Blockchain – A Catalyst for Digital Transformations: Problems Solved (Part 1/3)

BlockChain as a problem solver, Driver in Digital Transformation initiatives

How BlockChain addresses some of the issues faced by Digital Transformation initiatives in wanna-be Digital Economies, and enables successful transformations! A veritable problem solver and driver for Digital Transformations!

What does a Refugee Camp in Jordan, Walmart’s Lettuce and the Creative Arts have in common?

They are all utilising the power of blockchain to reduce fraudulent transactions, avoid middlemen, provide instant access, create an identity for individuals and make it easy to traverse up and down your supply chain to find out root causes and take immediate actions.

World Food Program (WFP) – Building Blocks

At the Zaatari Refugee camp, an individual shopping for Groceries doesn’t use cash or a card. Instead, a stare into a camera is all that is required to complete the purchase and issue a receipt. The World Food Program’s Building Blocks initiative has certainly been making strides in the adoption of BlockChain for transactions and most importantly, for creating identities. The identity of the person is confirmed, his record updated with his transaction and payment made – without batting an eyelid, literally!

The bigger purpose is much more powerful. Saving money by not involving intermediaries or local banks for the payouts, convenience and security for the refugees and a perfect book-keeping of records aside, the real purpose is to enable inclusion for the individuals who do not now have identities and documentation that would help them get into the mainstream. Imagine a Digital ID being created with all the transactions and inputs provided by the Jordanian Government, the border/immigration agencies and other officials – this would help prove his case and provide an acceptance where an ID is needed.

A refugee making a payment using the Ethereum based BlockChain at the Zaatari Refugee camp. Source:

Walmart – The journey of the Lettuce from Farm to Table

At Walmart, getting all suppliers down the line to provide their detailed information into the blockchain is going to help them trace every leaf to where it originated from, the number of hands it passed through and the contribution of each of the nodes in the BlockChain. If a contamination is detected, it is faster to find out the origin and cut-off the nodes fed from it, thus averting disasters on a much bigger scale.

Walmart did this experiment with Mangoes the previous year!

Without BlockChain, It took them seven days to locate the farm in Mexico, where the Mango originated from. The Blockchain built, in partnership with IBM helped them trace the fruit in ….Seconds!

Creative Arts & the Preservation of ownership:

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Blockchain based Startups involved in preserving Art and Artists’ interests are also busy with implementing Blockchain frameworks to track the journey of the creatives from the artist to the owner. Recognition of artists, providing them with business channels and enabling them to take their art to the global stage – these startups are doing this and more.

In the music industry, by having an original creation on Blockchain, a song writer or an artist will be able to make much more than what they earn today through YouTube or Spotify. Their creation can be used by interested parties and payments made simple by the use of smart contracts.

Of BlockChains & Transformations:

Digital Transformations have very specific goals to achieve:

  • Fantastic user experience
  • Scalable Processes and Optimised workflows
  • Streamlined Operations
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Enhanced Communication, Collaboration and Control

A Digital Transformation is much more than just creating an awesome website or a Mobile app. It is a fundamental change. It is the change that pervades everything from business models to supply chains. Here’s a list of components that undergo change in a transformation exercise:

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Where can BlockChain help?

Coming up with a list of issues that ail transformations, apart from the usual suspects of Ownership, Culture and Clarity of vision:

Financial relationships & Intermediaries: How can I remove unnecessary intermediaries and thus save costs!

Transactions: Having perfect record of all transactions along the way is really important – Compliance is now a major reason for companies’ failure

Data Security: Increased security, increased customer confidence. Reduce the leaks please!

Accountability: Task ownership across organisations – how to enable and enforce?

Compliance & government regulations: Needless to say, the dates and the degree of compliance matter, in every single transaction

Licensing, Contracts & Pricing: Expiring contracts, lack of stringent checks on the T&Cs

Process Streamlining: How can we create ‘smart’ processes, capable of sustaining themselves?

Reputation Management: Creating the perfect history of validated events and news

BlockChain, the distributer ledger that it is, addresses many of these issues by its very design.

The immutability of data, the security provided, the replication of data across multiple nodes, a strong peer to peer consensus network and an origin rooted in algorithms. The full chronology of events is available at any time enabling reference.

The Digital fingerprints and the digital signatures based on cryptographic private and public keys make for robust access and authentication. Coming together, these properties can be used to solve many of the issues faced.

Trials and PoCs are in progress across all areas to prove BlockChain’s fitment in enabling water-tight transformations.

Blockchain properties addressing issues faced by Digital Economies

Figure: On the left, the properties of Blockchain have been listed. Within the brackets, you have the problems where the properties are applied to solve/make better. Source- my slides.

Blockchain seems to present itself as a panacea and if the hype around the technology is to be believed then it certainly appears to be the one stop shop for all issues listed for Digital Transformation. Let’s explore further!

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