3 things I learned at the Blockland Solutions Conference

I recently returned from the Blockland Solutions Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. What I learned has only made me more excited about the potential of blockchain. The fact that a conference of this quality was in the Midwest just proves that blockchain is near the tipping point.

Blockchain is decentralized, distributed ledger technology – a way to securely and accurately keep track of information. You could think about it like a Google spreadsheet in which every change has to be verified by everyone who has access to the spreadsheet. The information is encrypted so that it cannot be changed and each row contains all the information from the rows before it.

It’s easy to imagine many use cases for this type of technology. In particular, scenarios in which a trusted record of transactions is useful. I’ve provided a use case later in this post.

Blockchain misconceptions

Before we go any further, I’d like to share a few misconceptions the conference cleared up for me. I think some clarification will help others anticipate blockchain opportunities.

Here are just a few things I learned:

  • Blockchain is not cryptocurrency.
  • There are many different types of blockchains.
  • Blockchain will not replace all software applications.

First, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and ZCash have gotten a lot of media attention, especially as their markets have fluctuated. But the fact is this: While all cryptocurrencies run on blockchains, not all blockchains are for cryptocurrency.

In fact, most of the business-to-business applications have nothing to do with cryptocurrency. I imagine that initial resistance to blockchain will be this misconception.

The second thing I learned more about was that there are many different kinds of blockchains. At its most simple, there are public and private blockchains. In a public blockchain, anyone can participate and most of the current usage is for cryptocurrency. I won’t spend a lot of time on public blockchain, but you can read more about it in some of the links below.

Private blockchains, however, are permissioned, so everyone who participates must be invited and known by the network. This is the most logical arrangement for business-to-business applications. There are a number of examples of private blockchains like Hyperledger (IBM), R3 Corda, Symbiont, and Quorum. In a private blockchain, a consortium of companies or industry groups maintain an agreed-upon registry.

My third and final takeaway is that, even though blockchain has amazing potential to help with many business challenges, it has a specific utility and will not replace many common applications. Blockchain isn’t going to manage complicated data sets (like CRMs, ERPs, or EMRs) or manage content.

In many cases, blockchain is a complementary technology that will be paired with other applications.

Blockchain in action

We have all had the experience of having to share some of our medical information between two different facilities. Healthcare interoperability challenges has led to some frustration over the lack of personal control of medical records. But things are changing.

Countries like Estonia and Australia are already using blockchain to manage health data and broker transactions among patients, healthcare providers, and federal insurance programs. A program like that in the U.S. would probably have to be mandated by the federal government, but it would provide a secure way to put medical record sharing into the hands of consumers.

Here at Hyland, we are actively working with our partners, customers, and industry leaders to find ways to complement and empower blockchains for business. We’ll be at the forefront of both enabling the capture and sharing of all types of content brokered through blockchain networks.

I can’t wait for Blockland 2019. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see where we go from here!

If you’d like more information, here are some resources to get you started:

If you have any questions about blockchain, feel free to leave a comment!

Scott Craig is associate vice president of Product Management, where he leads Hyland’s global vertical software product management teams for healthcare, higher education, government, insurance and financial services. Prior to assuming this role, Craig led the Lexmark product management team, integration management office, and R&D project and software release management teams.
Scott Craig
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Scott Craig

Scott Craig is associate vice president of Product Management, where he leads Hyland’s global vertical software product management teams for healthcare, higher education, government, insurance and financial services. Prior to... read more about: Scott Craig