, regulatory, compliance, data privacy (GDPR for example) and the data residency requirements of all countries in which they are planning to operate. Many network builders fail to focus on the legal aspects early in the development cycle leading to expensive retrofits later in the journey.

4. Technology: Architect and build for growth

The focus here is all about leveraging appropriate technologies to architect and build solutions that meet current and future requirements. It starts with key technology decisions like choice of blockchain platform, API and App layer technologies, and architecting a scalable solution. The network components like node configurations, endorsement policy, smart contract framework, asset life-cycle management, security considerations, external system integrations, identity and access management, data privacy, deployment model, and non-functional consideration are the key to a robust business network solution.

More and more business computing is moving to a platform-centric model. To build successful platforms, enterprises must design and build systems that take BOLT — business, operational, legal and technology — considerations right from the beginning.

We will take a deeper dive into these for dimensions of BOLT in the future, so keep an eye out for more posts. Contact us any time for more information and to continue the discussion.

How to get started with IBM Blockchain now

Executive IT Architect working in IBM Blockchain Services

Ram Viswanathan

IBM Fellow, CTO - IBM Blockchain Services

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