Blockchain Demystified for Corporate World

Ashish Bansal, Director - Global ERP Technology Operations, GSK PharmaWith 17 years of experience in global IT infrastructure service delivery and operations management, Ashish is driving business development and retention to customer focused success.

Blockchain is one of the most revolutionary tech industry disruptions in the recent past. This emerging technology has a pool of opportunities for corporates, institutions and for technology professionals for business enhancement and paves the way for new job opportunities.Let us understand its origin, application in various domains and how it would change the course of doing business and rendering services across various business niches.

Blockchain to Companies and how is it different from Cryptocurrency
Blockchain was invented by an unknown entity using the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the first cryptocurrency ‘bitcoin’to solve the double spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server like Banks or Governing bodies. The Blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks that are linked using cryptography(for security), is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions which is resistant to modification and can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value and in a verifiable and permanent way. For use as a distributed ledger a Blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for internode communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority through Proof of authority, Proof of space, Proof of stake and Proof of work.

There are four types of Blockchain networks viz. Public Blockchain, Private Blockchain, Consortium Blockchain and Hybrid Blockchain. Private Blockchain have been proposed for business use while proven use cases for other type of Blockchain network are being explored. In May 2018, Gartner found that only one percent of CIOs indicated any kind of Blockchain adoption within their organisations, and only eight percent of CIOs were in the short term 'planning or active experimentation with Blockchain'.

People use Blockchain and Cryptocurrency inter changeably but Cryptocurrency is just one of the used cases of Blockchain and rather a subset really. The future is quite speculative for Cryptocurrencies but surely very bright for Blockchain technology.
Proven Use cases & Key Differentiators
The key differentiators for Blockchain technology is its decentralized mechanism, its openness and availability over the public platform, availability of permissioned (private Blockchain) and permission-less (public Blockchain) option, smart contracts and its lightning speed of transaction. There are some clear and important used cases for various companies and industries for Blockchain in India across Healthcare, Pharma, Insurance, Education, Finance, Gaming, Real estate and even to supply chain, I literally mean almost every where.

The key differentiators for Blockchain technology is its decentralized mechanism, its openness and availability over the public platform, availability of permissioned (private Blockchain) and permission less(public Blockchain) option,smart contracts and its lightning speed of transaction.

a.Healthcare, Pharma & Insurance­ In Insurance sector, Smart contracts is an answer to its customers and insurers to manage claims in a truly transparent and secure manner. All contracts and claims could be recorded on the Blockchain and validated by the network, which would eliminate invalid claims. While in Healthcare and Pharma, the data that's suitable for Blockchain would include general information like age, gender and potentially basic medical history data like immunization history or vital signs. None of this should be able to identify any particular patient that can be accessed by numerous individuals without undue privacy concerns.

b.Financial Services­ Blockchain has the potential to speed up back office settlement systems, increase efficiency and reduce costs. It can be used for seamless international payments, Capital Markets Trade Finance, Money Laundering Protection, Regulatory Compliance and Audit and for Peer-to-Peer transactions.

c.Gaming World ­With Blockchain, Gamers get the advantage of true ownership while the assets are tied to an individual's Blockchain address rather than accessed from a centralized game server as happening today, transparency through Blockchain explorers to confirm total supply of various game assets and interoperability by being read from a decentralized public ledger, Blockchain assets are open for any developers to integrate into their own game via Blockchain if they choose to.

d.Government Services­ Various government agencies can use Blockchain for extensively large Record Management, Identity Management, periodic Voting Taxes and Legislation/Compliance/ Regulatory Oversight.

How to Start your Own Blockchain Journey?
Due to its wide usage, use cases and applicability, you may find many learning companies promoting the Blockchain courses but finding the right learning approach is a daunting task. My recommendation to get you moving from an early stage to advance production deployment journey would be as follows:

a)Employees should be motivated to start off by self training, learning the basics of Blockchain. They can begin this by joining various Blockchain communities and visiting Bitcoin forums on Reddit, crypto vlogs on YouTube and Blockchain news.
b)Choose your online learning partner amongst Pluralsite Udemy and Coursera to name a few for structured learning programs.
c)Instructorled classroom trainings by experts to answer company specific business cases and user challenges would get them ready to start exploring the PoC and get going with building the R&D labs.
d)If you want to go bigand fast, don't shy away from keeping a consulting arm or contract skilled workforce ready.

Spreading awareness about this technology from scratch may appear as a daunting task, but if you have workforce with some preliminary knowledge about programming languages, coding, and data structure, it will become more comfortable to learn about this technology.