IBM Blockchain: What is Blockchain Technology?

IBM Blockchain: What is Blockchain Technology?
Supply Chain Digital May 2020
By Jack Grimshaw

It’s widely believed that blockchain technology can do for transactions what the internet did for information. But what actually is it?

Simply put, blockchain is a shared ledger, used to record transactions, track assets, improve visibility and build trust in supply chain networks around the world. Immutable records mean no participant in a network can change information once it has been recorded, meaning errors must be reversed instead of covered up.

To help supply chain leaders learn the benefits and better implement blockchain technology into their operations, IBM Blockchain has published Blockchain for Dummies. The third edition of the publication, readers can download it for free to grasp basic fundamentals, understand how blockchain truly works, see it in action with use cases, and understand the steps to implementing it.

Smart contracts are also a key benefit of blockchain technology. These rules are stored on the chain and automatically executed, meaning conditions for corporate bond transfers, terms for travel insurance to be paid and much more can be defined quickly, and with great ease.

Not only does blockchain improve visibility, but it also helps build trust. With the food supply chain as an example, the technology can trace when, where and how produce has been grown, picked, shipped and processed around the world. This shared record of the truth is a significant boost to efficiency, transparency and confidence.

Blockchain networks can be public, private, permissioned, or built by a consortium. Public networks, such as Bitcoin, allow anyone to participate in and join, whilst private ones are controlled by an organisation. Private networks are still decentralised networks, however.

Permissioned blockchains are generally set up by organisations who have built private systems, enabling restrictions on participants. Consortium-built chains can be shared between organisations, ideal for business where shared responsibility is required.