Read Time, 4 min.

Ask a random person about blockchain, and you’ll probably get an answer involving bitcoin and cryptocurrency – assuming that he or she is even familiar with the term. But blockchain has a lot more to offer and is significant across all sectors and industries – from banking to government to healthcare and beyond. The potential of blockchain is as unlimited as the when the Internet began. The technology has been considerably underexposed so far, and if our society wants to benefit from its possibilities to the fullest – this is something we have to change in 2018.

What is blockchain?

For those who aren’t yet up to speed on the technology, a blockchain is a safe, digital and tamper-proof ledger, in which transactions are verified by a widespread network of computers. The technology makes it possible to extend information outside the company walls, using its shared processes with suppliers, clients and partners.

Blockchain makes it possible to set up an open, transparent and verifiable system, offers a safe way to digitally trace assets and has the potential to completely redesign company processes. Explaining the full details would require us to exceed an acceptable word count for this article, but in a nutshell the blockchain offers a solution for transactions that are based on mutual trust.

Real-life examples

So what does blockchain mean in practice? In 2017, the world saw various interesting blockchain business cases, including:

  • Increased booking accuracy for Webjet – in collaboration with Microsoft, the Australian organization developed a blockchain based solution for its booking and payment system. Thanks to the solution, Webjet’s system is now safer and less error-prone.
  • Bank Hapoalim gives bank guarantees online – up until recently, customers had to physically visit a bank office to apply for a bank guarantee. Thanks to blockchain technology, the bank can handle the entire process safely online, from application to the issuing itself.
  • More efficient transport insurance process for Maersk – the transport organization developed a blockchain based solution together with Microsoft, that enables it to handle claims more efficiently, to collaborate more effectively and to gain insights in real-time locations of goods at sea.
  • Identifications for everyone with ID2020 – Microsoft is collaborating with Accenture on ID2020, a project to give the 1 billion people worldwide that don’t have an ID document a way to identify themselves through blockchain.

What to expect in 2018

Based on what we saw last year, 2018 is promising to be an exciting year. But in order to be able to profit from blockchain on a large scale, it is important for companies to start investing in knowledge about the blockchain’s possibilities. For which business problems will blockchain be able to provide a solution? And for which problems will it not?

Many companies still lack this kind of knowledge about blockchain. Looking at the blockchain maturity model, it quickly becomes clear from the way companies are using the technology that it is still in the early stages.

80 percent of the organizations are at the first level, meaning that they don’t have any blockchain experience and that they haven’t defined processes or scenarios. About 15 percent has taken it a level further. These companies have defined the potential scenarios and have some experience with blockchain. That means only 5 percent of the organizations have reached the last two levels, where they actually deploy the blockchain.

How can blockchain help your organization?

Of course the blockchain is not a silver bullet that offers a solutions for all business issues. To find out if blockchain can help their business, organizations should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do multiple parties share data? Would a complete and reliable shared system of record benefit each of the participants in a business relationship?
  • Do multiple parties update data? Would there be a greater data accuracy and timeliness if multiple participants could record and propagate concurrent transactions?
  • Is there requirement for verification? Would tamper-proof logging increase transaction throughput and reliability among semi-trusted business partners?
  • Can intermediaries be removed? Would the removal of intermediaries reduce cost and complexity?

The more questions a company can confirm, the more likely it is that blockchain will result in business advantages – and that learning more about the technology will be worth the investment.

Gaining a competitive advantage

Although a lack of knowledge might limit the potential on a societal scale, it does offer business opportunities – specifically for companies that are willing to learn more about the technology in 2018. By investing in more blockchain knowledge now, for example by mapping how the technology can help to further the organization, it is possible to gain a competitive advantage. Now there’s a perfect goal for 2018

Want to get started with blockchain?

Microsoft Azure offers a platform to develop, test and deploy various blockchain solutions and to quickly set up a test environment. Blockchain on Azure is compatible with any kind of blockchain, easily connected to different data analysis and AI tools and fully scalable. Create a free account today to get started right now.

