As with all major paradigm shifts, there will be winners and losers. But if we do this right, blockchain technology can usher in a halcyon age of prosperity for all. — Don Tapscott
I continue to read articles and see example of the disruptive nature of Blockchain. Recently, one of our Salesforce higher education customers demonstrated a persistent, progressive student profile that was built on top of a blockchain chain-script, linking student credentials to potential employers in a real-time using a mobile trusted framework. Trust is foundational to all businesses, and Blockchain enables entities to seamlessly establish trust and transparency at scale. Today, The total market capitalization for the world’s crypto-currencies, led by Bitcon on Blockchain, is more than $100 billion.
In this role of Solutions CTO, Colbert leads the customer-facing Salesforce Enterprise Architecture team which helps customers and prospects strategically transform their business systems. Previously, Colbert was IT CTO and Vice President of Enterprise Architecture at Salesforce. In this role, Brett was responsible for Salesforce IT strategy and Enterprise Architecture. Colbert has been researching Blockchain for more than three years, leading customer implementations and collaborating with blockchain industry thought leaders.
What is Blockchain? “A Blockchain is a digital, distributed transaction ledger, with identical copies maintained on multiple computer systems controlled by different entities.” Blockchain owes its potential to its many valuable characteristics: Reliable and available, Transparent, Immutable, Irrevocable, and Digital.Here a high-level summary illustration of blockchain:
“Bitcoin or other digital currency isn’t saved in a file somewhere; it’s represented by transactions recorded in a blockchain—kind of like a global spreadsheet or ledger, which leverages the resources of a large peer-to-peer bitcoin network to verify and approve each Bitcoin transaction. Each blockchain, like the one that uses Bitcoin, is distributed: it runs on computers by volunteers around the world; there is no central database to hack. The blockchain is public: anyone can view it at any time because it resides on the network, not within a single institution charged with auditing transactions and keeping records. And the blockchain is encrypted: it uses heavy-duty encryption involving public and private keys–like the two-key system to access a safety deposit box–to maintain virtual security.” — Don Tapscott, Author of Blockchain Revolution
Why is Blockchain a disruptive technology? Blockchain is a disruptive technology because of it’s ability to digitize, decentralize, secure and incentivize the validation of transactions. A wide swath of industries are evaluating blockchain to determine what strategic differentiators could exist for their businesses if they leverage blockchain.
Soon to be disrupted industries will include Financial Services, Healthcare, Aviation, Global Logistics and Shipping, Transportation, Music, Manufacturing, Security, Media, Identity, Automotive, Land Use and Government. Blockchain is garnering a lot of attention because blockchain will fundamentally change many of the industries listed above.
“The “killer app” for the early internet was email; it’s what drove adoption and strengthened the network. Bitcoin is the killer app for the blockchain.” — Harvard Business Review
Examples of Blockchain use by Industry - The answer isn’t in the technology, but in how the technology can improve inefficient business processes. The processes that we use to ship goods globally, buy and sell things, determine ownership of things or identify ourselves are typically slow, error prone, paper-based and heavily people-dependent.
Here are a few examples of the opportunities that exist to improve processes in a variety of industries using Blockchain:
- Land Use - Ownership and history of property currently requires the investigation of many different document sources such as Grantor-Grantee index, Land Records or Deed Records. The goal is to find any records related to property liens, easements, covenants, conditions and restrictions(CC&Rs), agreements, resolutions and ordinances. This a time consuming and laborious process in which it is easy to miss important information. Sweden is leveraging blockchain to track land registries called the Lantmäteriet. They estimate a taxpayer savings of $106 million per year based on reduction of fraud, eliminating paperwork and accelerating the process.
- Identity - Across the globe we use passports to identify people, which are paper-based identity cards similar to your driver’s license and therefore counterfeitable. ISIS is reported to have the ability to manufacture fake passports. In 2013, almost 40 million "travel" documents were reported as lost or stolen since 2002, according to Interpol. Dubai is working on a digital passport with a London-based company called ObjectTech. The digital passport is based on Blockchain. "This is an identity that is fit for the digital age," said Paul Ferris, co-founder and chief executive of ObjectTech. "Not only will it make international travel quicker and safer, but it also gives people back control of their personal digital data."
