Even though it has been available for several years, blockchain technology is still a mystery to many business people. It is best known as the distributed database technology at the heart of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It is hardened against tampering, preventing even its operators from revising or otherwise meddling with its continuously growing list of records.
Fundamentally, a blockchain consists of a circle of trusted partners who do business regularly and already have been vetted for security purposes.
In Bitcoin's case, it serves as its public ledger of transactions. Fintech (financial technology) companies and other security-conscious enterprises are keeping a close eye on the technology, hoping blockchain will usher in an era of automated, efficient and fraud-free record-keeping and transaction systems.
“Blockchain holds the promise to fundamentally transform how business is done, making business-to-business interactions more secure, transparent, and efficient,” Amit Zavery, Senior Vice President of the Oracle Cloud Platform, told eWEEK after his company launched a cloud-based blockchain service earlier this year. “Enterprises can now streamline operations across their ecosystem and expand their market reach with new revenue streams, sharing data and transacting within and outside the Oracle Cloud.”
Blockchain is here and now, and it will continue to gain traction as it provides transparency to the supply chain–especially in complex supply chain industries, such as the automotive and retail industries. Blockchain securely grants access to all transactions that are taking place across the entire ecosystem.
Here are some predictions from industry leaders on the impact of blockchain in 2018.
John Engates, Chief Evangelist, Rackspace: Blockchain will move beyond cryptocurrency.
“If you say ‘blockchain’ to most people, they immediately think Bitcoin—and still have no idea what it is. And while blockchain is the foundation for cryptocurrencies (digital assets that act as mediums of exchange using cryptography to secure transactions), it’s actually a much broader way to structure, store and secure data.
“When used as a ‘distributed ledger,’ blockchain consists of concatenated blocks of data or transactions across a network of computers with no central authority. It allows the sharing of that distributed ledger across clouds and even across companies, without giving a single party the power to tamper with it—and that has powerful implications, if information about the provenance of goods, identity, credentials and digital rights can be securely stored and shared.
“One of my favorite examples of a non-financial blockchain use comes from Provenance, a UK-based software company, which successfully piloted the use of blockchain and smart tagging to track tuna from catch to consumer, allowing for verifiable social sustainability claims, among other benefits.
“So while cryptocurrency isn’t necessarily the future, it looks as though blockchain may be.”
Tom Kemp, CEO of Centrify: Blockchain will emerge as a potential disruptor across many areas of technology.
“Blockchain technology has started making serious waves--and not just in the world of cryptocurrencies. Even U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin seems to be exploring blockchain-related cybersecurity options. While we expect blockchain to emerge as a potential disruptor across many areas of technology in 2018, it will take several years before vulnerabilities can be addressed and the technology is considered mature enough to act as a basis for enterprise security.”
Atif Kureishy: Global VP, Emerging Practices, Teradata: Blockchain will be the most overused and misunderstood term in 2018.
“As much as the term bitcoin is bantered about, most people don’t have a clue what it really is, or understand the role of a blockchain in the secure tracking/ledgering of bitcoin transactions. But, a blockchain can be used for so much more than this. This conversation will continue and there will be a lot of hype about blockchains in 2018. Unfortunately, many people will only associate blockchain with bitcoin and will continue to be generally confused.”
Peter Loop, Associate Vice President and Senior Principal Technology Architect, Infosys:
- "The adoption of blockchain will continue at an even faster pace in 2018. This is a worldwide phenomenon and early production successes will come to light, most likely in the Middle East and Asia."
- "With the rise of ransomware attacks demanding cryptocurrencies, blockchain and IoT cybersecurity will emerge with defenses based on cryptocurrency technologies."
- "Blockchain will drive digital transformation of the enterprise specifically with automation, digitization of processes, tokenization of physical assets and activities and codification of complex contracts."
- "The insurance sector will emerge as a hot area for blockchain technologies. Claims processing and complex multi-party processes like subrogation will show the business value of blockchain based automation."
- "With major breaches such as Equifax proving that you cannot safeguard current identity data systems, the need for a more secure blockchain based identity approach, where no one holds all the keys, will emerge."
- "JPMorgan will open a cryptocurrency trading desk, despite Jamie Dimon's "fire in a second" comments to any JPMorgan trader who was trading bitcoin."
