Digital transformation can revolutionize your business, help engage your employees and better integrate the needs of your customers within your business. From dry cleaners to food delivery, the way you communicate and manage data is the key to growing your business in the 21st century.
But what if the power of digital integration leaves your business, your customer information and your intellectual property open to attack? That’s a major concern for SMBs, as cybersecurity attacks become increasingly common.
“With the growing prevalence of data breaches and the massively interconnected world we live in, new ways to verify, identify and protect privacy will be game changers,” says Gideon Kimbrell of Forbes Technology Council.
2019: The year of living dangerously
Experts predict various trends in IT for 2019. Forbes advocates “dueling AI” as a major breakthrough, while Gartner includes intelligent apps and analytics on their list. But one advancement appears on virtually every list as an essential technology for 2019: blockchain security.
As businesses become more interactive with their customers — and as the speed of these transactions increases — security is a growing issue. For SMBs, this is a critical concern, because even a small breach can stall their business, hurt their brand and incur crippling costs for recovery. Recent reports by Forbes and Social Report are increasingly convinced that businesses should take a serious look at Blockchain.
“In a new era of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (and other similar online data privacy legislation on the way), Blockchain is poised to take its place at centre stage in today’s economy,” says Kimbrell.
Refresh my memory: What is blockchain?
The blockchain is a shared online ledger that anyone can view as it records exchanges of data. Using it, two parties can make transactions directly with one another — there’s no need for an intermediary and each party can see the details of that transaction in real time. By design, it’s heavily encrypted, so this online ledger cannot be tampered with.
The blockchain links data from different sources and locations into virtual time-stamped blocks. All the blocks are linked in the order in which they’re created. This prevents hackers from breaking into the information blocks because blocks in the chain cannot be edited, and new blocks of information need to be verified by all computers or nodes attached to the chain — a process that is known as consensus.
Because blockchain eliminates the need for centralized authentication of large-scale transactions, the speed and cost of those transactions are vastly improved. “Prior to the advent of the blockchain, there was no way to secure and validate ownership in a digital asset or verify a transaction in a trustless, public manner,” says Arthur Iinuma of the Forbes Agency Council.
Real-world applications: Beyond currency
Let’s say you have a website with images that you want to release for viewing by the public, but you don’t want anyone to use these images for their own purposes or modify the information in them without permission. Images come from various authorized sources and are put onto the site for viewing.
Every computer linked to this chain needs to verify the user, so information with a mathematical equation is sent between the nodes in the chain to authenticate the source. Any computer trying to hack into the information will be denied if it can’t verify the correct equation. This prevents unauthorized users from performing tasks such as modifying data, downloading images or stealing information.
“Blockchain technologies offer a radical departure from the current centralized transaction and record-keeping mechanisms and can serve as a foundation of disruptive digital business for both established enterprises and startups,” according to Business Wire.
Are you ready for blockchain?
According to Gartner, “Business leaders are forging ahead with their digital business initiatives, and those leaders are making technology-related risk choices every day. Increased cyber risk is real — but so are the data security solutions.”
SMBs who wish to increase the speed and number of transactions in their business, but also to ensure the security of those transactions will potentially benefit from blockchain.
Businesses that benefit from blockchain technology are those that:
- Transfer rights of intellectual property
- Grant licenses
- Sell company shares or ownership
- Manage rewards programs
- Wish to share and interact through a customer portal
- Manage data from patients or third parties
With blockchain, businesses can share information, gather additional information and manage transactions involving that data with increased security in a decentralized system. For SMBs wondering how this technology will fit into their business, Gartner has broken down the risks, costs and benefits of blockchain in their infographic, “Are you Ready for Blockchain?”