While there are numerous benefits that come with blockchain there are still many CEOs scratching their heads as they try to make sense of what it can really do for their businesses. Here, we explore why it’s important; how this transformative technology will change how we conduct any exchange of value with each other in the future; and how the technology is more accessible than you might think.
Blockchains allow for the immutable (unchangeable) record of data and the automatic execution of digital agreements known as smart contracts. Blockchain applications are becoming increasingly important to help businesses share accurate information quickly, securely, and transparently, stored on ledgers that can only be accessed with permission. Helping to track transactions such as orders, payments and much more, it optimises record keeping, holding information safe from fraud or vulnerabilities and eradicates the need for third party validations.
Where can blockchain bring value?
Blockchain can bring many benefits across numerous industry sectors. For instance, in supply chain, helping organisations to verify the source of their products and track their movements from factory to warehouse, and onwards, by offering a digital space where all data is held securely. Another supply chain application is the detection of contaminated or counterfeit products. Blockchain applications help to build trust with customers by offering proof that the goods they have purchased are exactly as advertised. In certain industries such as food and automotive, where transparency is important to comply with standards or to meet regulations, the use of blockchain is growing exponentially.
In financial services, blockchain is already providing numerous operational advantages and areas of service differentiation. Applications are being rolled out across the world for hybrid trade finance activities, internal finance functions such as recording payables and receivables transactions, payments, settlements and more. Across each of these areas, blockchain provides numerous advantages, including improved financial control, reduction of risk, heightened transparency, and auditability. More so, it can deliver cost savings by streamlining processes and removing the need to pay third parties to oversee or approve an agreement or transaction. And it also significantly reduces the risk of fraud due to the immutable nature of the information it controls.
It is blockchain’s ability to deliver accurate and timely data stored as a confidential record, only shared with people within the network, that makes it such an attractive proposition to any business that transacts with its customers digitally. As businesses look to automation to optimise and accelerate many of their other day-to-day processes, they can also optimise customer service processes and take the pain out of disagreements by automating their contracts with blockchain.
Blockchain applications can be integrated with customer data and CRM systems as part of secure processes. Doing so significantly enhances the process of creating customer documents such as legal
contracts. Instead of having to rekey data stored on the CRM, the blockchain application allows the business to auto-populate using the data from the CRM platform. Not only does this streamline the process but it removes the risk of human error.
Blockchain applications also allow users to easily build rules and set criteria, determining what information is required in different situations - for example, removing an auto-renewal provision from a contract at a certain price threshold. By adding this rule in a blockchain application, businesses remove the need to manually change the provision on the CRM platform. This again removes the risk of error and therefore strengthens the customer relationship.
On the subject of customer data, businesses face an ongoing challenge of managing customer data securely, with the pressures of data protection compliance always in mind. This risk that can be significantly mitigated through blockchain applications. In fact, this is the most important feature of blockchain technology as it enables businesses to create verifiable and secure CRM records. This is especially useful for businesses that source customer data from variety of sources. This includes anything from internal data, online information or subscription databases. With blockchain, all records are encrypted, making them almost impossible to hack. And because each record is linked to the one before and after, hackers would have to alter each individual record in the chain.
Looking to the future
In the not-too-distant future, we predict that blockchain applications will become increasingly valuable to a variety of sectors including financial services, government, insurance and logistics. They will be an efficient alternative to disputing contracts with lawyers or other bureaucratic systems – saving time and eliminating the financial burden that often accompanies contract disputes.
With so many efficiencies, and trust and transparency benefits on offer, why aren’t all businesses using blockchain applications already? As CEOs and their teams start to realise the advantages of blockchain, their biggest hurdle will be finding a team of skilled developers to build a blockchain platform. Tech talent is in high demand right now and these skills can be difficult to come by. However, there is an alternative solution, and one which makes blockchain far more accessible, and that’s through low-code.
The low-code approach allows non-technical users to develop blockchain applications without the need to write complex code. Of course, expert programmers, cryptographers and computer scientists are still required to create the base upon which blockchain applications can be built. Once this is in place blockchain applications can be successfully developed using low-code platforms.
Thanks to the availability of low-code platforms incorporating blockchain, we believe blockchain will become far more accessible to many more enterprises. It’s potential across so many sectors is undeniable, and rather than continue to question what’s in it for the business, we anticipate CEOs asking instead, when they can start to reap the benefits.