Welcome!

Artificial Intelligence Authors: Corey Roth, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Machine Learning , FinTech Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

The #Blockchain Question | @CloudExpo #FinTech #AI #DX #MachineLearning

One of the challenges is determining, ‘when should I be thinking about blockchain?’

The Burning Blockchain Question - Should I Be Thinking About It?

Shiny new toy syndrome. We all see it, we all experience it. Who doesn't like the shiny new toy?  Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Sadly, frequently without even looking at what problem they are trying to solve. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. The reality is, as Gartner put it, that ‘most initiatives are still in the alpha or beta stages' and ‘Enterprises are still deciding how to navigate this technology.'

One of the challenges is determining, ‘when should I be thinking about blockchain?' It's a question I get asked frequently, both from the business and from technologists as well. I have heard comments as far ranged as ‘I have no use for blockchain as my business has nothing to do with bitcoin' (a common misperception I wrote about a while back Blockchain - Why its so much more than bitcoin) to ‘I want to use blockchain to replace all my database systems' (a definite case of shiny new toy reaction).The reality is, as is usually the case, somewhere in between the extremities. Let's talk about some of the things that might be reasons to think about blockchain as potential tool to help solve a business challenge.

Chain of custody
This is one of my favorite concepts when talking about blockchain. Anyone who has ever watched a police procedural understands the basic concept of chain of custody. If I have a piece of evidence, I need to ensure I can document the entire chain of people/places where that evidence has changed hands. For it to be valid evidence in court, that chain can not be broken. There can be no gap, or gray area, as to who had control at any point in time. This parallels quite nicely into the business world. You have assets, whether they be physical or digital in nature. You need to be able to adequately and reliably track those assets. If that chain of custody is important to the business, and you have had challenges being able to track that chain of custody, then blockchain may be an option. Let take a look at a couple of examples.

  • Mortgages: We are all familiar with mortgages. Banks buy and sell mortgages to each other all the time. Some of you may remember a little problem with mortgages and the economy back in 2009? One of the many problems that occurred was that some banks were selling the same mortgage to multiple other banks. Suddenly home owners had multiple banks and mortgage companies claiming ownership of their mortgage and demanding payment (I had several friends live that problem). The challenge was forensically tracking down who was the true owner of the mortgage. Chain of custody, pure and simple. There is a great blog that discusses how blockchain might have helped in that situation here.
  • Supply Chain: Ultimately, if you think about it, supply chain is all about chain of custody. I have product that originates at its point of .creation. That product moves through various channels, handled by various entities, until it reaches its destination or consumer. For any industry, knowing where that product has been, where it currently is, and where it is going is crucial, and can be a challenge. Some recent examples across industries looking at blockchain as a solution include:

Chain of events
Chain of events is similar to chain of custody and could overlap (such as in supply chain, which as well as tracking the asset, is tracking events that occur with the asset during its lifetime). I call it out separately as there are other business scenarios specific to this concept. Chain of events is exactly like it sounds, tracking a series of events where it is important to know when the events occurred, and have a trusted way of verifying the event and where it occurred in the sequence of events. For example:

  • Coursework and transcripts: There has been a lot of discussion and investigation into using blockchain to help maintain and track course work, ultimately providing the information in college transcripts. University of Texas recently did a fascinating POC in that space
  • Electronic Health Records: Probably the best example of a chain of events. Your health care is a series of events, treatments, medications, tests, etc., that are sourced from many locations. Having a way of ensuring the valid sequence of those events is a critical part of your health care. I recently wrote about how that industry is looking to blockchain as a possible way of solving the challenge.

Trust and Multiple parties
Inherent in both of the discussions above is that there are always multiple parties involved, and, due to that fact, being able to trust the information is key to the success of the system. Invariably in most systems today, all the parties have their own copy of information, whether it's a transaction, an asset, or an event. Duplication of information, discrepancy in the information, causes significant time, resources, and money being spent on reconciling and re-confirming the information.

  • This challenge is well known in the financial services world, which is why there are third-party clearing houses whose sole purpose is to validate and reconcile business transactions, providing that extra level of trust needed between parties. This is probably the most well-known and understood use case in the blockchain space. (and why many third-party clearing houses are spending a lot of time and energy on investigating blockchain)
  • I recently had a conversation with someone in the specialty pharmacy space. One of the challenges they have is that multiple entities are involved in tracking the events that occur with a customer. The simple example they gave me was verifying health insurance. Throughout the process, as each business entity processes the flow for the customer, a check is done with the health insurance for coverage. Even if that check has been done previously, it's done again, because that check was done by someone else. This is time-consuming and costly. They are looking at blockchain as a way of possibly dealing with that rework and trust issue. This falls both into the supply chain as well as the EHR both discussed above.

Technology is the vehicle, not the destination
Those of you who know me, know one of my favorite mantra's is ‘Technology is the vehicle, not the destination, figure out where you want to go first, then choose the vehicle that will get you there.' Blockchain is a fascinating technology that could potentially have transformative impact on a variety of industries. That being said, it's still just a vehicle, just a tool. When to use it should be based on business needs and goals. The scenarios I described don't mean ‘If this happens you should use blockchain.' They are meant to be guidelines as to when you might want to be considering blockchain as the possible vehicle. As technologists, it's our responsibility to help the business understand what vehicles and tools are available, and what the tradeoffs involved are. I am thankful to have blockchain as one of those tools and options available to me. Where it goes is still up in the air, and time will tell if it is transformational or not.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is VP, Principal Architect at Cloud Technology Partners. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
Here are the Top 20 Twitter Influencers of the month as determined by the Kcore algorithm, in a range of current topics of interest from #IoT to #DeepLearning. To run a real-time search of a given term in our website and see the current top influencers, click on the topic name. Among the top 20 IoT influencers, ThingsEXPO ranked #14 and CloudEXPO ranked #17.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arvind Radhakrishnen discussed how IoT offers new business models in banking and financial services organizations with the capability to revolutionize products, payments, channels, business processes and asset management built on strong architectural foundation. The following topics were covered: How IoT stands to impact various business parameters including customer experience, cost and risk management within BFS organizations.
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...