Mention the term blockchain in IT circles and you may still come up with blank looks. Perhaps it’s the bitcoin background or the faint whiff of hacking that comes with non government sanctioned cryptography, but blockchain doesn’t seem to have hit the coal face of business computing in a meaningful way yet. But, think back a generation and the whole distributed network concept was out of reach of the average person, now we browse, communicate and transact over the ether from pocketable devices.
There are some aspects of IT that remain monolithic: banking and other sectors that hold personal, private, big data still remain as non distributed (in the internet sense) single repositories of information and trust. It is that trust aspect that enforces the monolithic nature of the data – you’ve got to place your data with someone or some organisation whom you trust completely.
But what if trust could be distributed? What if we could verify authenticity of data outside of those monolithic institutions? Wouldn’t that truly revolutionise our data storage and transactions? Blockchain is the technology that will allow this to happen. It already underpins bitcoin, allowing for a distributed trust mechanism for this digital currency.
The major banks and technology companies are already actively looking at what blockchain can do for them. For those of us involved in IT, particularly in consulting to business, now is the time to start reading up on this technology. The distribution of trust is coming our way, and understanding it now will help us advise our business clients on what it will mean for them.