Most people nowadays are familiar with Bitcoin, the decentralized peer-to-peer electronic cash system that made its first appearance on the global scene in 2008. Bitcoin allows anonymous people to make transactions online without requiring an intermediary. No one administrator controls the Bitcoin network because it runs via a public ledger (aka an ever-growing list of transaction records) that is copied and held by all parties within the network.
Bitcoin solves the problem of non-reversable transactions – essentially removing a substantial hurdle to transacting by eliminating the need for a trusted third-party middleman to authorize the transfer. 400,000 Bitcoin transactions occur daily as the flow of value is now able to easily andsecurelymove from one party to another with complete auditability. Since its birth, it has never suffered a hack.
But Bitcoin is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the shiny object that has garnered worldwide attention, but the engine that it runs on is the actual gamechanger. Movement of Bitcoin, from its creation to sequential transfers of ownership, are recorded on a blockchain.
A blockchain network consists of “blocks” (aka data records with timestamps and signatures) held in place chronologically on a “chain” linked by cryptographic hashes. Created automatically on each block, the hashes link the transaction to its previous block and future block. The hashes automatically update if the block of data updates, thus breaking the chain. Because the blockchain distributes copies of its ledger to its network, any one modification and subsequent chain breakage can be quickly discovered and fixed.
Bitcoin proved to the world that Blockchain is efficient and effective, but it did so on a limited scale as a public system based on anonymity. It did establish that blockchain datacannot be changed and doesn’t require the trust that a third-party provides to facilitate transactions. It is fully auditable and presents a complete chronological history of each change to a block’s status. These factors, combined with the immutability of the blockchain, present a new paradigm for cloud data management.
Businesses are now beginning to recognize the latent value of a blockchain network to connectall of the parties involvedin the business (from step A to Z). Any company that relies on data will benefit from this technology. Businesses will benefit from increased reliability of data that comes directly from the source and is tamper-proof, the many savings inherent in cutting out middlemen and unnecessary processes, and the customer will have much more visibility into the real authenticityof ingredients, parts, or services.
The biggest hurdle for businesses to overcome when adopting a blockchain-based data management methodology is the complex technicality of developing the network. This is where Salesforce injects tremendous value. Salesforce Blockchain is a low-code platform that enables organizations to share verified, distributed data sets across a trusted network of partners and third parties. Built on the open-source technology of Hyperledger Sawtooth and interoperable with Salesforce Lightning, Salesforce has built a bridge between this newly distributed data source and its flexible CRM platform.
By pooling permissioned data amongst a group whose value is a dynamic part of the whole system,Salesforce Blockchain will remove the excessive friction added by using trusted middlemen while simultaneously providing transparency into previously siloed data.
Think of any process today where data has to be authenticated and shared across multiple third parties. Chances are the experience is clunky, slow, and leaves you questioning why the process was built that way in the first place. That’s where blockchain can help.
Consider these potential use cases:
Buying a house: Blockchain can help simplify the document transfers between the appraiser, inspector, real estate agents, title company, bank, county, buyer, and seller.
Supply Chain Management: Consumers can verify the authenticity of purchased goods through a blockchain-enabled supply chain. Products can be accurately tracked across different locations and stages in a supply chain.
Filing a car insurance claim: Blockchain can help the flow of communications between your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, claim’s adjuster, auto body shop, and tow shop.
Healthcare:Patient medical records can be stored on a blockchain (with patient permission locks set to view the data), which will make it significantly easier for medical practitioners to get a better idea of a patient’s medical history. Blockchain would also help tag and track drugs at every stage of the supply chain, providing a medium to assure the authenticity of the drugs.
Food Safety:Blockchain technology allows quick and easy verification of history, location, and status of a particular food product. Farm origination details such as batch numbers, storage temperatures, shipping details, expiry dates, and factory and processing data can be digitally recorded on the blockchain. End-to-end traceability would improve the efficiency of the food supply chain.
Transferring colleges: Blockchain can authenticate courses and transcripts from high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities, making the transfer process for students and schools alike much easier,
Intellectual Property (IP):Adding a blockchain system can serve as a platform which provides accurate and clear ownership of IP assets. Tamper-resistant blockchains can provide a timestamp to indicate the exact recording time of an idea. This will solve any disputes regarding the origin of an idea. Blockchain also gives intellectual property owners the added advantage of protecting their IP assets from infringers like, for example, patent trolls.
Real Estate:Using blockchain technology in real estate has the potential to revolutionize rental property payments. A shared database will enable better decision-making and cost-efficiency as stakeholders, tenants, owners, and service providers can interact with the transaction history or ownership information in a secure manner. Smart contracts help streamline various processes such as rental documents and releasing apartment ownership. Automation of all processes on a decentralized blockchain platform could cut out additional inspection costs, property taxes, and registration and loan fees.
Salesforce Blockchain can help with all of these processes and more, but it will also superpower the network via its permissioned and automated functions. Blockchain is a vital technology that will power the next generation of data management, and with Salesforce, the barrier to entry becomes very low.
Evan Natelson is a Salesforce Consultant at Customertimes. He has more than 14 years of Salesforce experience in Administrator, Business Analyst, Project Manager, and Consultant roles and has been awarded 5 Salesforce certifications.