Bringing Blockchain to Life with Use Cases

The Blockchain shared ledger technology is efficient, private, and reliable, making it especially useful for any company that shares information across a business network. By sharing trustworthy data across a connected blockchain network, businesses can work more closely and efficiently together.

Blockchain provides a single, shared ledger to all participants, instead of each participant having separate—and possibly different—copies of the data. All participants can verify that each transaction is recorded correctly and in the proper order, so everyone in the network can trust its accuracy.

If you’re a manufacturer and you want to track something from the point of its conception, blockchain ensures that those records are complete and in the correct order. Each entry (“block”) points is cryptographically linked to the block before it, so the set and order within that set are immutable. If someone tries to change anything—the presence, order, or contents of an entry—they will be non-compliant with the ledger, and everyone in that network would know not to trust that data.

All of these attributes are highly appealing to enterprise technology teams. So, how do you go about setting up blockchain for your business? Start by making sure you really understand the fundamentals of blockchain, and move on to learning about its unique value through use case concepts. Develop your own use case, start trialing and slowly expand the trial to build up your network.

Jennifer Foley, Integration Architect – WW Client Center for Systems Innovation at IBM, explained this process in a recent interview, emphasizing the importance of use cases. Understanding different use case concepts helps you determine what type of trial might be most useful to your organization.

What Makes a Good Use Case?
Explore potential options by learning about what other companies have done, and why it works for them. Take a look at your organization, and think about how blockchain can bring unique value to what you do.

There are a couple attributes of appropriate use cases. Will your project have a significant impact on the enterprise and support your organization’s goals? Consider what kind of impact it could have on your industry, as well. Blockchain may be a good approach for industry-wide problems, like information shared among partners in a consortium.

Does your business network collaborate around shared information? If the data in question is only used by one organization, it’s probably not a good use of blockchain. However, a use case involving a shared ledger, where multiple parties need to synchronize transactions, would be a good candidate for blockchain. Use cases that require immutable records to be shared among the network – like pharmaceutical manufacturing – are also good candidates.

When you’re looking to set up a use case in your organization, seek out blockchain experts for assistance. “[IBM] partners with organizations at this stage, to bring ideas together and figure out what kind of use case will work best,” Foley said. “Do they already have a partner in that network to make it work?”

Figuring out which business transactions need to be visible to other people as well will help you determine what company to partner with for your trial. “Try to look for vendors, suppliers, or other companies that you have a need to share data with, across multiple entities,” Foley explained.

Beyond Use Cases
After use case trials, companies work on gradually growing their network and usage. Partner with companies to develop your chain code, refine the ideas, and develop a bigger scale rollout. Foley recommends looking at your company’s existing processes – this will reveal the foundation of your network. As you continue to grow your network, using blockchain for business will help you save time and improve relationships with business partners.

Roll-up Your Sleeves

SHARE Providence 2017 this August, will feature a special SHARE Academy session called IBM Blockchain on z Systems Immersion. As you may be aware, SHARE Academies typically fall into two categories: Immersions and Boot Camps. An Immersion is a day-long seminar designed to provide a deeper dive into some of the hottest topics facing enterprise IT professionals today. And with our IBM Blockchain on z Systems Immersion, we will be presenting a “deep dive” into understanding Hyperledger Fabric, the open source code that powers IBM Blockchain.

 

To learn more about how you can start using blockchain for business, watch Jennifer Foley’s full SHARE Academy presentation “Making Blockchain Real.”

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