- "Governance issues will continue to plague Bitcoin (Segwit2x), Etherium (Frozen Parity Funds) and others as new challenges emerge. This will drive enterprises to "private" blockchains but will not slow down the growth of core cryptocurrencies."
Rohit Adlakha, VP of Wipro HOLMES: Enterprises will start investing in blockchain.
“Blockchain is more than Bitcoin and Ethereum, and its influence has only begun. The cool thing next year for CEOs, CTOs and CIOs will be bragging about how much their company has invested in blockchain, and what new apps/products they’re launching next.
“The next application of blockchain will be hyperledgers: Blockchain’s ability to force transparency and security across every transaction will radically alter any industry that requires a transfer of assets or information based on trust, while reducing friction and costs. In 2018, one of biggest use cases for blockchain will be the launch of hyperledgers for securing and authenticating documents better than traditional methods.”
Maciej Kranz, VP at Cisco Systems: IoT devices will converge with machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI), fog computing and blockchain technologies.
“This will help companies move from IoT initiatives that merely produce incremental gains, to those that create entirely new business models and revenue streams. This will allow companies to obtain greater value from their IoT investments and drive broader adoption.”
Bill Briggs, CTO and principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP: Blockchain to Blockchains: “Blockchain is moving rapidly from exploration into mission-critical production scenarios. Advanced use cases and increased adoption drives the need to coordinate, integrate, and orchestrate multiple blockchain initiatives within a large organization, potentially across multiple blockchains across a value chain.”
Sandy Steier, CEO of 1010data: Blockchain will enable new data analytics use cases.
“The use of blockchain in a variety of applications across multiple industries will enable new data analytics–with high accuracy, privacy and identity protection–that provide significant value to both businesses and individuals. For example, in the finance and real estate industries, analytics around the mortgage approval process could be greatly streamlined. Borrowers could elect to share accurate personal income and expense metrics with lenders via a blockchain, bypassing the tortuous, expensive, fraud, error-prone and time consuming manual process of collecting paystubs, bank statements and other paper documents. With anonymity sufficiently ensured, these metrics could also be made available for aggregate analysis that would deliver insights enabling greater efficiencies in the lending process, including far more accurate prediction of creditworthiness. Other powerful possibilities exist in health and wellness, pharma, life sciences, finance, and additional sectors.”
Brian Shannon, Chief Strategy Officer, Dolphin Enterprise Solutions Corp.: Transparency and secure access happens with blockchain.
“Blockchain is here and now, and it will continue to gain traction as it provides transparency to the supply chain – especially in complex supply chain industries, such as the automotive and retail industries. Blockchain securely grants access to all transactions that are taking place across the entire ecosystem. We used to think of blockchain within the context of the banking industry, yet the technology is rapidly gaining traction in the automotive and retail world. Blockchain-ready transactions is a concept we will talk more about in 2018.”
IDC Research: Be ready to face the realities behind the blockchain hype.
“2018 will be the year CIOs will exploit the potential of blockchain technology. While there will be steady improvement and a few breakthroughs, don’t expect a major leap in technology maturity in 2018. In addition, CIOs, CISOs will pay greater attention to blockchain security, and blockchain will start to transform fraud management and identity verification. Banking processes will also see heterogeneous blockchain adoption in 2018.”
Balakrishnan Dasarathy, professor at University of Maryland University College Graduate School: The adoption of blockchain technology will impact cybersecurity big time.
“One area in the application space—blockchain—is going to explode in 2018 and beyond. Blockchain is the technology that supports the use of vast distributed ledgers to record any transaction and track the movement of any asset, whether tangible, intangible, or digital and open to anyone.
“Blockchain technology’s disruptive aspect is its potential to eliminate intermediaries, such as government agencies, banks, clearing houses and companies like Uber, Airbnb and eBay. Blockchain provides these and other companies a measure of speed and cost savings when executing transactions. The blockchain shared, distributed and replicated ledger allows transacting parties to directly update the shared ledger for every transaction. Since parties interact directly through the shared ledger, they have to trust each other, and the transaction records in the shared ledgers should be visible only to the right parties. As such, cybersecurity technologies, specifically cryptography and access control, are critical enabling technologies for blockchain.”
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