Blockchains Practical AsociationsJonatan Alava
Talking blockchain is a sure way to get a lot of people to pay attention to you nowadays, sadly its also very easy to confuse your audience. This is mostly a symptom of too many complex conversations merging into one trendy cacophony about the future of technology/economics and how blockchain somehow sits under all these massive waves of change.
My intent on this article is to be a little more pragmatic and talk about Blockchain and some of it's applications and at the same time to invite readers to consider it as a solution to current problems.
Blockchains, networks and decentralized applications
It helps to establish an understandable language when talking about the blockchain domain. Let's clarify some common questions.
What is a blockchain? A blockchain is a decentralized data store shared across a network. Read my previous article for a simple conversation about Blockchain.
Is there more than one? Yes, a bunch. The most popular ones that you may have heard about are Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Why have more? No simple answer, but you could argue each tries to resolve different problstrongs and implstrongent different use cases.
What are their applications? Each one has been built with a different purpose. For example Ethereum is intended to act as a decentralized platform to write applications that run on it's network and execute commands on the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
What is a dApp? Short for Decentralized Application. It describes an app that runs on top of a blockchain and does not rely on any central processing or data storage to complete its tasks.
Using Blockchain to solve my problems
Now some clarifications have been made, we can talk about blockchain solutions. To begin with, how would a company start looking at a blockchain based solution? First make sure you clearly understand the problem you are trying to resolve. Second identify whether a decentralized solution is a good place to go to solve your problem.
Blockchain, like all technology, is not a silver bullet. It will not help you solve all problems you may currently be facing, and simply attaching the blockchain label to your project will not make it more efficient, innovative or even work.
Naively and as an initial rule of thumb, blockchain is a good match for problems that relate to inefficiencies sharing ledger compatible data (i.e. simply avoiding a data generalization since blockchains are not great for distributing very large data at the moment). It also helps when multiple participants within a process do not trust each other, when a process is too heavily reliant on a central authority or even when multiple parties have to review and approve changes to ledger compatible data in order to complete any tasks. These generalizations of problems can be applied differently to different domains ranging anywhere from efficiently reviewing and approving shipping ledgers to efficiently and safely providing peer to peer services.
Blockchain, like all technology, is not a silver bullet.
How to create the solutions will vary. Many have chosen the route of defining their own blockchain plus network while others are simply building decentralized applications on top of existing infrastructure. (see efforts like https://ethlend.io)
Decentralization and a new way to look at apps
It's almost natural to identify that dApps will drive innovation, not blockchains. Intuition may lead us to see that there can only be so many networks that will be widely adopted or popular enough to drive a killer app with worldwide reach at least in the near future.
You could imagine killer dApps focusing on domain specific problems, such as a shipment ledger that could be used to keep track of provenance and inventory at harbors. The dApp could run on a mobile device that workers could operate wirelessly and process containers within seconds without needing to verify with any central authority
Currently there is so much noise around ICOs and other crypto based projects focused on raising funds, that it's hard to pinpoint or even try to predict what the decentralized killer app could be or even which underlying blockchain will power it. It seems innovation is currently focused on a new way to fund technology companies and projects rather than building the next generation must have application.
Why would my business need a dApp?
Like most software solutions, a dApp will either create new revenue streams, streamline current processes making you more efficient or simply re-define the way you do business allowing you to expand your target audience or customer base.
An overly simplified and practical example could be an invoice processing dApp that would allow a business and its vendors to look at the same invoices plus their history at the same time. This would allow everyone to understand in real time and without checking with any central authority the state of accounts.
If you are interested in finding out more about how Build can help you bring your Blockchain or DLT solution to the market, do not hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our website at https://hellobuild.co/blockchain