Since 2015, we’ve had the opportunity to work with several customers across the globe spanning across different verticals to solve their business problem using blockchain. During our experience working with our customers, we started to build a framework that can be customized to build better blockchain based solutions. The framework is the process we follow to evaluate, ideate and execute a proof of concept for enterprise blockchains in the shortest and the best way possible.
Turns out that spending time to analyze the real need for blockchain for a business problem before you start architecting works out better for both the customer and us. Let me walk you through some of the things we do during our blockchain evaluation workshops to drive enterprise blockchain adoption.
Understanding blockchain first;#
We’ve been hearing these questions very often from some of the stakeholders in the industry about blockchain:
- Bitcoin is blockchain right?
- Should I jump right in and do a ICO?
- Is blockchain a glorified database with proper sharding?
- Can we allow the users to mine the data across organizations?
- Blockchain is a framework that we need to download and customize, right?
This pushes us to first help people understand what blockchain is, and what type of problems it can solve in any business. While there are a ton of resources available online for you to learn about blockchain, at the end of watching/reading those resources, you tend to still stay confused about the concept of blockchain and why the technology industry is excited about it.
One good way to learn about blockchain is to have some context to what you are learning it for. For example, during our first few interactions, our team prepares extensively to explain blockchain with use-cases pertaining to the customer’s industry. This gives them adequate context and also a good understanding of what the technology could possibly do to their enterprise.
When to use blockchain for enterprise?#
Blockchain is not just another technology that can go up in your organization just like that. Blockchain, is most of the cases, is a technology that fundamentally shifts the way you work.
Since blockchain offers really good security, and is distributed, it doesn’t mean that blockchain would fit all the business use-cases. The technology has its own limitations.
Blockchain, is most of the cases, is a technology that fundamentally shifts the way you work.
Blockchain can fit perfectly for use-cases that involves shared ownership or processes involving multiple parties in your business. Especially for businesses dealing with industries like finance, manufacturing, healthcare, or retail.
A decision to make use of blockchain should relay on its core technological strength, rather than the features that can be built on top of the technology. We realized that there are a few major questions that you might have to answer before you make the decision. I’m listing the questions for you in the sections below (scroll to see them please).
But first, let me talk about the capabilities that blockchain offers you.
What is blockchain capable of really?#
As I mentioned earlier, blockchain is a technology that demands a fundamental shift in the way business works, and is not just another technology. The adoption has been tremendous over the past two years, and we’re incredibly thrilled to be delivering some of the best quality products based on blockchain to our enterprise customers across the world.
For the context of this article, I will divide the capabilities of blockchain into four major sections:
Security; Blockchain’s ability to utilize some of the most complex cryptographic techniques to protect the transactions that are happening in the blockchain network.
Distributed; Since blockchain network are spread across multiple organization and nodes, the network becomes more secure as replicas are added.
Sharing; Allowing other companies to have transparent data exchange in a very secured way is something that’s unique to blockchain.
Immutable; What goes into blockchain, stays with blockchain forever. Since blockchain does not allow anyone to tamper data (which is protected by Smart Contracts), the information that is
Critical questions to be answered before developing blockchain solution#
If we boil down to the core of any decision making to implement blockchain, it comes down to these four questions that needs answers:
- Do you have data that needs to be shared with other parties?
- Do people/machine require data verification during your business process?
- Are there too many intermediaries who are involved in your business process currently?
- The data that you transact are to be preserved for audit in the future?
By the time you answer these four questions that aligns with your business process, you will get some clarity on blockchain’s involvement in your business.
Choosing the type of blockchain for your company#
There are only two possible variations of blockchain, based on the business problem you are trying to solve. And they are:
- Private blockchain
- Public blockchain
Private blockchain are enterprise grade blockchains, where data and the network is controlled or restricted to certain parties. The data is shared with known parties and not with any random stranger.
Public blockchains are open for anyone to mine the data that is available in the network.
Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Sawtooth, and R3 Corda are some of the private blockchain frameworks that can help us build a blockchain based product faster than ever before.
Smart Contract development for private blockchain is also easy with these frameworks and reach out to us if you are looking to build one. Also, in a private blockchain,
- Everyone knows everyone in the network. So there is no anonymity in the ID of a entity in a network.
- Permissions are role-based and requires a key to sign off their commits. Ex. TruCerts.
Potential impact of blockchain in industries#
Industries currently using blockchain to improve their business process are increasing as we speak. The major reasons why industries are considering blockchain are:
- Reduce dependency on intermediaries, which ultimately increases efficiency and speed of the business process.
- Reduces costs of operations with the help of automated consensus mechanism.
- New business models and processes that sets the path for the future.
We truly wanted to get to the bottom of industries who can exploit a technology like blockchain, and here’s the list:
- Blockchain for Finance industry (Banking & Capital Markets)
- Blockchain for Manufacturing industry (Supply chain and ID verification)
- Blockchain for Aviation industry (MRO tracking)
- Blockchain for Healthcare industry
- Blockchain for Insurance industry
While these are the industries who are ready to adopt blockchain, the future holds for all these industries to work in sync with each other to share authentic data.
Common business use-cases of blockchain#
In the past 2 years, we were able to acquire adequate use-case research data to arrive at the following use-cases across industries using blockchain:
- Know Your Customer
- Asset Transfer
- Supply Chain Management
- Trade Finance
- Supply Chain for Financing
- Food Transportation
- Global Payments & Transactions
With these blockchain business patterns, we were able to help our customers learn how blockchain can provide operational efficiency by reducing intermediaries and improving trust in the system.
What is the next step?#