Blockchain has been perceived as a buzzword by the general public and potentially by every business industry. But companies like Amazon, IBM, Walmart do not see it as a buzzword at all. In fact, these companies are exploring the power of blockchain and how it could help track more efficient shipments, store data better and prevent fraud. There have also been other cases where some have speculated that blockchain technology could prevent voting fraud, food, and logistics.
When it comes to business innovation, there is a lot to cover with blockchain as its unlimited potential is still left to be discovered by businesses looking to better serve customers and secure operations in a safer manner. On an episode of IT Visionaries, we had Amber Baldet (LinkedIn), CEO and co-founder of Clovyr, and one of the leading voices in enterprise blockchain to talk to us about the future of blockchain and how enterprises could integrate blockchain into their operations.
Formerly a blockchain Program Lead at JPMC, Amber spent three years working with some of the world’s largest enterprises to understand how blockchain can drive business transformation. She left to found Clovyr, a company that is solving a huge problem: how businesses can build blockchain apps easily and at scale.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the conversation.
Are Businesses Ready for Blockchain?
With the cryptocurrency boom gaining massive hype the last couple years due to press releases and white papers, blockchain moved to the forefront for businesses looking to find more secure ways to achieve a hold on data that they are collecting. Amber says that companies are already using blockchain, but full use of the technology is still somewhat far away
“I think it is starting to happen. I think our expectations are very high because of all of the press releases and consulting firm white papers. Also, if you were looking at technology like artificial intelligence and something that you can deploy blockchain within a specific product line and see results quickly, you can see how that might mature.
“When we start to look at decentralized technologies that require different parties to come together and create a network while bootstrapped, it’s hard to say blockchain will be sufficient enough to do an entire infrastructure modernization project when you’re not even really sure what the business benefits are going to be yet.”
Blockchain, A Ledger for Security
While blockchain provides a myriad of solutions for businesses to provide better security for data, there is still some speculation on if blockchain can be a formidable solution for security measures. Amber mentioned that businesses should not be looking to blockchain to dump all the data in one place.
“Well, hopefully, it’s not by trying to dump all of that data onto some sort of blockchain itself. I think that’s a terrible idea from a data privacy standpoint. But using a blockchain or a distributed ledger as this kind of connective tissue between different decentralized data stores, that can get really interesting. At that point, you’re shuttling around pointers to information that’s still either stored off the chain in a more traditional database or over time probably more permission chains that are kind of connected to each other.
“Blockchain is probably going to be a similar kind of organic evolution of each institution trying to solve a real business problem that they have. Perhaps that’s simple auditing for fraud prevention. Maybe it’s decentralized document signing within your own organization or across your own sub-legal entities. I mean, there are a lot of things that you can do without needing to get together 20 different banks or healthcare providers, what have you, around a table with a bunch of lawyers before you decide that you’re going to start the development process. And fostering that kind of organic growth and innovation will make it a lot easier to really innovate across the industry if you think of a blockchain as more of that kind of connective tissue than the destination for everyone’s shared data.”
The Challenges of Building Blockchain
Identity is the elephant in the room when it comes to blockchain for businesses. We still would have to rely on current identity providers like Google and Facebook to attest who is really who. It can become a complex game and although the promise of blockchain could solve many challenges in particular voting fraud, Amber is hesitant to say that blockchain can solve these issues and that we still have a long way to go.
“In a similar way, personal identity on the consumer side, there’s not a single source of truth. There’s not even a decentralized source of truth that you can reach out to. We still would rely on current identity providers, which in this case we’re probably talking about Google and Facebook, to attest to who a human is. So any kind of application where you need to prove that a single human is just one person is incredibly complex to do in these kinds of systems. They’re relatively easily gamed. Until that is solved … That’s why you don’t wanna start building things like voting applications for things that matter on blockchain now.
“In order to solve identity in these decentralized systems, you also need to have individuals be the owners of their private keys that access that information, and I mean, I see how difficult it is to get my parents to be able to manage their passwords. Do we really want them managing private keys, that if they’re irrevocably lost, you lose access to your insurance information?”