Blockchain technologies promise new economic, business, social and technological models that can pervasively impact business and society. Blockchain technology is commonly associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, though it could end up transforming a number of important industries, from health care to politics.
It is a collection of transactions that a crowd oversees and maintains, rather than depending on a single regulatory entity, such as a bank or a government, which hosts its data on one server. As each record of transaction is created, it is confirmed by a distributed network of peer-to-peer computers. It is then paired up with the previous transaction record in the chain, thereby creating a “chain”, a blockchain. As this entire blockchain is retained on this large network of computers, it ensures that no single person/entity has control over its history and this certifies everything that has happened in the chain so far. It also ensures that nobody can go back and tamper with the records, thus giving it a built-in layer of protection that is not possible with the usual standard, centralized database of information. Electronic voting systems and healthcare systems are trying to use it so as not to allow tampering with votes or patient records.
Blockchain technology is redefining business in areas such as settlement speed, efficiency and security of transactions. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must understand the implications to exploit this disruptive, but immature, technology.