There was a lot of excitement about the disruptive potential of blockchain technology, but there's also a lot of confusion: some think that the blockchain is used only with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or is used only for illicit and harmful online transactions. In fact, blockchain is one of the many key technologies – along with the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and fog computing – that are revolutionizing companies and transforming Together, these four technologies can drive new business models and offer new value propositions, solving long-standing challenges with transparency and security in transactions involving multiple parts and large amounts of data.
To understand the true potential of the blockchain, must first define the technology, then dispel some of the common myths and finally examine some of its most relentless cases of use.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain technology is a decentralized ledger that allows a shared set of computer systems to agree that a multi-party transaction is authentic. These results are recorded permanently and consistently reconciled and updated in a cryptographically secure manner. Since the ledger is distributed among all the participants in the transaction, it exists simultaneously in several places, making it extremely difficult to manipulate the entries or tamper with the data without the other parties noticing. Therefore, what makes the blockchain so important is its ability to automate trust and transparency among all the parties that use it.
Perhaps one of the most important innovations in the blockchain space is the reinvention of the intelligent contract. Smart contracts have existed for decades, but they are now reimagined to operate and automate business processes in a completely decentralized way, allowing automation and application at the ecosystem level of shared rules of involvement, conduct, & nbsp and business processes. Smart contracts have expanded blockchain applications beyond cryptocurrencies.
MYTH: Blockchain is equivalent to Bitcoin.
REALITY: Because blockchain technology is used in Bitcoin accounting, many people equate the two or believe that the blockchain is used only in the world of cryptocurrencies. Yes, both technologies were born together, but today cryptocurrencies are just one of many applications that can be performed on the blockchain.
MYTH: Blockchain is public and anonymous.
REALITY: Blockchain used for Bitcoin is perhaps the best-known example of a public network of blockchains without authorization in which anyone can participate. Cryptocurrencies use this type of blockchain technology because it allows all parties to track, verify and agree transactions, even when individual participants remain anonymous. But this is just one of the blockchain models. Another is an authorized private blockchain that is starting to see an increase in adoption . Some big businesses – including Microsoft Walmart & nbsp; and JPMorgan among others – are beginning to distribute blockchain networks in which only known entities (such as partners, suppliers or customers) can participate. With an authorized private blockchain, a company uses protocols to reach consensus and to verify and assemble blockchain blocks. This blockchain can provide thousands of transactions per second and provide granular management and control over who sees and accesses transactions.
MYTH: A blockchain register can not be edited.
REALITY: As mentioned above, all parties have transparency in the transactions recorded in the blockchain register and each block is linked to the block before it. This transparency and visibility in a single source of truth makes the blockchain extremely difficult, if not impossible to manipulate on a large scale. However, with that being said, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that blockchain networks are secure end to end. This begins with the assurance that the data and transactions entered into the blockchain ecosystem are adequately protected from manipulation. The infrastructure on which the blockchain networks reside must also have the necessary protections. In blockchain, you're only as strong as your weakest link. If the points of integration are compromised, the whole blockchain ecosystem could be at risk.
MYTH: Blockchain is applicable primarily to the financial services industry.
REALITY: When discussing the potential of blockchain technology, most talks focus on the financial services industry. In fact, new technology use cases are emerging almost daily in many different sectors. Here are some:
• End of counterfeiting in the supply chain: & nbsp; Companies are starting to fight counterfeits by implementing private blockchain registers in all their supply chains . By creating a unique digital signature for each product or component, they can easily track providence, chain of custody, and ownership transfer for end-to-end visibility. Likewise, supply chains can improve food security and identify the origins of contaminated products using a master blockchain book
• Management of electronic health records: & nbsp; Every year deaths occur due to medical errors, some of which could be the result of health professionals who do not have & nbsp; a complete picture of a patient's medical history. By retaining health records in a private blockchain network, medical professionals may request permission to access a patient's record to achieve their specific purpose and record transactions on the decentralized accounting register. This can help prevent catastrophic mistakes like different doctors who prescribe conflicting drugs.
• Strengthening data privacy: & nbsp; Numerous large scale data breaches like those of Equifax and Yahoo show that personal information is very vulnerable when stored in online databases. With a federated digital identity model stored on a blockchain ledger, individuals could maintain greater control on their personal information, giving companies permission to access only the minimum amount of information needed and enjoying the possibility of know who has seen their information.
These are just some of the ways in which blockchain has the potential to destroy and transform industries, positively affect our economy and even save lives. A variety of blockchain use cases are still in the proof-of-concept phase, but it is increasingly clear that when combined with other leading technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence and fog computing, the potential to add new business value is almost unlimited.  Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for CIOs, CTOs and world-class technology executives.
Do I qualify?