Series Introduction: ‘Your Guide to the Future’
Here at B2B International, we’re always thinking of the latest innovations and emerging ‘megatrends’ shaping our clients’ industries and markets.
So, for every month in 2019 we decided to delve a little deeper into each of these trends and produce a mini-guide looking at what it is, how big it will be and the opportunity it presents for b2b companies.
Our complete ‘Guide to the Future’ is also available as a handy desk calendar (see above) – click here for details on how to get your hands on one.
This month’s topic is Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. Enjoy!
What is it?
A blockchain is a transaction ledger that cannot be edited, adjusted or changed retrospectively. Transactions are validated by a large network of computers and information is stored in blocks and linked using cryptography such that any changes to a block would invalidate all future blocks in the chain. Blockchain transactions are therefore considered safe, secure and verified.
How big will it be?
Businesses across a multitude of different industries are heavily investing in the development of applications utilising blockchain – so much that the technology is expected to generate US$3 trillion by 2030 (Source: Gartner).
What’s the opportunity?
The applications for blockchain extend to numerous b2b industries. Take automotive for example, where the inherent traceability of blockchain data means manufacturers can track individual part and vehicle movements, both in the supply chain and post-sale. It can therefore can used to contend with counterfeit parts and defect-driven product recalls. The same also applies to the food and drink industry, where the ability to trace contaminated or unsafe products can help with recalls and alerts.
The logistics industry can also benefit from the technology. Blockchain allows the various parties involved with the shipping of goods such as senders, receivers and carriers to adopt shared records of ownership, location and movement in order to optimise operations and maximise efficiency.
Another major benefit of blockchain for businesses is smart contracts. These are digital contracts that store a business’s terms of agreement and execute automatically as soon as a transaction takes place. These contracts are logged and verified in the blockchain ledger so that every party has access to identical copies which cannot be altered. This allows businesses to communicate directly, removing the need for third parties, minimising the risk of human errors, avoiding manual record keeping and making the contract process quick, secure and efficient.
Blockchain technology also underpins cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, which in itself could have interesting applications in the future. For example, blockchain-based wallet services can be used by drivers to enable cashless micropayments for tolls, congestion fees, electric charging and parking.
The inherent transparency, security and traceability of blockchain means there are many promising applications for b2b businesses across numerous industries.
For example, it can help to optimise supply chains by making it much easier to track individual parts and finished products, recording both location and ownership details at every stage of the journey.
Blockchain is also promising to transform traditionally time-heavy, paper-heavy and information-sensitive processes with the introduction of cashless payments and smart contracts.
These benefits have the potential to disrupt and revolutionise many different industries, and businesses willing to adopt the technology early, before their competitors, will be able to create and realise new value and gain significant competitive advantage.