Why Now Is The Best Time To Embrace Blockchain Technology

from Forbes

This is going to be a bold statement: It’s time for your business to start embracing blockchain, the biggest game-changer in technology since the internet.

Blockchain, to those unfamiliar with the concept, is a hyperledger. This technology makes it possible for users to enjoy a transparent and distributed digital record of transactions while doing away with the need for a central database. By decentralizing data storage and enabling distribution of digital records, this technology provides transparency and allows users to transact with one another without needing a third party. With blockchain, everyone can manage their own data — from money to personal information.

Making data transparent, accessible and incorruptible can go a long way. Imagine what will happen when the average person has complete control over how their data is managed — there would be no need for third parties, which will drastically lower transaction costs, reduce waiting times and ultimately make services more accessible to people from all walks of life. This technology is about to change every industry’s practices, and early adopters will be sure winners.

More here.

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13 Comments

  1. Blockchain is the newest hype word in business. It was popularized by the boom in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that use it, but it has implications across the board for business. Blockchain is a digital ledger that keeps track of all kinds of transactions. The transactions are shared with servers all over the world where they are checked for validity and then kept in records. Since the transactions are checked by all the servers for consistency, it is virtually impossible to counterfeit or trick the system. This makes it very secure for important information and also allows for data transparency. In terms of Bitcoin, that means that whenever a Bitcoin is created or bought, the transaction information is stored in the digital ledger and recognized by all systems in the blockchain as valid.
    Cryptocurrencies are not the only place that blockchain is being implemented. Another industry that has incorporated blockchain into its operations is the music industry. Blockchain has allowed more efficient keeping of deals between labels and distributors, making legal music easier for consumers to obtain. But blockchain is not without its challenges. One of the bigger challenges is community engagement. There needs to be a community of users that will support the move from traditional methods of record keeping over to the totally digital blockchain. It is important to maintain transparency with the community as to what you are doing and how you are doing it. Blockchain will likely see more and more implementation in industries going forward because of the many benefits that it offers.
    While blockchain shows a lot of promise, it may not be right for all industries. It does not solve all business problems yet and is still relatively new, which means that there is a lot of progress to be made in making it ready for the mainstream. With this in mind, I think that it is important for early adoption of this technology to grow because without that experience using blockchain, we will not know what needs to change or be added or removed. I can also realize the amazing potential that blockchain brings to businesses by offering foolproof tracking of data and security for that data too. When it is fully ready and optimized, it will definitely have a profound effect on business as we know it.

  2. I work for the Stillman School’s Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF). We own Facebook (FB) and have for a while. The last twelve months have been a rollercoaster for FB stock and has led to serious conversations at the SMIF about selling. Since a rocky IPO at $38 in 2012, FB’s trajectory had been straight up. Like many other fast growing, Nasdaq-tech juggernauts, investors loved the name. At the start of 2018, it looked like we could be headed to $200 by year’s end. After touching $180, the stock now trades at $153. What happened?

    The Cambridge Analytica Scandal involving 87 million FB users earlier this year was the first log on the pile. Now with further, significant data breaches popping up, FB shareholders are faced with a dilemma: sell shares in anticipation of further setbacks due to cybercrime and potential regulation – or – to stay invested in what is still the world’s most popular and profitable social media platform.

    If we look at what is burning the world’s iPhone battery these days, it is likely to be Instagram.

    The most recent breach discussed by this NYT article, discovered in September, is the largest in the company’s history, involving the data of over 50 million users. In the wake of the CA scandal in March, this news also comes as FB and other tech giants are under the microscopes of US and European regulators for election manipulation and other regulatory concerns. Business insider reports that this recent breach could land FB a 1.41 billion Euro ticket from the EU. Other tech giants have already felt the wrath of European regulators. Google broke the fine record this year with a $5 billion-dollar penalty for preinstalling Google on phones. Those fines can add up to attack financials, and with lofty earnings expectations from investors they can hurt share price.

