Blockchain is a technology that has recently made a lot of noise around itself. Most of us associate it with cryptocurrencies. However, cryptocurrencies are only one of the products that can be built on blockchain. Let’s remember that a peer-to-peer token transfer system or a platform for creating smart contracts and decentralized applications is the tip of the iceberg. And just as in the case of ice solids, where the vast majority of them are hidden in the depths and remain invisible to the eye, so the potential that we use today in blockchain is also small. Blockchain technology is a whole new way of storing data. In the coming years, it may affect the way supply chains and warehouses are managed. It has the potential to impact most industries. So it is worth asking yourself whether blockchain is an opportunity for business development?
More secure databases
Nowadays, data security is one of the most sensitive issues of most companies. Every now and then we can hear about hackers hacking into centralised servers of banks or public institutions. However, the greater danger comes from the possibility of erasing all data from the server by burglars (including backups). In this case, the attacked company may be paralysed and unable to work for a long time.
Blockchain offers decentralized data storage, where each node is a server. A potential burglar must therefore not break into one place but, for example, into 20 different computers located in different parts of the world. Such a simple aspect as decentralisation makes databases much more secure.
Often, in order to obtain permission to perform an action or to approve a larger purchase, it is necessary to sign a few people at senior positions. There is no problem if the people who have to sign the document are in one place. The problem arises in the case of larger companies and multinational corporations, where more important directors are most often spread all over the world. The process of obtaining several signatures can therefore take several weeks. Many companies are therefore opting for digital signatures that do not require printing or manual signing. On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages in this process. One of them is the order in which the document is signed, which must be approved by the appropriate people in the right order. It is enough that one of them is outside the office (e.g. on vacation), and the rest cannot sign and again the time of the whole process can be counted in weeks.
The answer to these problems may be digital signatures based on blockchain, which will allow for signing documents in real time by different people. Additionally, anyone could check who signed the document and when. Each signature would also have its own unique hash, which would protect documents from forgery by creating fake signatures.
Large companies usually keep their data in the cloud. The collected information and files are usually divided into different platforms, which belong to different departments. Thanks to this, documents and Excel files from the accounting department do not mix with simulations and technical drawings from the designers department, who do not have to dig through hundreds of scanned contracts from the human resources department or legal advisers. This organisational structure gives order and order and automatically classifies data and files. On the other hand, one department often needs information from another. Usually the process of finding the right file or data on the platform of another department is extremely time-consuming and complex.
The solution to this problem can be to transfer data to blockchain. Each document received its own unique hash. Just as it is easy to find a car by its registration number, it would be just as easy to find files saved on blockchain. It would be enough to create a list of all documents and their hashes, and then make it available to everyone in each department. This would allow employees to simply search for a document in blockchain explorer in a few seconds.
Communication with suppliers
Companies that produce various devices, vehicles or products are quite often exposed to the potential problem of lack of adequate resources and raw materials for further production. In their case, the management of the warehouse and supply chain is crucial to their existence, because if production is stopped, they are threatened by huge financial losses. The more materials and resources are needed to produce a given product in a selected company, the greater the problem.
Blockchain offers not only a good quality database for storing information on inventory, but also an ideal platform for communication with companies providing the necessary resources. The supplier can create a smart blockchain contract that defines the product definition, quantity, price, availability date, delivery and payment terms. The manufacturer can automatically search blockchain for intelligent contracts that meet its requirements, verify the vendor’s reputation for quality and timeliness based on network data, and then complete the transaction without the need to manually generate an order. The supplier can then automatically locate and execute the intelligent delivery contract with the carrier.
Blockchain is not only a technology on which cryptocurrencues are created. It offers much more. It is an ideal place for the development of new business models, ecosystems or management systems for various aspects. It would seem that the solutions of the chain of blocks of flats are used mainly by financial institutions. This is not entirely true, because blockchain is used in a much larger number of industries and markets. The list below shows the largest companies in the world working on blockchain-based solutions:
- FedEx – logistics, tracking the package process and storing their data records on blockchain,
Goldman Sachs – banking and finance, trading platform
- Mærsk & IBM – maritime transport & IT solutions, tracking of maritime shipments, storage of documents and data on blockchain,
- UBS, Credit Suisse & Barclays – banking and finance, verification of documents on blockchain Ethereum,
- Nestle, Walmart & Unilever – food and retail industry, consignment tracking, food traceability,
- Brazilian Government – Public Administration, issuing of ID cards on blockchain Ethereum,
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China – banking and finance, verification of blockchain certificates,
- Apple – mobile devices, blockchain usage for data labelling
- Royal Dutch Shell – energy, a platform for trading commodities and raw materials on blockchain,
- Toyota – automotive, automatic payments in unmanned cars on blockchain,
- Samsung – household appliances and mobile devices, tracking and tracing of shipments in the supply chain,
- Siemens – industrial, energy and medical sector, investment in LO3 – energy startup supporting payments for energy between neighbours,
Bitcoin is just the beginning.
Most of those who come into contact with blockchain for the first time think that cryptocurrencies are the main product that this technology offers. For the time being, we can agree with them. However, looking at the pace at which successive companies are conducting tests and pilot programs on blockchain, we can be sure that soon we will see much more efficiently managed supply chains, safer databases and completely new business models. This is all thanks to the block chain technology that is just entering the world’s showrooms.