After discovering the potentially transformative power of blockchain for business, you’re probably eager to find out what steps you need to take toward implementing it in your business and industry. Well, you’ve come to the right place.
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Here, I present ten steps to your first blockchain application. Deciding Whether Blockchain
As you find out more about blockchain, you may discover how it’s already impacting your industry, or certain applications of blockchain may seem obvious to you as solutions for addressing current challenges. If you’re uncertain of whether blockchain has a place in your industry, answer the following questions:
» Does my business network need to manage contractual relationships?
» Do we need to track transactions that involve more than two parties?
» Is the current system overly complex or costly, possibly due to the need for intermediaries or a central point of control?
» Can the network benefits from the increased trust, transparency, and accountability in recordkeeping?
» Is the current system prone to errors due to manual processes or duplication of eﬀort?
» Is the current transaction system vulnerable to fraud, cyber-attack, and human error?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, blockchain is likely to benefit your industry.
Examine your current business processes for inefficiencies, particular steps in the process that are prone to delays, frustration, errors, and duplication of eﬀort. The questions in the preceding section are likely to point you in the right direction.
A more general question to ask is this: “What challenges do I currently face in my transaction networks?”
After identifying challenges in your transaction network, consider various attributes of blockchain that can address the inefficiencies, costs, and other issues. For example, if a lack of trust is causing friction, blockchain’s shared ledger can provide increased visibility into transaction and asset histories to improve trust.
If business agreements or rules cause delays, smart contracts may be the solution. The goal here is to determine how blockchain can help overcome specific challenges.
When choosing a use case, make sure it’s a good fit for what you’re trying to accomplish — something that adds real value as opposed to something that could be achieved just as well using a mature technology. Your use case needs to pass the following four acid tests:
» Consensus: Does agreement across the business network that each transaction is valid to provide some benefit?
» Provenance: Is the maintenance of a complete audit trail important?
» Immutability: Is it important that the train of transactions is tamper-evident?
» Finality: Is there a need for an agreed “system of record” across the business network?
Try to choose a use case that is organizationally less complex, so you’re not overwhelmed with complexity during your maiden voyage with blockchain.
After choosing an appropriate use case, outline a clear and measurable goal for your first project. What do you hope to solve or improve using blockchain technology? What can you use to measure the success of your first project in meeting that goal?
Do you want to reduce resolution times of disputes? Speed up claims processing? Free up capital ﬂow? Reduce fraud in your network? These are just a few possible objectives a blockchain network could help achieve.
When you have an appropriate use case in mind, consider what else you need, in addition to internal resources you already have, to start on your first blockchain project. Do you need a services partner to help deploy the first project?
Do you need a platform or fabric that enables you to meet certain regulatory or compliance objectives?
Since transaction processing is becoming a team sport, a blockchain network is most successful when multiple parties are involved and becomes even more valuable and efficient as the blockchain grows. Enterprises need to learn a new model of ecosystem-based processes so it’s important to start now.
Choose a provider and platform that are the best fit for your industry and business needs. As you compare the suitability of diﬀerent providers and platforms, seek answers to the following questions:
» Do you require a permission network?
» Do you need to know the identities in your business network? For example, to adhere to regulations such as
anti-money laundering (AML) or know your customer (KYC)?
» Do you have frequent exchanges with others that could be automated and pre-programmed, freeing up valuable time and resource?
» Would you benefit from transaction resolution in minutes rather than days or weeks?
For help in identifying a platform that suits your needs, refer to the options in Hyperledger.
The next step in your first blockchain project is to develop and deploy a blockchain application and network.
For guidance on how to set up a blockchain network and start coding, see “IBM Blockchain 101: Quick-start guide for developers”
The final stage in creating and deploying your first blockchain application is actually an ongoing process. Monitor your application and network and capture learnings to make improvements and expand into a wider deployment.
For details and documentation on how to test your blockchain network, visit here. As you deploy and test your blockchain network, the dashboard monitor is a valuable tool; for more about the dashboard monitor, visit this link.
Tune in to the Hyperledger Rocket. Chat Channel at https://chat.hyperledger.org/ to join the growing community already building with Hyperledger technologies. Get answers to all your questions as you build your network, discuss what you’re working on with your peers, and become an integral part of the community as Hyperledger business blockchain technologies continue to evolve.