You may have heard the word around: “Blockchain.”
Often mistaken for cryptocurrency, blockchain is different (we’ll unwind the difference in a minute).
Many think its some type of hype. The majority of people seem to think that because there is so much hype it must be a fake or fraud, right?
And if it’s so groundbreaking why hasn’t it changed my life, yet?
These are all good questions.
Let’s dive into the basics of blockchain and what it means for the future of business and life.
What Is Blockchain
Blockchain, at its core, is a new way of recording transactions. Blockchain is specifically a form of “distributed ledger technology.”
What is distributed ledger technology – or “DLT”? It’s simply a computer coding architecture where a transaction can be recorded on multiple ledgers in multiple locations at the same time.
Right now most software we see deployed in business is based on a database. There is one central storage location for data. And while there can be back-ups and other protections there is usually just one database. And while this is fast for processing and designing it creates a lot of risk.
DLT/Blockchain takes the same transaction and records it in multiple locations. The software is coded to agree the transaction did indeed happen. A then math/cryptography is used to make the recording verifiable and, for all intents and purposes, permanent. Now we have real verification that a transaction happened at that time (as opposed to a typical database which can be altered later).
And the whole point is trust. Right now we spend a lot of time – and energy – verifying the statements of humans. DLT/Blockchain promises the ability to record transactions and allow viewers to later have verification that the transaction did happen.
This cuts down costs and increases the value of the information recorded.
If you trace back most of the excitement in blockchain it is due to this trust/verification element.
Cryptocurrency Vs. Blockchain
Cryptocurrency and blockchain are not the same. All cryptocurrencies – to date – use blockchain as part of their execution and recording system. But blockchain has other uses beyond money.
Blockchain can be used in places like inventory control, medical records and other places without directly touching money.
Cryptocurrency is certainly one of the most active uses of blockchain right now – but it’s not the only one.
So separate the two terms in your head because they have different types of uses and different issues.
Why the Hype?
So why is everyone so excited?
Because the change that blockchain and usher in. Blockchain has the promise of, possibly, transforming entire industries.
Not just a business here and there but entire industries. With the full adoption of blockchain banking, finance, accounting and law could all be radically changed.
I explore that in my prior article on How Blockchain Will Change The Business World. Suffice it to say that many jobs and functions can be eliminated or changed in a blockchain world leading to more career and job changes.
Blockchain can be fundamental to many activities in the economy and change how we record and process economic activity.
Is This The Next “Internet”?
Some have likened blockchain to the next internet Is it?
I can see the analogy. The internet started slow. But now almost everything we do touches the internet.
When I walked into a post office at the beach the other week and then told me they didn’t have a computer: SHOCK!
Almost everything we do now touches the internet.
And many of us believe that before too long all of our economic activity will also touch blockchain. It’s that fundamental and will promise that many changes in our world.
Soon you won’t be thinking about it but you’ll be using blockchain. Just like you don’t think of the internet when you are listening to your favorite song that was downloaded to your phone.
What Should We – Mere Mortals – Be Doing Now?
So this exciting, transformative, technology is out there. What do we do?
We start by paying attention. We need to listen and monitor.
We need to watch our investments and our businesses. What will the change to blockchain mean for us? What ripple effects will it have?
Make sure you check out my article on the possible changes blockchain will bring.
Now is the time to be paying attention.
How are you preparing for blockchain? Do you think it will be a game changer?
Join me in the comments to discuss!
By: The Our Shawn McBride, a speaker, trainer and consultant on The Future of Business, the host of The Future Done Right(TM) Show and long-time business attorney. If you want regular content on the future of business subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.
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