The number of blockchain use cases is constantly increasing. But still, killer applications are missing. It does mean that the developers have a chance to offer new applications.
The proportion of those who already use the blockchain technology is currently only six per cent. The number of industrial users had already been at exactly this level in 2018 and 2019. Despite all operational restraint, two-thirds of the board members and managing directors are thinking of blockchain. Thus, the majority of managers have recognized the potential of the blockchain, which can also be used to transfer values and rights in parallel with the exchange of information. The transfer is not only done anywhere and in real-time. What is crucial is the ability to peer-to-peer transactions whose content is reliable and does not provide attack surfaces for later manipulations. This gives business process automation a new basis for action. But before that, a quick thought required about the economic risks inherent in the current reticence towards blockchain. Remarkably, this reserve is reminiscent of the years of discussion of cloud-based data storage. A discussion that had a significant impact on how supply and demand could be distributed in the dynamically growing cloud market.
By making the blockchain’s peer-to-peer architecture technologically unemployed, it is challenging the core of its business model. This is especially the case when the intermediary can hardly contribute anything substantial to the added value of his customers beyond the intermediary function. Challengers in the field of housing brokerage or online retail have already put themselves in position with lean blockchain solutions. The sharpest weapon of these newcomers is that they can fully automate the business process and take advantage of the resulting cost advantages to enter the market at much lower prices.
On the user side, the greatest benefit arises wherever the own value-added share of a product is particularly high. The blockchain also creates exciting options directly at the process level to save costs. The basic optimization principle is to condense business processes, which usually involve a whole range of stakeholders, into a single process, which can then run with a minimum of testing and time. A good example is the so-called order-to-cash process, in which the order data of a purchased product is compared with the information of the receipt of the goods to be able to decide whether a supplier invoice is to be paid in full or whether additional claims have to be made first. In practice, the areas of purchasing, goods receipt and accounting cooperate, as well as often enough the specialist department that triggered the underlying ordering process. In this mixture, the test processes are associated with high costs and often lead to considerable delays in the process flow. It will be completely difficult if, on top of that, consultations with the suppliers are also required.
In a blockchain, so-called smart contracts take over the processing. These are software protocols that fully reflect the terms of a transaction process and monitor compliance with them. In the example of the purchasing process, a correspondingly aligned smart contract determines fully automated to what extent the deliveries meet the order specifications. If there are no differences, the transaction runs through the blockchain in its entirety until payment is made. In this way, the work of purchasing, materials management and accounting is condensed into a single process, which is processed fully automatically until payment is made. In a comparable form, companies are given a wide range of opportunities to synchronize the operational value creation processes of their business with the commercial processes. Thanks to its decentralized, open and cryptographic properties, the blockchain ensures that it results in a minimum of process costs and maximum reliability. This is also the case with the maintenance and maintenance of delivered industrial goods, where an IoT sensor system measures the output and functionality of the systems. A blockchain solution compares the measured values with the conditions of the smart contracts in which the respective service level agreements are stored. In the event of discrepancies, appropriately agreed transactions are triggered, such as service assignments or credits.
The corresponding solutions are already being implemented in numerous industries and fields of application. The spectrum ranges from forgery-proof bills of lading to usage-based non-life insurance to electronic trading venues. Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that all these scenarios are still niche. What is still missing is a bunch of applications which proves the disruptive power of blockchain beyond cryptocurrencies.