    Perhaps FB can undergo a similar transformation to Target. In Q4 of 2013 as Target was already struggling with waning consumer interest, news broke that the company had spilled data about 70 million customers. Fast forward to Q4, 2018, and we see a brand-new Target. The chain is surviving the Amazon-purge of brick and mortar retailers and has recreated the mystique of the “Tar-jet” image (dubbed by reporters) that it once had. How did target accomplish this? It brought in new leadership and scaled back operations, including leaving Canada entirely. FB is likely too wrapped up in regulatory confusion to be able to change as easily as Target, but maybe FB like TGT will eventually need some fresh leadership.

  3. Blockchain technology is fascinating and the concept is one that is promising for individuals security and control of privacy. I briefly spent some time trading cryptocurrencies and I know that blockchain technology is a key component to that. The idea that there is a decentralized system where trading can occur and there is no need for brokers or third parties is truly something amazing and freeing. A big problem with individuals trading is that if you have a trading account through lets say TD’s think or swim program, they require a minimum $25,000 in your trading account to be considered and allowed to day-trade. If one does not have that type of capital in their account, they are limited to three trades per week. That is incredibly limited and is frustrating for those traders who do not have that type of capital to trade with. With blockchain technology, we no longer need a broker or a minimum in our account to trade with. Not only that, there is an added layer of security and anonymity provided by blockchain technology which is reassuring.

    A problem that the article talks about is the fact that these ICOs have had trouble getting off the ground. ICOs are initial coin offerings, like an IPO of a company, but for a cryptocurrency. These ICOs all claim to do different things using various forms of blockchain technology. Unfortunately, because this is such a new type of technology, many of these ICOs are just scams. It is a fake product made to look nice in an effort to attract people to invest in it before they launch. The majority of people investing in this type of tech are not protected well enough from being scammed. It is tough to scan through dozens of ICOs to find one that seems legitimate enough to invest in. Only with tangible evidence will a company using blockchain technology be successful.

  4. Blockchain is a breakthrough technology that makes it possible for the users to get involved in digital transactions in a decentralized system. Before reading this article, I heard of block chain for the first time this past summer during my accounting internship. A management level employee gave all of the interns a presentation on blockchain. At first, we were explained what blockchain entails, the current uses, the future potential uses and we had time to ask any questions we might’ve had. As this article explains, blockchain’s potential benefits are the ability to make data transparent, easily accessible to everyone, and incorruptible. The whole idea of blockchain is based on trust and transparency. One of the big areas for use and development includes electronic contracts, since blockchain had the ability to eliminate third parties. However, blockchain faces a number of practical and logistical challenges, which may prevent it from making a fast break though within the business and consumer markets. The main challenge revolves around the fact that the end users of block chain lack the education in order to trust the decentralized system, and as the article explain in trust is one of the two main components that blockchain is based on. Additionally, a lot of the business users are potentially limited to what extent they may implement blockchain into their operations due to the regulatory restrictions and opposition by the end users who, as mentioned above, might not have the appropriate education to support the business urge to move to blockchain services.

    Personally, I see the potential for blockchain to eventually be a standard procedure of the business’ operations, because businesses have the funds to educate their employees and implement new technology in order to increase efficiency. However, I do not see blockchain becoming of everyday use to the every day individuals due to the limited awareness and training in blockchain.

  5. In this article by Stephen Brett, CEO and co-founder of Inmusik, he states that blockchain is the “biggest game-changer in technology” since the internet. Although I would consider this a hyperbole, I firmly believe that the inception of blockchain has changed the way many corporations conduct their business functions, in regards to improving daily operations and performances of complex financial transactions. An advantage of implementing blockchain technology is the transparency and accessibility of data, as mentioned in the article. Relating to the investment banking industry, verifying clients and counterparties is crucial, or else fraud and money laundering could become rampant and generate significant losses. Blockchain technology, with its cryptographic protection and ability to share consistently updated records with other parties, can help mitigate the risk of engaging into transactions with criminals and help authenticate/track clients’ identities and their respective histories.

