Dante Guintu, UX Designer – Watson Supply Chain/Blockchain IBM Watson Customer Engagement, IBM, explored blockchain and its importance to today's organizations during his presentation to Argyle's CIO membership at the 2018 CIO Leadership Forum: Data Strategy & Innovation in San Francisco on Feb. 13. In his presentation, "Blockchain – Creating Visibility & Efficiency Across Your Organization's Supply Chain," Guintu explained why blockchain is becoming a critical part of many organizations' day-to-day operations.
Blockchain is a decentralized and distributed ledger technology that keeps a record of business transactions. It enables organizations to track transactions with business partners over an extended period of time. Plus, blockchain promotes data privacy and security, along with accountability among all parties involved.
There are many benefits associated with blockchain, and as such, the technology is being rapidly deployed by organizations in all industries. Yet blockchain sometimes can be tough to understand, particularly for organizations that fail to allocate time and resources to recognize the technology's true value.
"The learning curve with blockchain is steep, but it also is very exciting," Guintu said.
To deploy blockchain effectively, organizations must realize that the technology delivers unprecedented auditing capabilities. Thanks to blockchain, organizations can track transactions and modify transaction records as needed. Thus, blockchain provides auditing capabilities that are unavailable with many other business technologies.
"For most of our customers and business partners, there has to be some sort of auditing. This is where blockchain can excel," Guintu stated. "For businesses, auditing is important because much of your operations are regulated."
Furthermore, all blockchain records are easy to access. At the same time, these ledgers are secure and ensure organizations won't have to worry about putting their sensitive information in danger.
"Blockchain is the system of record for business. Records of transfer are recorded in ledgers … and as assets are transferred, this is reflected on a ledger," Guintu indicated.
Blockchain provides organizations with plenty of control too. Organizations can establish user controls to ensure that only authorized individuals can access a blockchain and modify it.
"Once a transaction is written onto a blockchain ledger, you cannot delete it. All of the transactions on a blockchain are final."
"Blockchain for business is shared, replicated and permissioned," Guintu pointed out. "You are bringing in your business partners … and including them in your [blockchain] network. Or, you can include an auditor in your network as well."
Ultimately, blockchain helps bridge the gap between an organization and its business partners.
Blockchain ensures an organization can share certain information with business partners from any location, at any time. The technology also guarantees an organization can maintain accurate, up-to-date records and collaborate with business partners to achieve the best-possible results.
"We have siloed records between each company in a business consortium," Guintu stated. "So, for one transaction, it is replicated, point to point and siloed. This is inefficient and vulnerable … but blockchain helps bring records together and make them more transparent."
Perhaps best of all, blockchain promotes transparency between an organization and its business partners.
"Blockchain is the system of record for business. Records of transfer are recorded in ledgers … and as assets are transferred, this is reflected on a ledger."
Organizations frequently struggle to disseminate information to business partners in a fast, efficient manner. Now, blockchain makes it easy for organizations to do just that. The technology allows organizations to use ledgers to share information with partners, and by doing so, maintain constant communication that can lead to successful business relationships.
"Blockchain makes a transparent and shared ledger across all of a company's business partners," Guintu said. "Once a transaction is written onto a blockchain ledger, you cannot delete it. All of the transactions on a blockchain are final."
Today, blockchain is available to business professionals and consumers. There are many notable differences between blockchain for business and consumers, however, and business professionals must ensure that any blockchain they use provides data privacy and security. That way, business professionals can minimize the risk of publicly disclosing sensitive information.
"Blockchain for businesses are generally very different. They are permissioned and private," Guintu stated. "In a business [blockchain] network, you just want to work with your current business partners."
Lastly, with blockchain, business partners may reduce or eliminate the need to use cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency is a popular option for transactions that involve anonymous partners. It provides a fast, easy option to complete transactions, but it lacks transparency.
Comparatively, blockchain empowers business professionals to establish and maintain business partnerships and track these relationships both now and in the future. The technology enables business professionals to maintain transparency with partners, and as a result, take the necessary steps to foster long-lasting business relationships.
"In the cryptocurrency world, there is anonymity, and you don't necessarily know who you are dealing with. In the blockchain for business world, you have to know your partners," Guintu noted.
As a designer and storyteller, Dante collaborates with developers and offering managers to build an outstanding user experience for blockchain solutions. Initially with the IBM Blockchain core team, Dante now works in Watson Supply Chain to help solve user and business pain points using distributed ledger technology.