A one-size-fits-all blockchain just won – t do

With manifold use cases and specific requirements for blockchains, businesses will have to choose the right diversity rather than deploy a single ‘interoperable’ blockchain

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There will certainly be some major developments for blockchain technology ter the coming years. The basic idea of tamper-proof, distributed gegevens structures with time-stamped and replicable transactions stored te chained and encrypted blocks will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

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However, one blockchain alone will not solve every problem. The technology is also much more driven by business than by technology. The question, therefore, is if it will help solve real business problems, and if so, ter which version. Clearly, blockchains are not a better solution for everything.

Since the blockchain became famous spil the technological foundation for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin some years ago, slew of other cryptocurrencies and implementations have evolved. One of the most famous at the uur is Ethereum, with its concept of so-called brainy contracts. Because a blockchain is ideal for use cases characterised by manifold transactions relying on self-executing agreements, thesis are also one of the main drivers for its further development ter areas such spil finance, insurance, healthcare and the internet of things (IoT).

Bitcoin is pseudonymised, public and permission-free, but there are also numerous private and permissioned, let alone hybrid, forms, where participants need authorisation before getting access. The fundamental factor of them all, however, is overeenstemming – ‘mining’ ter Bitcoin language – which means each copy of each knot is identical to all the others.

Different types of blockchain deploy different mathematical overeenstemming mechanisms to verify each transaction, thus maintaining the integrity of the ledger and creating an immutable spil well spil auditable record. Attempts to omkoopbaar the blockchain fail, since manipulated entries will be discarded te the following overeenstemming run – ter theory at least.

The overeenstemming proefje

The overeenstemming proefje defines use cases and characteristics such spil spectacle, etc. With Bitcoin, overeenstemming is established through so-called proof-of-work hashing algorithms, without the need for intermediaries. That has the potential to cut clearing process costs ter the finance industry, but has the disadvantage of consuming a high amount of energy. It is also slow and not very efficient, and there have bot several security-related Bitcoin incidents.

A permissioned blockchain, on the other arm, seems to be more attractive for security reasons because the overeenstemming works spil a kleintje of unforgeable digital signature. It is also usually swifter, but lacks the possibility of omitting intermediaries and does not work for many of the public use cases. There are other limitations and pitfalls too.

Te the end, it is the question of the business use case. Does a certain type of blockchain help solve individual challenges a) better than before, b) that couldn’t be solved before, or c) that are downright fresh? Does it improve competitiveness by lowering costs? The type of ledger defines what can be done and how.

The right blockchain

If your ultimate objective is to achieve a good balance inbetween business enablement and risk mitigation by blockchain, you need an understanding of both aspects. It would clearly be a win-win to lower the risk while accelerating the business.

With closed, permissioned blockchains, the rules for access rights to certain private information could be determined and managed via clever contracts. Thesis contracts could also store gegevens about when the access rights expire and bring them to an end automatically. While blockchains today also mainly support secure information storage, they will develop to secure information processing too, opening up further possibilities for interesting use cases such spil ter information rights management (IRM) and life management platforms (LMPs).

Like other technologies, blockchains do not suggest 100% security. It is significant to choose an suitable version, one that fits particular business and security requests. Inbetween public and private blockchains there also exist various subtypes or so-called federated ledgers, managed by several permissioned organisations instead of by just one. Thesis “community” blockchains are typically more secure than private distributed ledgers and therefore very suitable for the finance world, for example.

Companies can also use blockchain spil a service models suggested by the likes of Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. IBM, for example, has created its own overeenstemming protocol that is being used by several larger banks.

How to go about it

Commence puny by analysing the potential profitable use cases for your business. Observe the further development of blockchains. Invest ter employee education to make staff understand the specific benefits and drawbacks of different blockchains. Develop a strategy and a roadmap. And reorganise your IT by decentralising it totally and moving IT capabilities into the business. Don’t just align IT – integrate it. Strive to participate ter industry groups. And, very likely most significant of all, take time to proef with different blockchains ter overseeable projects.

Martin Kuppinger is founder and principal analyst at KuppingerCole.

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