It’s the time of year when futurists and all manner of tech analysts decide to break out the crystal ball and make some predictions for the coming months and years. Of course, I’m no different, but I don’t need the title of futurist to do it. I’ve decided rather than write one long-winded article about several trends, to break it up a little and write a series of shorter articles tackling each one I see having a major impact on both businesses (vendor and end client alike) and consumers in general.
The first off the blocks ? Blockchain.
Blockchain is something I believe will have an impact across a lot more than just Bitcoin financial transactions and the Internet Of Things. At the moment the majority of thinking behind Blockchain stems to the definition around it as a decentralised and distributed digital record, one that can only be updated by consensus of a majority of the participants in the system. Right now everything digital today is centralised, and therefore can be manipulated and hacked. Not so with Blockchain. And users remain anonymous, privacy is maintained.
We can think even bigger — let’s put health records, voting, ownership documents, marriage licenses and lawsuits in the blockchain. Eventually, every dataset and every digital transaction could leave a “fingerprint” there, creating an audit trail for any digital event throughout history, without compromising anyone’s personal privacy. – Mike Gault
The strength behind Blockchain technology is in the authenticity of records, content and transactions, and its decentralised nature. Which opens up the possibilities of many use cases beyond FinTech.
- Proof of ownership of digital purchases and content
- Proof of authorship of digital goods and content
- Digital trading, transaction history, transfer and ownership authenticity
- Code authorship in application development
As Mike Gault described above, every type of document and type of record could be made a part of blockchain technology. In which case, every piece of transacted data within the Internet Of Things, every handshake between devices and the parsing of information between them, could also become part of the blockchain. From a corporate point of view, this is invaluable and the backbone of the Industrial Internet.
The consumer side of IOT is far different, and I’ll tackle that in another article.
For Blockchain, this is only the beginning. Take the following definition as a hint: a distributed database that serves as a public ledger.
Or this one: I especially like this definition by Nathan Hourt, CTO of FollowMyVote:
A blockchain is an audit trail for a database which is managed by a network of computers where no single computer is responsible for storing or maintaining the database, and any computer may enter or leave this network at any time without jeopardizing the integrity or availability of the database. Any computer can rebuild the database from scratch by downloading the blockchain and processing the audit trail.
In other words, and concentrating on its decentralised nature, Blockchain has the potential to upset the apple cart among today’s storage providers. Why ?
- Cost – A decentralised storage system would reduce the cost of storage
- Security – Client-side encryption is superior
- Speed – A decentralised Peer-to-Peer network would beat a centralised server
When you consider that Dell and others are currently pushing analytics to the edge of the network as an IOT strategy, it makes perfect sense to do the same for storage. Which puts vendors whose strategy it is to sell Flash arrays and multiple servers of centralised storage capacity in a quandary in the next few years. Even the ECM (Electronic Content Management) market could be at risk.
It also pulls into question just how long cloud-based storage services can hold out at the same time.
So, the prediction is this:
- Blockchain will become the lynchpin for security, data transactions and authentication for the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet
- Blockchain technology will ultimately disrupt centralised and cloud based storage services
- Blockchain technology may also, due to both points above, create the backbone for machine learning and true artificial intelligence
Will Blockchain become all these things and more ? What’s your take ?
This article was written by Theo Priestley from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.