Try Microsoft Azure for free

Get started building your next great idea with Azure

Discover more related articles per industry:

Education

  • Northern Ireland moves to cloud-first education

    Northern Ireland moves to cloud-first education

    Northern Ireland moves to cloud-first education All teachers in the region now being equipped with Surface Pro laptops Transforming how education is provided in Northern Ireland over the next decade is a crucial goal for the region’s Education Authority.  To meet digital skills needs over that period and beyond, the authority is implementing a versatile […]

  • a person sitting at a desk in front of a computer

    Reimagining Uninterrupted Learning at Sacred Heart School in Tullamore

    As students and teachers found themselves away from the classroom environment and learning from home, schools were again adapting to different ways of learning to ensure quality education continues. For the Sacred Heart School in Tullamore, Co Offaly, the staff and student body were well prepared to deal with this upheaval and continued to deliver […]

Finance & Insurance

Government

  • Two people inside using Surface Go in office

    How technology is transforming the work of governments

    Governments have the ultimate responsibility to their citizens. People depend on the services they provide like no other institution. Whether in healthcare, education, business, roads, railways, water – it’s essential that government institutions are always at the forefront of social and digital trends. Cloud-powered technologies are playing a critical role in helping government agencies to […]

  • a plane sitting on top of a grass covered field

    Fáilte Ireland Rapidly Adapted and Innovated with Microsoft Power Apps

    Fáilte Ireland Rapidly Adapted and Innovated with Microsoft Power Apps  When the Covid-19 pandemic closed offices globally and truly changed how every organisation functions, it created additional unanticipated challenges for many. Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, was one such organisation which had migrated much of its work to the cloud. The tourism body, which employs 450 people, identified that […]

Healthcare

  • Two people working in Healthcare with a Windows device

    Medical device provider builds an Azure data estate for any future

    Danish med-tech company Coloplast makes innovative care products for people with intimate health challenges. To help maintain productive customer relationships and better understand the needs of patients, Coloplast migrated from an on-premises data warehouse and business intelligence (BI) solution to Microsoft Power BI, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, and other Azure services. The migration is part […]

  • A woman undergoing a scan

    Predictive maintenance is improving quality of life for cancer patients

    With cancer affecting more than 17 million people annually, a figure set to rise dramatically in the coming years, efficient and cost-effective treatment is essential. Since deploying Microsoft Azure IoT, IBA Worldwide, a leading developer of medical equipment for cancer treatment, has been able to reduce the cost of maintenance and improve repair times for […]

Manufacturing

  • a man holding a paint spray

    What we can learn from AkzoNobel’s digital transformation

    Savvy businesses are always on the lookout for ways to improve what they do and differentiate themselves from the competition. From organisational restructure to the development of entirely new business models, the quest for continuous improvement takes many forms. But one common factor in almost all modern business leaders’ plans is an emphasis on technological […]

  • Uncovered: 4 Essential Field Service Trends For 2018

    Uncovered: 4 Essential Field Service Trends For 2018

    In a changing world of innovative new technology, connected devices, and shifting employee and customer needs, what trends are shaping the future for the Field Service industry and how can you embrace them? Trend #1: Putting the right tools into the right hands “It’s about empowering the field service engineer with more than just the […]

Retail

Discover more related articles per dossier:

Customer Stories

  • Big data boosts business for beverage company

    Big data boosts business for beverage company

    Contemplate, if you will, the multiple choices available every time you want something to drink. Water? Juice? Soft drink? Do you want a single-serve can or a six-pack? Or maybe you just grab a liter bottle. The fact is, we as consumers expect a lot of options and the global non-alcoholic beverage industry delivers. Arca […]

Digital Transformation

  • Follow the Leaders: What Competencies are Required to Get AI Right?

    Follow the Leaders: What Competencies are Required to Get AI Right?

    Every technology goes through an age of discovery and an age of implementation. Today, AI is hurtling full speed through its age of implementation. Companies are applying this technology to empower employees, engage with customers and transform their businesses. “All the big tech companies are spending money on AI capabilities. They have explicit visions to […]

Press

  • Image of a man and woman smiling

    Microsoft and Connect at Catalyst Inc

    Microsoft and Connect at Catalyst Inc It’s an exciting time to be working in the technology sector in Northern Ireland. More than ever before we’re seeing increased numbers of entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, and indeed multinationals setting up in the North. Working together and learning from each other encourages a strong technology ecosystem and ultimately yields […]

Security & Privacy

Tips

  • Group of two female and one male office workers brainstorming in informal office setting. Both women are using laptops while the man is writing. Large screen shown in background.

    2019 Modern Selling Trends in 5 webinars

    The relationship between buyers and sellers grows more complicated each day. Every potential partnership requires finding the right buyer, fully understanding their business, tracking progress through the buying cycle, and engaging them with the right content—when and how they want it. These shifting dynamics underscore the artistry of modern selling. When the time is right, […]