A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of unchangeable records of data that is managed by a collection of computers not owned by any single entity. Each of these blocks of data (i.e. block) are secured and bound to each other using cryptographic principles (i.e. chain). A blockchain carries no transaction cost. (An infrastructure cost yes, but no transaction cost.)
The blockchain is a simple yet ingenious way of passing information from A to B in a fully automated and safe manner. The process starts from one party to a transaction initiates the process by creating a block. This block is verified by thousands to perhaps millions of computers distributed around the net. The verified block is added to a chain, which is stored across the net, creating not just a unique record, but a unique record with a unique history. Falsifying a single record would mean falsifying the entire chain in millions of instances. That is virtually impossible. Bitcoin uses this model for monetary transactions, but it can be deployed in many other ways.
Blockchain is now being implemented into large multi faceted conglomerates such as Walmart as they have been working with IBM for over a year on using the blockchain to digitize the food supply chain process. In fact, supply chain is one of the premiere business use cases for blockchain (beyond digital currency). Walmart is using the IBM Food Trust Solution, specifically developed for this use case. Before moving the process to the blockchain, it typically took approximately 7 days to trace the source of food. With the blockchain, it’s been reduced to 2.2 seconds. That substantially reduces the likelihood that infected food will reach the consumer. IBM has become one of the front runners in incorporating blockchain into the mainstream and is ranked #1 in blockchain credentials.
While it’s too early to say how big of a role blockchain will play in the future of automation, millions of dollars are being invested in the potential of blockchain through research and experimentation. However, we’re already seeing suppliers and retailers optimize their supply chain by using blockchain to track the flow of goods from origin to retail stores. Although It’s too early to start investing and working with blockchain, you should familiarize yourself with the blockchain technology as it will be a valuable asset later on when the technology is more compatible and intuitive.
Learn how IBM’s blockchain platform can help your business grow. https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/for-business