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Determining Where Distributed Ledgers Fit With Blockchain U Online

“If you think of it the same way you always have thought about business applications, you’ll never get blockchain [technology],” said Paul Tatro, who offers certification training at Blockchain U Online. “You have to start with the core benefits of blockchains, which include capabilities that no other technology has provided before.”

First established in 2009 as the foundation for Bitcoin, blockchain technology offers a unique approach to data recording and management. Tatro cited four essential deliverables that blockchain technology can offer businesses:

  1. Consensus: Blockchains record transactions on a distributed ledger that is shared across multiple nodes.
  2. Provenance: “In a traditional database, someone can delete or edit data once it is logged,” Tatro said. “With blockchain technology, it is virtually impossible to change entries, even through devious methods.”
  3. Immutability: Blockchain-based ledger entries are made by consensus among network nodes and recorded in cryptography, using a hash for each data block and a second hash that connects the new block to the one before it. In business settings, organizations can use blockchains to create tamper-proof records in which all parties involved can trust as a single version of the truth.
  4. Trustlessness: Blockchain technology’s unique strengths eliminate the need for trust in the transaction cycle, which explains why the technology can support currency. In a blockchain, the network itself provides the certainty that satisfies trust requirements.

Many players in many industries have begun exploring these advantages to determine how blockchain technology can benefit their business. As they discover the power that the technology has to help them, many businesses grow the network that utilizes these blockchain applications.

“Organizations are making [blockchain technology] work in shipping and provenance applications by getting a number of different companies together on a private blockchain,” Tatro said. “You see alliances — one for banking, one for healthcare — because the bigger the network gets, the more benefit you get from having a blockchain environment.”

Processes Get Faster

Beyond the transparency and security advantages, businesses can achieve tremendous efficiency gains by having a distributed ledger, according to Tatro.

“Companies don’t have to worry about what information is going in their books regarding a shipment of goods, because the same information is recorded in one place at one time for all parties,” he said. “A lot of work goes away, and there is more consistency in the timing. You don’t need to collect 17 signatures to get out of port. There is a monorail for all the information.”

Many businesses are beginning to ask whether blockchain technology would benefit their operations. Tatro offered a four-point checklist to help evaluate blockchain’s applicability to a given business process:

  1. Do you need a network effect to bring multiple business units or organizations together over one ledger that provides a single version of the truth?
  2. Do you need to disintermediate a third party that is adding cost or time to your business processes?
  3. Can you benefit from tokenizing hard assets and passing tokens as the assets move? For example, the airline industry can tokenize each of the components that goes into an aircraft to maintain provenance. Parties in a supply chain can tokenize items to track and time stamp every handoff that carries important information, such as the temperature inside a storage container.
  4. Do you need a confidential system that can be solved by tokenizing information and storing it off the chain? Tokenization can replace sensitive information by representing it in the form of a hash that allows for proof or attestation without the exposure of sensitive data.

If a business sees potential benefits, they can broaden their understanding by doing research, taking a course and/or hiring a consultant, Tatro added. 

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