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Blockchain, the peer-to-peer distributed ledger that is used to validate transactions, thus creating an immutable record, is getting a lot of buzz of late from observers of the technology, particularly for promising potential blockchain use cases in industries like financial and legal services. One such excited proponent, Bill Caraher, of law firm von Briesen & Roper, puts the "sweeping implications" of the technology this way:
Implementing blockchain could determine "the authority of documents and [prove] their originality, their state, their disposition, their destruction, and just be the index of the real story," the CIO and director of operations told Editorial Director Sue Troy in the cover story of this month's CIO Decisions. It could also "lead to speedier resolutions; it could lead to better evidence gathering [and establishing] foundation for a case," he said.
Caraher isn't alone in his enthusiasm over the technology and its implications; technology vendors active in this space, such as IBM and Microsoft, told Troy that they're receiving inquiries into blockchain from industries outside of finance and legal services, including utilities, supply chain, healthcare, auditing and real estate. Indeed, while the financial services industry has won the status of early adopter because of its early awareness of bitcoin, experts say that blockchain will benefit many other industries. But there is one thing still missing that is keeping this and other potential blockchain use cases from taking off, and that's the full development and productization of the technology, writes Troy.
Blockchain implementation all starts with Stage 1: sorting through possible blockchain use cases and scoping out a technology plan for them, a process that is more difficult than it seems and probably the most important.
"The most pragmatic question [for IT to ask about blockchain] is, To what products does blockchain apply; but more pragmatically, how does blockchain not apply?" Jeff Garzik, co-founder of blockchain services and software company Bloq and a core bitcoin developer, told Troy.
Flip through our cover feature to learn about how to pinpoint potential blockchain use cases and the critical steps to putting them into action. Plus, we answer technical questions and home in on the consumer use case.
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