Mastering blockchain for traceability and trust
Traditional blockchain implementations are easily hamstrung by the consensus process; if even one machine in the chain is low on memory, storage, or computational power, it can considerably delay the approval of transactions. This issue is handily resolved by serverless computing blockchain deployments in the cloud that access these resources on demand. In whatever manner organizations circumvent this long-standing obstacle to blockchain success, once they do so, they can avail themselves of a transactional rapidity underpinning the most time-sensitive, customer-facing, revenue-generating applications.
Wagner referenced a travel industry use case hinging on the ability to not just allow people to book travel—which obviously matters because there are only so many seats in an open marketplace—but then, while they’re traveling, to also track changes in those itineraries, monitor the changing reservations, and keep a record of the loyalty points and let people use them for purchasing.
Distributed ledger participants in this example include airlines, credit card companies, and loyalty program team members. “Behind the scenes of all that, there’s all the financial settlements that are required to make those transactions take place: both the dollar-denominated transactions and the loyalty points-denominated
transactions,” Wagner said. Timely handling of this transactional data directly increases revenues, customer satisfaction, and industry reputation.
Regulatory adherence is another desirable outcome of distributed ledger technology’s trusted data provenance. One of its foremost benefits is that participants “can browse and look at data, changes, and the times when the data was changed or accessed,” Varanasi said. They have an audit trail of everyone that has accessed that data. In addition, these auditing capabilities are a benefit to regulators as well as companies, and they mean that the people responsible for reviewing the documents don’t have to be local, Chawdhuri noted. “They can be anywhere.”
Beyond enabling auditing efficiency from remote settings, distributed ledger technology can also substantially diminish risk related to regulatory compliance, security, and data privacy. For example, if a company is handling people’s data, it is stored on a private server, and something happens to that data, the company is responsible, Chawdhuri said. But, if the data is on a blockchain, then one company is not solely responsible. “That can mitigate a lot of legal risk for third parties.”
In a healthcare scenario using blockchain, for example, the user might be a patient communicating and sharing documents between multiple parties—insurance companies, providers, pharmacies, etc. This approach also assists the various companies representing the patient because then they can say that the user has had the opportunity to know what is going on because the information is available, there’s a standard, and everybody has agreed to the standard, Chawdhuri added. Moreover, the various permissions and signatures for securely exchanging data via distributed ledger technology are optimized for storing and exposing patient data in what Chawdhuri characterized as a private manner.
The encryption, hashing techniques, and signatures involved in distributed ledger technology serve another crucial aspect of the data privacy tenet. According to Varanasi, there are a growing number of enterprise users relying on “blockchain technology for data security.” This horizontal use case includes everything from preventing attacks to recovering from them, thereby extending these advantages into the realm of backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. Data in archival or storage solutions relying on blockchain “have multiple signatures taken on them,” Varanasi said. When an object that is stored through blockchain is modified, the modified data is chained to the original object using encryption. This fact delivers myriad benefits to enterprise blockchain users, all of which strengthen the resilience this technology affords.
These benefits include the following:
♦ Data protection: From a security perspective, “every object and all related modifications are securely chained to each other,” Varanasi observed.
♦ Early threat detection: Organizations can detect any security issues early to minimize their effects.
♦ Recovery: Distributed ledger technology’s inalterability presents a trustworthy solution for recovering from any attacks or disasters—which is critical for ensuring business continuity. Varanasi indicated this attribute
“is relevant when customers want to access older data, restore some data on primary storage, or recover from a ransomware attack. Data is fully visible but cannot be modified.”