    Another important aspect of blockchain that Stephen Brett mentions is that it can help reduce costs, which is beneficial at both business and individual levels. Regarding tax implications of cryptocurrencies, the IRS considers them as property; similarly to real estate, stocks, and other securities. Potentially, an investor can receive deductions if he/she incurs an overall net capital loss which can lower his/her overall taxable income, or an investor can receive favorable rates depending on how long the security was held. Additionally, there is no central intermediary that confirms or manages transactions. Small businesses can utilize smart contracts to avoid paying fees that otherwise would have been allocated to banks and lawyers, as well as increase the operation speeds for individual transactions.

  6. Before reading this article, I was not aware of the broad application span blockchain technology has. My previous understanding of blockchain technology was that it was mainly for supply chain purposes, but this article highlights its potential use for a wide span of industries. I definitely think blockchain technology has potential utility for the future, however, I have slight skepticisms that this technology will not be the answer for all companies. The article cites that “with blockchain, everyone can manage their own data – from money to personal information,” which is not always beneficial in every circumstance. Placing the responsibility of managing large amounts of raw data solely on a company is a difficult and costly task to successfully manage. Changing hardware and information system software is not as difficult as getting employees to accept and adopt the new technology and procedures.

    This article communicates the potential drawbacks in implementing blockchain technology, which are mainly caused by the transparency and trust issues. An article from The Wall Street Journal provides a good analysis how the potential for blockchain technology resembles that of “the cloud” when it was first introduced (https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-blockchain-will-survive-even-if-bitcoin-doesnt-1520769600). The cloud has enabled businesses and industries to adopt new cost-effective processes as a result of greater storage capacity lower costs. If blockchain technology can successfully collect precise data at a reasonable cost, then it certainly has potential to spark economic growth. However, in both articles, there agreed skepticism concerning the possibility that this technology is not the complete “revolutionary” answer, but rather an “incremental” step in developing the complete answer. From a logistical standpoint, this technology can accurately track and provide real-time data related to the flow of merchandise. From an accounting and finance perspective, this capability provides real-time information related to inventories and transactions, providing an easy process for reporting accurate information. And most importantly, blockchain technology provides management with the ability to make improved decisions based on precise, real-time data. These types of innovations help businesses thrive and help generate economic growth, so I am certainly interested in blockchain’s future.

  7. Before reading this article, I had no clue as to what “blockchain” was, nor what its true purpose was. After taking the time to read and see what exactly blockchain would change and the innovation behind it, I am completely on board with the concept for plenty of reasons.

    Blockchain, to simply put it, simplifies the way that data can be accessed and kept track of without needing a potential third party. This can affect and aid most, if not all businesses and industries, with the author of the article Stephen Britt describing his personal experience with blockchain and how he saw the benefits first hand, recalling “With more people having access to released music, my company uses blockchain to augment what already works. Blockchain will not only allow listeners to access music legally, it will also make royalty payments transparent for rights holders, labels and distributors” (Britt, 2018).

    However, there is a reason as to why all companies have not jumped on board: the target market.

    The target market is one of the most important aspects of business as a whole, in my opinion. If your target market has some type of flaw in it (too small, too big, different demographic), some business will crumble and fall to the ground easily. Specifically, I think that companies that have older ways of operating (as well as a more-inactive community) might not get into blockchain for at least a little while, if it all. Blockchain thrives only if your community is active and supportive, which would back up what Britt observed earlier. The reason blockchain worked so well for his industry is because the music industry these days through streaming sites (SoundCloud, Apple Music, Spotify) is booming with big artists and smaller independent ones trying to make a name for themselves. With a company that operates with an inactive community or that has operated for years in the same way, this will not work for them, as the community will not care or will be confused as to what is going on and what changes the company has ultimately made.

    Blockchain benefits the big companies and industries making noise today, but if you are part of a company that is part of an industry on its way down, blockchain might not be the best idea.

