If you are familiar with cryptocurrency, then you are probably familiar with blockchain. Blockchain is the underlying technology ensuring transactions are accurate, transparent and immutable. Why is this technology important? When you’re working across a large number of individual stakeholders, there’s always the fundamental presence of inconsistency. Even if you completely trust the other person, human error is unavoidable.
Let’s look at a quick example. If you’re going to meet a friend for dinner and their clock didn’t update for daylight saving time, it was an accident, but it didn’t make them any less late. Blockchain technology operates in a similar way to the clock on your cell phone which automatically makes this correction, but instead of the time coming from a single centralized decision maker, it is reached through a majority vote by all the participants on the network.
Blockchains versus traditional databases
The primary difference between a blockchain and a database is centralization. While all records secured on a database are centralized, each participant on a blockchain has a secured copy of all records and all changes so each user can view the provenance of the data. The magic happens when there’s an inconsistency — since each participant maintains a copy of the records, blockchain technology will immediately identify and correct any unreliable information. Your friend’s watch would immediately self-correct for daylight saving time, even if a third person maliciously changed the time so they would be late, the time would immediately be verified against all participants and corrected.
When data can automatically identify and correct itself based on coded business logic (smart contracts) and consensus, participants are intrinsically able to trust it. When two businesses work together, they almost never share a single database with a single set of records, because the database is being maintained and updated by a database administrator (DBA). That DBA is being paid by one of the companies and thus has a stake in the success of one company but not necessarily the other. If they want to make a change that benefits their company, the other company would never know. Alternatively, on a more nefarious note, if a competitor decides to pay off the DBA, they can make any change they want to the database without either participant ever knowing.
When blockchain technology is incorporated into the data process, you remove the single point of failure, in this case the DBA, and ensure that if one of the participants makes a change it is immediately corrected by the other participants. After the data corrects itself, the unalterable record of changes will also indicate which participant tried to make the change. With the data process secured, a business can not only trust the data shared between the companies they are working with but can even trust the data shared by competitors. For example, if Samsung and Apple are sharing technology with each other, Samsung can trust that Apple has made payment for the technology and Apple can trust that Samsung has delivered it.
Trust the data
An interesting thing happens when competitors can trust the data being shared, it creates opportunities for more participants within the vertical to join the blockchain network and increase the visibility into the data. Expanding on the previous example, if Samsung and Apple are sharing technology and data on a blockchain network, and a transportation company joins the network, that data the transportation company wants to share on the network is immediately accessible to each of the other participants and then replicated to their records. Any time one of the participants makes a change, a new version of the record is validated by all participants. In this case, Apple could track the shipment from Samsung’s factory to Apple’s manufacturing center. Additionally, if a bank is added to the network, payment to the bank and to each participant after a transaction can be triggered automatically when a condition in the data is met, and because this data is secured and validated by all the participants, no single participant can fraudulently, or accidentally, alter the data to meet the conditional trigger within the data.
IBM Blockchain at Think 2019
IBM Blockchain is adding visibility into the data process and Think 2019 is a great opportunity to learn how. Be sure to register now and join us in San Francisco, February 12 – 15. Here are the top blockchain sessions at Think 2019:
Tuesday, February 12
8:30 – 9:10 AM; What is Blockchain in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom C. The speaker is Matthew Lucas, IBM Global Blockchain Engagement.
9:30 – 10:10 AM; Restoring Trust in Advertising with Blockchain in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Chad Andrews, IBM Global Solutions Leader, Advertising and Blockchain
10:30 – 11:10 AM; Blockchain for Know Your Customer: Game-Changing RegTech Innovation in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speakers are Michael Curry, IBM VP Engineering, Adam Gunther, IBM Director of Blockchain Trusted Identity and Network Services.
11:30 – 12:10 AM; TrustChain: A New Consortium Collaboration to Put Jewelry on Blockchain in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The Speakers are Yekaterina Malkova, IBM Global Business Services, Mark Hanna, The Richline Group, Berkshire Hathaway Company.
12:30 – 1:10 PM; Ajman Digital Government Blockchain Journey with IBM in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speakers are Ohoud Shehail, Ajman Digital Government, Dina Fares, Ajman Digital Government.
1:30 – 2:10 PM; How Daimler Boosts Sales with IBM Blockchain Technology in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Christopher ferenc Köszegi, Daimler AG.
1:30 – 2:10 PM; IBM Food Trust, Part 1: Overview and Solution in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom C. The speaker is Brigid Mcdermott, VP IBM Food Trust.
Wednesday, February 13
8:30 – 9:10 AM; How CLS is Building a Banking App Store Using Blockchain and IBM Cloud in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom C. The speaker is Stephen Woolman, IBM Watson and Cloud Platform Technical Sales.
8:30 – 9:10 AM; IBM Food Trust, Part 2: Overview and Blockchain Network in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Suzanne Livingston, Director of Offering Management, IBM Food Trust
12:30 – 1:10 PM; Trust in Trade: Blockchain for Trade Finance in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom C. The speaker is Parm Sangha, IBM Executive, Global Business Services.
2:30 – 3:10 PM; IBM Food Trust, Part 3: Overview and Client Use Cases in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Suzanne Livingston, Director of Offering Management, IBM Food Trust.
3:30 – 4:10 PM; How Blockchain Ignites a Social Plastic Revolution/Why We Need to Stop “Blocksplaining” Blockchain is in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Shaun Frankson, CTO and Co-founder of Plastic Bank.
3:30 – 4:10 PM; Insurance Industry Reporting: Blockchain to the Rescue in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Joan Zerkovich, American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS) SVP of Operations.
5:30 – 6:10 PM; Can Blockchain Save the Musician? In the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Panos Panay, VP of Innovation and Strategy, Berklee College of Music.
Thursday, February 14
9:30 – 10:10 AM; Blockchain at University—How to Build Young, Aspiring Blockchain Experts Effectively in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speakers are Magda Borowik, Ministry of Digitalization Poland, Karolina Marzantowicz, IBM CEE Chief Technology Officer.
9:30 – 10:10 AM; Blockchain for Insurance: Proof of Risk Coverage in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom C. The speaker is Annap Derebail, IBM Executive Architect, Financial Services Sector CTO Office Member.
4:30 – 5:10 PM; TradeLens: Tackling the Fundamental and Daunting Challenges of Global Trade Together is in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Mike White, CEO TradeLens.
Friday, February 15
11:30 – 12:10 PM; Embodying Corporate Data Stewardship with Decentralized Identity is in Moscone Data & Analytics / AI Theater 2. The speaker is Adam Gunther, IBM Director of Blockchain Trusted Identity and Network Services.
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