To Blockchain or not to Blockchain

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

What is a Blockchain?

Trust, Blockchain is a trust protocol. Let me explain, we write legal contacts because we don’t trust that the other party is going to respect agreements. Governments go through international banks because they don’t trust each other. You might buy expensive products or services because you don’t trust cheaper brands. It is all about trust. And the need for trust increases when the stakes are high and risky. So we put in place middlemen, contracts, ledgers, proofs, laws, and rules to compensate for the need for trust.

When to Blockchain?

Understanding the properties of Blockchain technology is important, but being aware of the properties that your business needs are key:

Do you have assets that you need to track?

Anything that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value, is an asset, it can be intangible like a cryptocurrency or digital art, and it can be a virtual representation of something tangible like a product or property. If this asset evolves in time, and you need to record its lifecycle and not just the current state. And the legitimacy of the history of that asset is of high importance. Then a Blockchain can help you achieve that. If not, a database can be a better solution for you. You should know that a Blockchain is not like any storage mechanism with the traditional database management capabilities. It does not have the “update” and “delete” utility found in conventional database technologies. Instead, it only has the “create” and “read” ability. And the addition of new data is performed with respect to a consensus mechanism.
Bitcoin is an asset, cryptocurrency on a Blockchain, the Blockchain keeps track of every bit of a Bitcoin, from the creation to the transfer between different accounts. Everledger is a company that uses Blockchain to store data relating to the manufacturing process of diamonds. Customers can view the entire provenance of the diamond, from the source to the name of the artisan who performs it and other metadata points.

Do you have a well-defined and persistent process that manages your asset?

You should be able to describe the governance of your assets, the business process should be consistent in time with no random behaviors. If yes then a Blockchain can help you automate that governance and smart contracts can add significant value to your business. If not, other distributed storage technologies like IPFS can be a better solution for your business. Blockchain once put in place, no one can alter or change its code consistently.

Are you the only custodian of your asset?

The lifecycle of assets usually goes through many parties, so there are multiple voices of truth about the asset, a collection of members in your business network manages and are involved in the history-making of that asset. If this is not the case for you, then you a Blockchain is not gonna bring added value to your business.

Conclusion

Blockchain is a promising technology, investing in the technology is not a bad decision, but don’t fall for the hype, be mindful. Do your research, start with a proof of concept, but don’t jump to production quickly.

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Aicha Fatrah

Aicha Fatrah

Software Engineer | Technical Writer | IT Enthusiast