  8. Prior to reading this article, I was not that educated on the concept of blockchain technology. This technology “provides transparency and allows users to transact with one another without needing a third party” (Brett). One of the first examples I thought of was Bitcoin. A few years ago, Bitcoin which is a cryptocurrency emerged and had quite a lot of attraction by the public. Since blockchain technology requires honesty and for people to have complete control over their data, that would in return lower transaction costs. As this technology becomes more and more popular, that will change how industries operate. Technology as a whole has led to the unimaginable to happen because even at one point there were those that have doubt on the internet. Now the internet controls that way the world gets ordinary tasks completed to be able to communicate with others from all different countries.
    Since blockchain technology involved the removal of third parties such as having a bank assist in the transaction between two parties that will cause people to lose their jobs. Although this might occur, the idea that a new and potentially bigger market could come forth from this will save jobs. Establishing trust and transparency in the market is not an easy task since those two factors normally take time to create. This is one of the downsides and benefits of this technology because if the risk of doing this helps the people that they will be able to see the good that results of it. However, if corruption and dishonesty happen in ICOs and fails for that reason, that will ruin some of its reputations. This has been the case for some ICOs and causes hesitation in people from making this transition. The other difficult thing about blockchain is being able to market it the right way that will make investors want to take the risk in putting their money into the ICO. Although right now, there are more people who think that this blockchain will not make a big emergence are underestimating its real capabilities. As I stated at the beginning of this comment, I have never heard of the term blockchain but I have heard of bitcoin. This just shows that even if there is not a huge fan base yet, it does not mean it is not possible. As the amount of ICOs makes their presence wider, the people will most likely respond positively to it because they will realize that they would have more control over their how their data is managed. In a world where data is constantly being tracked and analyzed with no regulations could also make blockchain more appealing.
    Overall, right now blockchain technology is a big risk but with that being said, it could produce big gains. The most naïve thing to do which this new technology is to try to completely rule it out when over time it could be a reality. Instead preparation and getting educated on how to interpret ICOs and blockchain technology in all perspectives is the solution. This way if it does become the upcoming way of doing transactions, one is not getting blindsided.

  9. Blockchain technology is going to the biggest technology change in society since the internet was founded. Blockchain is like a hyper ledger. It became well known when cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin came into the trading world. One of my classmates brought bitcoin when no one knew about it for $2000 and when he talked about it in class last year Bitcoin was worth over 10,000 dollars. However, now a day’s bitcoin has significantly fallen off and it is now worth around $3,000. Blockchain is a digital ledger that can keep track of all types of transactions while keeping it private and safe. Additionally, this technology makes it possible for users to have the advantage of a transparent and distributed digital record of transactions. Blockchain technology decentralizes data storage which enables the distribution of digital records. The transparency allows people to transact with each other without the involvement of a third party. It allows everyone to manage their own data whether it is money or personal information. Making personal data transparent that is accessible and safe can be a game changer. Just think about how cool it would be if an average person can have complete control on how their data is managed. If this flourishes and blockchain takes over the technology world there will be no need for third parties which will help reduce transaction costs, decrease waiting times and make services more accessible to people from anywhere in the world. This technology is going to be a game changer and the people who know about it already will have an advantage over the others.

    Blockchain technology can be applied to so many things that it will improve the workplace and will make lives easier and more secure. Blockchain will revolutionize healthcare. This new technology will give patients more control over sensitive medical information. The hospital will have the ability to streamline and share it and it will always be protected. Additionally, it will make banking easier for everyone. Sending money to different countries or even different states can take days even weeks if it is done via a wire transfer. That could mean a family member is in need for basic necessitates to live their lives. A bank will charge a fee to do wire transfers which is mind-boggling and unfair. However, blockchain will make transferring money easier and a lot quicker than through a bank. Additionally, the blockchain technology will not charge a fee to transfer your money to someone else. Also, blockchain will make buying a house a lot easier. The housing market is a messy and long process. Buying a home takes months of filling out paperwork and fees. Blockchain however removes the need for the detailed verification process that is carried by intermediaries. Blockchain has a single transparent truthful information about the buyer where one party can not make any changes without the consent from others. Blockchain will reduce paperwork, less chance of fraud, and easy for verification. I believe blockchain will eventually run this world, but it will take quite a bit of time for everyone to get used to It and be comfortable using it. I do not believe it will happen in our lifetimes but in the future, everything will be done via blockchain.

