Blockchain is one of the most talked-about technologies in business right now. Blockchain tech has the potential to drive major changes and create new opportunities across industries – from banking and cybersecurity to intellectual property and healthcare.
But not everyone agrees on what role blockchain should play in the future. What is blockchain, and what impact will it have on business going forward?
How Blockchain Works
A blockchain is a decentralized database – an electronically distributed ledger or list of records that is accessible to various users. Blockchains use cryptography to log, process, and verify every transaction, making them secure, permanent, and transparent.
There are two general categories of blockchain:
- Permissionless, which anyone can join
- Permissioned, which requires participants to be authenticated by the person or group managing it (this category is further divided into private and community blockchain networks)
Who is Using Blockchain Already
Bitcoin is the most well-known example of blockchain technology, but it is joined by a growing number of early adopters. For example, Google, Goldman Sachs, Visa, and Deloitte are investing in blockchain projects. And businesses working on blockchain based services include:
- Spotify, to manage copyrights
- IBM, to build a tracking tool for shipping companies and retail chains
- Eastman Kodak, to create storage for stock photos
What the Future Holds for Blockchain
Blockchain is an emerging technology, so predictions are still mixed about its potential.
In a TechRepublic Research study, 70% of professionals who responded said they hadn’t used blockchain. But 64% of said that they expect blockchain to affect their industry in some way, and most predict a positive result.
A recent Trend Insight Report from analyst firm Gartner made the following forecast:
- Through 2022, only 10% of enterprises will achieve any radical transformation by using blockchain
- By 2022, at least one innovative business built on blockchain technology will be worth $10 billion
- By 2026, the business value added by blockchain will grow to just over $360 billion, then by 2030 grow to more than $3.1 trillion
Cybersecurity is one of the most promising areas of projected growth for blockchain technology. An ongoing challenge for businesses of all sizes is data tampering. Blockchain technology can be used to prevent tampering, keeping data secure and allowing participants to verify a file’s authenticity.
“We believe that blockchain technology will be transformative in the tech and IT sector in the coming years, similar to what the internet did for the world back in the 90s and early 2000s,” said John Zanni, President of the Acronis Foundation, in Forbes. “Today, part of our storage and backup software lets users notarize any digital data and put that fingerprint on the blockchain to ensure it can’t be tampered with.”
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