The blockchain is an undeniably a great invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. But since then everyone is asking: What is Blockchain?
By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.
A distributed database
Explanation from blockgeeks:
Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain. Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet. To go in deeper with the Google spreadsheet analogy I would like you to read this piece from a blockchain specialist. The traditional way of sharing documents with collaboration is to send a Microsoft Word document to another recipient, and ask them to make revisions to it. The problem with that scenario is that you need to wait until receiving a return copy before you can see or make other changes because you are locked out of editing it until the other person is done with it. That’s how databases work today. Two owners can’t be messing with the same record at once.That’s how banks maintain money balances and transfers; they briefly lock access (or decrease the balance) while they make a transfer, then update the other side, then re-open access (or update again).With Google Docs (or Google Sheets), both parties have access to the same document at the same time, and the single version of that document is always visible to both of them. It is like a shared ledger, but it is a shared document. The distributed part comes into play when sharing involves a number of people.
Imagine the number of legal documents that should be used that way. Instead of passing them to each other, losing track of versions, and not being in sync with the other version, why can’t *all* business documents become shared instead of transferred back and forth? So many types of legal contracts would be ideal for that kind of workflow.You don’t need a blockchain to share documents, but the shared documents analogy is a powerful one.
Blockchain technology is like the internet in that it has a built-in robustness. By storing blocks of information that are identical across its network, the blockchain cannot:
Be controlled by any single entity.
Has no single point of failure.
In the context of ERP applications such as Asset management, or financial controlling/accounting, this technology can help reduce many redundancies that exist. Imagine facilities management or assets that are transferred across recipients. The traditional way of sharing assets or supply chain is to send these to another recipient via EDI or XML. As number of these documents and contracts are being passed to each other, they lose track of versions, and are not in sync with the other version. So many types of legal contracts would be ideal for this kind of workflow. You don’t need a blockchain to share documents, but the shared documents analogy is a powerful one. This is exactly the kind of workflow we have developed working with ERP systems such as Infor to embed powerful innovations.