Blockchain technology does not get much hype compared to other technologies we could mention but it is quietly revolutionising some key processes – and industries.
For a while blockchain looked a little like a solution in search of a problem.
Instead, the technique is becoming the unsung hero of many processes in many arenas that have been crying out for simplification and fool proofing.
Any industry that has a supply chain can use blockchain techniques to improve the efficiency of its contracts. Many have already. Agriculture is one that, far from being old fashioned and messy, is benefitting from the virtual infallibility of a blockchain governed supply chain.
One industry that has been a little slow to see the real benefits of blockchain is telecoms. Now, though, this seems to be changing.
Four telcos are testing the idea of managing roaming agreements with blockchain techniques. If a discount is agreed between, say Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, putting the agreement into a blockchain means that it is, if you will, set in stone. Roaming, of course, is the last bastion of old fashioned agreements and settlements, where agreements are still faxed (yes, really) and fraud reporting is unbelievably arcane.
Now, though, roaming is just one example where blockchain or hyper-ledger techniques can benefit telecoms.
The IoT is the focus of many telecoms companies figuring out how they will make money out of millions of connected devices. It would be glib to say that the answer is in the data but that is the truth. The old telecoms model of selling connectivity and devices is now (hopefully) dead. The new, 5G if you will, business models need to exploit the value of data.
It is one thing to sell connectivity and boxes that bleep. It is quite another to add a watertight process on top that can monitor and report an end-to-end journey.
Blockchain is a key part of the success of smart cities, smart devices and efficiencies almost everywhere. For a long time, conferences have been discussing how much more efficient processes such as rubbish collection would be if a device told you when a bin was full (or half full but smelling really bad) and this data was processed so that the rubbish trucks’ route was optimised.
Now, it can happen. And hopefully, along with the real 5G, we might see real life examples become more and more visible. Blockchain, like the initial use cases for 5G, will be boring but very, very useful.