5 Blockchain Applications for Enterprises to Watch
As investors continue to pour money into fledgling blockchain companies1, established businesses are looking into new blockchain applications that could transform traditional business models.
From global supply chains to healthcare and more, blockchain remains an appealing technology for many companies due to its attention to detail in traceability, transparency, and security2. Among those leading the wave of adoption is Marie Wieck, General Manager, IBM Blockchain. After her appearance on a blockchain panel at the Value of Data—a data-focused industry event hosted by Bloomberg and Western Digital—Marie sat down to share her thoughts about enterprise blockchain services and solutions.
She pointed out that a growing number of executives believe that blockchain applications hold meaningful business value. As Marie revealed in her interview,
“We did a study of over 3,000 C-suite executives and found that every single one of those industries was exploring the use of blockchain.”
It was a strong response that showed major industries view blockchain as a game-changing technology. Marie added that “66 percent of the early adopters thought that new business models would be the biggest drivers from blockchain.” With new business models come new business opportunities, which could translate to a bigger bottom line for companies.
In this article, we build on Marie’s insights and dive into five important blockchain applications for enterprises to watch.
1. Supply Chain Safety and Traceability
How far back can you trace where the groceries in your kitchen came from? For many people, tracing back the origin of their food leads to the local supermarket, but not much else. With the danger of food outbreaks, however, blockchain could offer enterprises and consumers alike a new level of safety and traceability in the food supply chain.
Let’s take the example of a banana grown in Brazil. As the banana changes hands along the food supply chain, blockchain could track every person who interacts with the fruit in an immutable distributed ledger. Every grower, processor, distributor, and retailer could be traced to ensure the banana meets food safety requirements. The result would be supply chain data that is permanently stored, selectively shared, and effectively secured. And that could mean a food supply that is healthier and more sustainable for all.
2. Patient Health Data
In today’s hospitals and healthcare facilities, patient data is kept under tight wraps. For patients, this has the benefit of reducing the chances of health data being misused or illegally accessed. However, these medical regulations also create silos where a single patient’s data could be stored across different medical institutions in various formats and standards. This creates a time-consuming and frustrating experience for a person looking to access their full medical history in a timely fashion.
Blockchain applications could be just the remedy that the doctor ordered. With this technology, patient data would be stored on a distributed ledger where patients grant access to their medical data to specific physicians, nurses, or other medical providers access. It could mean the end of physical libraries or containers packed with medical records and more efficient and secure patient health data management.
3. Smart Contracting
There’s no such thing as a “programmable contract”… right? In other words, a contract that’s written on paper and agreed to by all necessary parties is set in stone. This leaves open the possibility for unethical individuals to try to use loopholes that take advantage of the legal system. If blockchain applications are adopted at scale, then the contracts of the future could become automated software programs.
Instead of agreements based on good faith, blockchain could use software to create trigger-based contracts3. One example would be time-based triggers—think of a rental agreement where a person’s monthly rent payment is automatically sent from their bank to their landlord’s bank. Another type of trigger? Picture a contractor or consultant automatically getting payment from their client after their work is completed.
In either case, deploying a smart contract on a private blockchain network could automatically and transparently enforce contractual agreements—saving unnecessary litigation and allowing people to focus on their work.
4. Decentralized Applications
Imagine being able to move seamlessly around the Internet without having to worry about your data being tracked, leaked or misused. Instead, you would be able to bring your data from website to website while your digital interactions are encrypted.
This could be the future, if decentralized applications built on top of blockchain come to fruition. Forget using emails, passwords, or social media to sign up for different applications one-by-one. In such a scenario, each online user would have an identity registered in the blockchain, as well as an encryption key. This key would require permission from a user to have their data accessed by either applications or other users. Data would stay private, secured, and under the ownership of individual users.
5. Reimagined Loyalty Programs
When was the last time that you redeemed your rewards from a loyalty program? If you’re like many people, the chances are that you’ve signed up for a bunch of programs, but are active in only 50 percent4. This is mainly due to the time and energy needed to navigate often confusing reward redemption processes.
For enterprises, this lack of loyalty could present a major problem. Research has shown that successful loyalty programs could generate as much as 20 percent of a company’s revenue5. Having a poor reward system is a missed business opportunity. With its distributed ledger, blockchain could streamline messy rewards processes. Through blockchain-enabled loyalty programs, brands could update customers’ rewards in real-time based on their spending activities—creating a truly loyal consumer in the process.
As for how long you might have to wait until blockchain applications becomes a bigger part of your day-to-day life?
“We’re now really starting to see production [blockchain] networks take off. So, I think you’re going to see a real tipping point across a number of industries in the next 1 to 2 years,” Marie Wieck
Read More about Enterprise Blockchain Applications
- General Electric Bets on Blockchain for Global Supply Chain
- The Value of Blockchain & the IoT Data Marketplace
- Infographic | Data + Blockchain Making Your Holiday Meals Safer
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS: This article may contain forward-looking statements, including statements relating to expectations for blockchain technology, the market for blockchain technology, product development efforts, and the capabilities and applications of blockchain technology what may relate to Western Digital products. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements, including development challenges or delays, supply chain and logistics issues, changes in markets, demand, global economic conditions and other risks and uncertainties listed in Western Digital Corporation’s most recent quarterly and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which your attention is directed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.
- With at least $1.3 billion invested globally in 2018, VC funding for blockchain blows past 2017 totals. https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/20/with-at-least-1-3-billion-invested-globally-in-2018-vc-funding-for-blockchain-blows-past-2017-totals/
- Top five blockchain benefits transforming your industry. https://www.ibm.com/blogs/blockchain/2018/02/top-five-blockchain-benefits-transforming-your-industry/
- Popular Use Cases of Blockchain Technology You Need to Know. https://hackernoon.com/popular-use-cases-of-blockchain-technology-you-need-to-know-df4e1905d373
- Making blockchain real for customer loyalty rewards programs. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/financial-services/articles/making-blockchain-real-customer-loyalty-rewards-programs.html
- Loyalty: is it really working for you? https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/loyalty-is-it-really-working-for-you