Blockchain Technology has applications across a number of industries and could transform the way many businesses operate.
The rise of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies dominated the news agenda and captured imaginations in the latter half of 2017, as the value of the market soared. With this came renewed interest in blockchain technology, which first gained popularity in the finance industry during the emergence of cryptocurrencies. However, blockchain is more than cryptocurrency and the fact this technology has grown from one of the most conservative industries could potentially hamstring its development. In the world of finance, where consumer trust is key, the risks of implementing blockchain beyond cryptocurrency is just too high.
To really unlock blockchain’s full potential, risks will need to be taken and failure accepted on the journey. This requires a different way of thinking and an innovative and agile approach. Rather than pigeonholing the technology to only apply to financial transactions, business leaders can exploit the inherent characteristics of blockchain to their advantage. This includes the security conferred from the inability of any of the content to be altered once it has been validated and stored in a block, as well as the decentralised processing that facilitates collaboration and transparency.
Blockchain technology can extend beyond organisations to include partners, customers and supply chains, offering transparency and more opportunities for collaboration. The distributed ledger means that a single version of the document is used and can help ensure that everyone can see activity. Equal access is enjoyed by each party, so that there is a reduced chance of data being hidden or manipulated, as no one party has full control over the database. This will be a highly valuable system for many industries, not just finance.
Improving Blockchain through technology Innovation
Intel® Software Guard Extensions delivers enhanced privacy and security that can help protect blockchain transactions, and help improve throughput and consensus efficiency. For enhanced performance and efficiency of cryptographic hashing and blockchain security, solution builders and developers can take advantage of security technologies like Intel® AVX-512 and Intel® AES-NI that are built into Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors making them an ideal foundation.
Connected and driverless cars offer the opportunity for the automotive industry to implement new technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. However, security concerns over the potential hacking of connected cars have been detrimental to continued development and the more connected a car is, the greater the attack surface area.
Many of these concerns can be addressed by using blockchain. As there is no way to manipulate or alter data in a blockchain once it has been stored and a layer of encryption is added to each transaction, this natural security makes it almost impossible for malicious actors to hack. However, this encryption does not come without challenges. Time is the limiting factor, so careful consideration is needed for real-world applications. Where speed isn’t a crucial factor, such as for car insurance premiums, car sharing services or information about the vehicle’s condition and service information, are ideal candidates for blockchain.
This information needs to be kept secure and protected from manipulation, but not adversely affected by lengthy encryption times. In contrast, for autonomous vehicles communicating with infrastructure and other vehicles the information must be transmitted and verified in real-time so blockchain technology may not be suitable here.
Intellectual Property (IP) theft is another concern that can potentially be addressed by implementing blockchain technology. Any business that relies on the transfer of information across an internet connection is vulnerable to interception, manipulation or theft of their intellectual property. With a plausible future of micro-factories in close proximity to customers (enabled by 3D printing), a significant shift in supply chain thinking would be necessary, due to the removal of historic barriers to part production.
The 3D printing industry is an example of where IP theft is a real concern. 3D model files with designs are normally transferred to vendors and their printing machines via traditional means. To counteract theft of information, additive manufacturing blockchain systems create an automatic audit trail which enables users to track the appropriate use of the 3D model, the materials used in the process and finally the product serial number to certify its incorporation into the product it was designed for.
As industry landscapes change, it’s time to rethink blockchain and how it can be used to transform sectors that are rarely associated with the technology, allowing organisations to improve the quality of their transactions.
However, before organisations embrace blockchain, significant work needs to be done with the technology itself before widespread adoption is realised. The time and cost investment involved in the initial set up can be prohibitive to some businesses and greatly outweigh the associated benefits. Also, there must be a concurrent cultural shift within an organisation to ensure an endorsement by end users. By ensuring continuous quality is weaved into the very start of a project– from requirements validation through to business as usual – this level of risk can be reduced, and as the technology is being continually improved, business leaders should consider how this technology will make a positive difference to their organisation.
To determine the appropriate hardware for optimal performance, you first need to understand your use cases. Talk to a CIARA specialist for help in selecting a computing platform best suited to your needs.