Most business leaders are a bit inured to the concept of technological change. Over the last 20 years or so, the business landscape has been so radically disrupted by tech that modern businesses look almost nothing like what anyone could have predicted in the 1990s.
Worse, every tech pundit and budding entrepreneur is convinced that some tech or other will again revolutionize business — so most business leaders try to tune a lot of that out.
However, blockchain is different. Already, blockchain technology has demonstrated its value and importance, and businesses stand to benefit greatly by adopting blockchain tools and services into their structure.
If you have ignored most of the hype about blockchain until now, you aren’t alone. But, here’s what you need to know about blockchain tech and how it is best applied in the business environment.
What Blockchain Does and How It Works
At its core, blockchain is a record-keeping technology. The “block” in blockchain is digital information, and the “chain” is a public database.
Currently, blockchain is most often used to track transactions, particularly in the cryptocurrency market, which means much of the information stored using blockchain tech concerns transactional data, like the date, time and amount of the transaction and the digital signature of the people participating in the transaction.
Blocks also contain a unique cryptographic code as an identifier called a hash, which distinguishes one block from another.
A single block can store up to 1 megabyte of data, which is quite small — the average photo is 3 megabytes and the average mp3 is 6 megabytes. However, because transaction data is not terribly large or complex, one block can usually store a few thousand transactions.
The beauty of blockchain is its security. Anyone can view the contents of the blockchain, peering into individual blocks to see particular data, but altering that data is all but impossible.
That is thanks to the nature of how blocks are created and stored. Rather than one computer or server producing and protecting all the blocks, the blockchain exists on every computer connected to it, meaning there are millions of identical copies of the blockchain all over the world.
If a hacker wanted to falsify a block or manipulate some data, that hacker would need to do so millions of times on every blockchain copy — an impossible endeavor.
What’s more, the chain would store both the old information and a record of the change; hackers would need to control more than 50 percent of the processing power on a blockchain network to attack the network and cover their tracks.
Yet, because most blockchain networks implement tests for computers interested in joining the blockchain to verify users’ trustworthiness, obtaining that coveted 51 percent control is unlikely.
How Businesses Can Apply Blockchain
As a record-keeping technology, blockchain is unendingly useful to businesses, which have almost infinite records to keep and typically an incredibly uneconomical manner of keeping them.
Here are five important ways businesses can leverage blockchain to improve efficiency and security:
As a new technology, blockchain is opening entirely new avenues of business, which gives blockchain-savvy entrepreneurs opportunities to thrive. Finding new, marketable applications for blockchain should be a venture-less entrepreneur’s focus, at the present.
It should go without saying that accounting stands to benefit most from blockchain. Blockchain can track transactions, making auditing much simpler, and blockchain can be beneficial in coordinating financial information across business locations.
Using a blockchain credentialing system, HR managers can quickly verify the identities of potential new hires. This will reduce inaccurate historical data about candidates and boost an organization’s ability to identify and recruit top talent.
Advertising and Marketing
Pay-per-click advertisements lose businesses significant sums of money from “click fraud,” or when non-target users click an ad and immediately bounce.
Blockchain can help marketers better identify their online markets thanks to users’ unique data signatures, which will help them develop more customized online marketing campaigns that drive success, not waste.
There is some controversy whether blockchain improves security or merely makes all information transparent.
In either case, many cybersecurity firms are developing blockchain solutions for enterprise, which could reduce the devastation caused by data breaches and leaks.
Blockchain tech might feel like computers did in the 1960s — neat, but ultimately in need of development before businesses can take full advantage.
However, it is likely that blockchain solutions are much closer than you understand. You should take the time to learn more about blockchain and find ways to implement it in your business, to keep ahead of the technology curve.