  10. The introduction of blockchain leads to another transformative technological trend throughout the world. Blockchain creates a platform or ledger for networks of businesses to perform transactions and related activities that embrace transparency and data storage decentralization. This can potentially create a more business-to-business operation as well as elimination of a third party or a middleman. It is true that this technology may seem difficult to implement in every industry, however, companies would have to learn how to adapt their strategies to meet the current demand. A case in point is the fact that a lot of financial institutions from around the world like JPMorgan, HSBC, and ANZ have implemented blockchain for a period of time now. This fact can come as especially surprising since the financial industry is usually a late adopter of technology. Furthermore, blockchain can be considered a direct competitor due to the fact that it actively removes banks’ control over the funds and accounts of their customers.

    At the same time, the reason blockchain works for the financial industry essentially due to the fact that they can sustain it as well. It can easily overcome the three challenges pointed out by the author of the article which is the lack of a tangible product that solves real-world problems, little engagement with the community, and lack of transparency. However, they have not extended the same technology application beyond business-to-business transactions. To fully meet the market demand, the next step is definitely to create a platform for the general public to improve services in terms of time and accuracy.

  11. I love how this article gets right into the action with a large proclaim like, “It’s time for your business to start embracing blockchain, the biggest game-changer in technology since the internet”. If you’re like me and needed a little bit more of an explanation of what exactly blockchain is, here is a great short youtube video that explains the basics.

    I think the most important and crucial element of this article was the last section which Stephen Brett headed “How will blockchain become mainstream?” This is such a crucial component of any technological advancement and a component that will determine the forever usage of the technology. As Stephen compares to the internet bubble, blockchain can only avoid the blockchain bubble bursting by correcting developing the software and correctly introducing the product to the market.

    Now, what is the correct way to introduce this concept to the market? Slowly and carefully! With such a drastic change that this technology would impose on all users, the change must be gradual and natural, something the users must pull for, not something pushed upon them. First impression is such an important element, and if blockchain gets off to a rough start with a rushed release and underdeveloped software or user-interface, the general public will resent blockchain usage.

    The largest obstacle that I see which people will need to be comfortable with is the privacy which will be given up when utilizing blockchain. Using third party transaction facilitators maintains privacy while blockchain usage will make all documents and transactions public. The largest elements of blockchain as described by Stephen are transparency and trust. These aspects are hard to achieve by the general public and the sharing of personal transactions between two private parties may be reluctant to share on this public platform.

  12. As society progresses, new technologies offer different opportunities to conquer old problems. An age old problem revolves around user data. More specifically maintaining user’s data privacy while providing public accessibility. Blockchain makes it possible for users to enjoy a transparent and distributed digital record of transactions while doing away with the need for a central database. By decentralizing data storage and enabling distribution of digital records, this technology provides transparency and allows users to transact with one another without needing a third party. (Brett, Forbes.com) An example of blockchain technology put to use in the workplace today is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Blockchain makes it nearly impossible to alter records due to the complexity and volume of data being recorded, thus making it a trustworthy source.

    Blockchain gives the user the chance to control their own data and manage it accordingly. This freedom to manage your data usage compared to an outside corporation will make yourself feel happier and safer. No more fear that someone will take advantage of you or market your data without your consent, all while being able to distribute your information to the necessary parties with ease. This almost sounds too good to be true, but is it? The answer is no, this is the way of the future, allowing global interaction to happen in ways that have never been seen before. For example, trade with other countries could be executed so seamlessly and efficiently and in such a way, that transactional costs would become a thing of the past. Something needs to be done to simplify and safeguard data output and blockchain options seem worth a shot.

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