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Norbert Kytka, Headquarters PlattlingContact
Blockchain technology is bursting with potential, but it’s going to have to battle its reputation first. This technology is often confused with Bitcoin, the much-criticized cryptocurrency, but Bitcoin merely makes use of and demonstrates how the blockchain can be used. As with any technology, innovations can be used for either beneficial purposes or less helpful things.
What is it that makes the blockchain so interesting?
It provides a nearly tamper-proof record of transactions for assets such as houses, cars, land and even property rights and lots more. Currently, many business transactions run very inefficiently due to long idle periods, a large number of involved parties, repeat expenditures caused by system breakdowns and the verification of the process by third parties.
Considering the fact that the volume of business transactions will explode with the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), there’s demand for change. Transaction platforms which are fast, trustworthy, free of charge and which don't require additional equipment are required. They have to disclose every process to every party involved, creating maximum transparency and trust.
This is precisely what blockchain brings to the table. The data of a transaction, which can be viewed by anyone involved, is recorded in blocks and stored in the form of an immutable chronological chain. If an asset changes ownership, the transfer is automatically traceable within the blockchain. Processes which currently take days due to document dispatching, system breakdowns and the involvement of third parties can be handled within seconds using blockchain technology.
Fascinating pilot projects are currently being carried out at electric vehicle charging stations, for example. Private households are able to make their electric charging point available as part of this testing, which has to be identifiable and bookable using an app. The payment process between private persons has to be straightforward – any delay caused by the involvement of two banks would be unacceptable here.
In the production industry, a number of logistical processes intrude into the equation. Shipping companies and customs authorities are usually involved in the process between the manufacturer and customer. Parties involved in the transaction can influence the shipping status, freight charge process, freight security, customs processing and empty container management. The effect on time and money is immediately apparent here. It’s precisely in heavily regulated sectors like the pharmaceutical industry where blockchain is able to demonstrate its strengths in the area of traceability.
Though blockchain technology is still in its infancy, all major software suppliers from IBM to Oracle to, of course, SAP have recognized its potential and are already bringing the first products to the market. With its Blockchain Consortium and a co-innovation program, ERP market leader SAP is striving to be one step ahead of the competition. Both customers and partners alike are able to gain some initial experience with this technology and evaluate suitable use cases with no risk to themselves.