I have been in the blockchain industry for years, and based on my work as an advisor within an ICO company, I know that businesses are looking for enterprise blockchain solutions. But what’s the difference between bitcoin and blockchain? Here I plan to discuss the differences between the two, as well as how blockchain can be used in business.
First, bitcoin is based on blockchain — and many of the cryptocurrencies are based on bitcoin. Enterprise blockchain is not only about the exchanging of digital funds in the form of tokens or coins; it focuses on building enterprise solutions to exchange information between the companies internally or externally. I strongly believe that if we remove the word “coin,” and therefore “ICO,” from our conversations about blockchain, we can start the dialogue with a clear foundation. Enterprises are looking for a solution that can help to exchange information between the different lines of business, such as external parties and users, without compromising the privacy and security of users and data. Blockchain brings that built-in security, thanks to underlying cryptography, and it also brings privacy since it doesn’t disclose user information such as names or other identifying information.
Consider the health care industry, for example. Hospitals, insurance companies and health care providers all have access to patient data. What if there was a common platform with end-to-end security that enabled various organizations to exchange information without disclosing the true identity of patients?
The word “consortium” plays a very significant role in the world of blockchain. A consortium is an association of various companies that work together on building a solution to enhance customer experience. There are various kinds of blockchain implementations, including private, public and a mix of both, which is a consortium chain. There is concern around the decentralization because, in the case of the private blockchain, there is a single entity or point of contact that can control the information, which works against the idea of removing a middleman or decentralized computing. I believe the consortium chain does address the above security concern. In the case of consortium blockchain deployments, there is a group of parties that makes decisions, rather than a single entity.
That brings us back to why I think we can have a more constructive conversation around enterprise blockchain if we eliminate the term ICO from the discussion. Have you noticed me using the word “coin” or talking about raising funds or giving some kind of incentive or tokens? The answer is no, and I believe the term ICO leads to a path of raising funds in which users pay money to collect coins, and the entity raising the funds uses that money to develop a product or provide some kind of service. Enterprises right now are wary of the confusion around blockchain, but by not bringing in the term ICO, enterprises can avoid the association with various failed ICOs, in which products or companies failed to deliver, or lost funds because of a hack.
I always like to raise questions like, “What business problem can we solve? How can blockchain integrate with existing infrastructure and solutions, like databases or big data components? How do internet of things and blockchain integration work?” All these questions drive the conversation around the enterprise capabilities of blockchain. Right now, IBM and Microsoft are the leaders in this space. Consider this solution by Microsoft, and take a look at the flow to understand how blockchain technologies integrate with technologies like big data, cloud storage and NoSQL databases. IBM walks you through almost the same use case and provides step-by-step details on how companies can deploy blockchain as part of their enterprise solution architecture. I believe that blockchain as a service, with the capability of writing and deploying smart contracts with a couple of clicks, will be in high demand as the technology matures and there is more awareness about the various solutions available.