- Global Logistics and Shipping - The second largest port in Europe, Belgium-based Port of Antwerp, announced a blockchain pilot to automate and streamline the port’s container logistics operations. “According to the terminal authority, moving containers from point to point often involves more than 30 different parties, including carriers, terminals, forwarders, haulers, drivers, shippers and more. This process results in hundreds of interactions between those parties, conducted through a mix of e-mail, phone and fax.” Maersk is investigating blockchain to track global trade and shipments (see video below).
- Automotive - German automaker Daimler AG has issued a corporate bond worth €100m as part of a Blockchain pilot project. “According to Daimler, the entire transaction cycle – from origination, distribution, allocation and execution of the loan agreement, to the confirmation of repayment and of interest payments – was automated digitally through the blockchain network. Lending technical support were the IT subsidiaries of Daimler and LBBW, which also adopted the Blockchain's cryptographic signature to prevent manipulation of transactions.” Jan Brecht, Daimler’s CIO said, "We see blockchain as a promising technology, not fully mature yet, but continuously growing. Now is the right time to get into it, build up knowledge and form a network of like-minded people to share experiences.”
- Aviation - Accenture’s head of Aerospace and Defense said about Blockchain, "I really see this coming in, in a couple of years”, speaking at the Paris Air Show in June 2017. "Through all that life cycle of the engine, the original parts, the replacement parts and configuration are all being tracked, and it is being done by a number of different companies. "Blockchain is in effect a single federated ledger that everybody who uses and touches that engine could use it as a single point of truth of what has happened to the engine," he explained. "It is something we can see clearly in terms of the benefits and we effectively have a patent pending on how to leverage blockchain in the aftermarket."
- Manufacturing - The manufacturing industry uses QR codes and bar codes to identify products. These methods are notoriously insecure given the ease at which someone can copy or duplicates these codes. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the “imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global imports.” Imagine if luxury goods were tracked in an immutable blockchain.
- Prescription Drugs - Worldwide sales of counterfeit medicines could top US$ 75 billion this year, a 90% rise in five years, according to an estimate published by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest in the United States of America (USA). The FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act, signed into effect in November 2013, creates a requirement to ‘develop an electronic, inter-operable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.’ A San Francisco-based startup called Chronicled has launched a ‘track and trace’ pilot using blockchain to build an electronic, inter-operable system to identify and track prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.
- Finance - Visa has a blockchain effort called “Visa B2B Connect” partnering with Chain to analyze the possibility of optimizing near real-time funds transfer system for high value bank-to-bank and corporate payments. A company called Ripple is working with banks to optimize how they send money around the world, with the goal of new revenue models, lower processing costs and better overall customer experience. IBM Global Finance is working on one of the largest blockchain implementations.
- Government - The US Navy’s Naval Innovation Advisory Council (NIAC) will spearhead the testing of Blockchain technology in their 3D printing in order to help securely transfer data during the manufacturing process.
- Banking - According to an Accenture survey, “Nine in ten executives said their bank is currently exploring the use of Blockchain.” Some of the focus is on transforming payments at scale and reducing the risk of failure.
- Blockchain as a Service - Several enterprise software vendors have announced Blockchain as a Service offerings in which customers can leverage blockchain in a cloud environment.
“Every business, institution, government, and individual can benefit in profound ways. The blockchain is already disrupting the financial services industry. How about the corporation, a pillar of modern capitalism? With this global peer-to-peer platform for identity, reputation, and transactions, we will be able to re-engineer deep structures of the firm for innovation and shared value creation. How about these billions of connected smart things that will be sensing, responding, sharing data, generating and trading their own electricity, protecting our environment, managing our homes and our health? And this Internet of Everything will need a Ledger of Everything.” --- Don Tapscott, Author of Blockchain Revolution
This article was co-authored by Brett Colbert ---- Solutions CTO, Vice President of Enterprise Architecture at Salesforce. You can follow Colbert on Twitter at @brett_colbert.