There is a lot of hype and hyperbole about the impact and disruptions that blockchain promises to unleash on the Enterprise world. Some insist that the technology is unnecessary; while others maintain that it represents the critical missing link of the grand technology puzzle. The reality probably lies somewhere in between—and this underpins the ongoing debate.
Trust is the foundation of all business, yet maintaining trust in an ever-expanding global economy is an expensive, time-consuming, and frequently inefficient undertaking. Blockchain introduces the new paradigm of distributed trust (trustless) that is fueling all the excitement and optimism around the technology today.
The real power of blockchain lies in its ability to create business models that would not be feasible outside a trustless (distributed) system. One such model, which I call the “democratized service model,” is enabled by the trust established by large organizations. Until now, services have been offered by large corporations and consumed by end users. One reason for this model is the trust that large organizations have established. Now with the new distributed trust paradigm that Blockchain is helping to create, the service model is being shifted to a model wherein many small companies and even individuals can offer services with the same or even higher trust. One of these areas that I see this happening is the Storage Domain wherein solutions now exist that allow individuals and companies to allocate their free Storage space to the network which can be utilized by other organizations and corporations during peak time or as backup storage. All this happens in a secure fashion, managed by the framework and transparent to the users and providers. The providers get paid for the amount of storage used and users get access to cheaper and more available storage.
The distributed trust also brings in another very interesting use case. Once the trust is moved from an organization to a network, the organization becomes a service provider and if other organizations exist in that domain that provides similar services then they all become interchangeable. The impact of this is astonishing. One such use case we are working on is in Telecom Domain. We have experimented with a system wherein multiple telecom operators provide similar services around the globe, with their rates and ratings managed by a smart contract on the Blockchain Network. The users are not bound by one Telecom operator but are bound only to the network, and the SIM equivalent is a smart contract. User-agent automatically selects the telecom provider based on the location, signal strength, the ratings, and the service rates. So effectively your telecom operator could change on the fly in order to provide you the best possible service at cheapest rates… And you could travel around the world without the need to enable roaming and changing your SIM, while paying local rates everywhere.
Identity and Trust together are a very strong proposition. It is overwhelming to imagine the possibilities that come alive if one combines Blockchain with Identity Technology like Aadhaar. Buying a house could become as easy as buying a cake, with everything from the registry to loan sanction completed with a press of a button, and EMI managed through a smart contract. All this could contribute to creating a smart and interlinked network connecting the Enterprises and the customers together, laying a very strong foundation for smart cities and even smart country.
Blockchain is good at structuring data, and AI is good at processing a large amount of data. As Blockchain brings more data on the network, it provides us with opportunities to use that large amount of data to gain insights that we have never imagined before. To understand this let us consider the Medical application of Blockchain, wherein patient records right from the birth of a child, to all vaccination he is administered, then diagnostics and treatment given to the individual, even his genetic code could be recorded on the blockchain in a secure manner. All this data could then be analyzed and contribute to the medical science understanding of the development of various diseases and the patterns that preceded them. These patterns could then be used to detect the development of diseases in patients much earlier than present methods, thus saving lives.
All of this will have a domino effect on many other use cases. For example, if the provenance of a diamond can be traced to the place it was mined and to the entire value chain, it will tend to incentivize the merchant to provide for provenance and ownership management of the ornament made from it. This could also lead to taxation and many other use cases to be brought to Blockchain too. This seems to promote the idea that blockchain will tend to spread to all connected use cases thus the impact seems enormous.
Like other upcoming technologies, Blockchain too will have to overcome several challenges before it can be adopted on a mass scale. These challenges include scalability and standardization issues as well as the lack of any regulatory, legal, governance, collaborative, economic, digital, or cultural precedent.
The future of Blockchain is very bright. The technology is moving from a state of hype to a state where it creating the fabric that interlinks the whole world.
The Capgemini DEMS-India BU is working on many such solutions that enable the enterprises to unleash the power of blockchain.