Blockchain; so much noise…how do you focus on what’s real?

With so much hype around blockchain and its cousin bitcoin, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos and lose sight of what distributed ledger technology is capable of delivering to all sorts of industries- right now.  Ben Lowe clarifies how Gospel is solving real-world enterprise issues that have little to do with ICO’s or ‘crypto kitties’.

Another day, another blockchain use case.

“Blockchain” seems to be a constant, almost daily theme in the fast-paced world of business and it seems that these days every other article, headline, tweet or LinkedIn post starts with “blockchain shows great promise for (insert any industry or vertical)”.

So what’s the reality? I’d like to share the experience we at Gospel are quickly accumulating as we live and breathe this technology 24/7, and the ways in which we are using blockchain to solve actual, real-world challenges with our clients.

Theory vs reality

The challenge with a majority of what’s out there is that it’s theoretical. It’s one thing to look at new technology and then find a problem! However, solving tangible, real-world problems, in reality, is VERY different from solving them in a whitepaper.

The practical challenges of actually developing applications on top of blockchain present numerous issues just like any other tech project; security, software development, skills, on-going updates, integrating into existing systems and process and so on.

The “professional services” approach

The hype around blockchain is at an all-time high, and it’s set to continue. Not least is the publicity, and confusion, around ICO’s such as bitcoin and many others – which muddy the waters in terms of practical applications of the underlying distributed ledger technology. However, organisations that kicked off early blockchain projects are now stuck in a catch 22 situation.

These companies “explored” the possibilities of the technology in lengthy workshops, they “analysed” their business and they “found” where there was a potential match for the technology. They began projects (having purchased plenty of professional services days and access to open-source software) and then they began to hit the hurdles; how you keep the project going after the consultancy has run out and it’s been left to them to manage themselves?

Good, solid blockchain experience and skills are difficult to come by; documentation is often left unfinished; understanding how the software interacts with your data is complex; maintenance of the solution and providing support for it is hard and time-consuming. The result of all of this is many organisations find themselves in the infamous trough of disillusionment.

Start with the problem – build a solution

When building the Gospel, we didn’t start with the technology. We started with the problem. In our case, our experience is in enterprise data, and we knew that organisations have never faced such a difficult challenge in the way their data is used, shared and secured as they have now. There are almost daily reports of data breaches and traditional solutions simply aren’t cut out for the new digital, distributed world of tomorrow where demand for accurate, up to date information with tamper-proof audit trails is vital.

“When we use Gospel, we wouldn’t even know we were using blockchain”

In this new world, it is imperative that trust, integrity and granular security controls are built into data by design, not as an afterthought.

The ability to put these key properties into enterprise data is huge. The ability to give clients a platform which is produced has regular updates and has a solid roadmap is what the market is crying out for. It so happens that blockchain, or rather the distributed ledger, is perfect for building this trust into the data layer itself, freeing up the infrastructure and reducing the complexity in providing access.

So why blockchain over traditional technologies?

Gospel is built on blockchain due to some key properties such as tamper-proof audit trails and the ability to have highly resilient architectures by design. On top of these key properties, Gospel carries many other important enterprise features such as:

  • Enterprise-grade encryption
  • Integration into existing enterprise systems (inc. databases, identity management solutions and much more)
  • Consent management
  • Granular data security
  • Contextual data views – context-based such as revealing whether a person is over 18 Yes/No rather than exposing their date of birth
  • Transaction-based data sharing – a Doctor can only see the medical record history of a patient with an open case

Our clients are quickly realising the value of the Gospel platform, not just because of blockchain, but because of the challenges, we solve very quickly by design.

“When we use Gospel, we wouldn’t even know we were using blockchain” – this was a comment from a recent meeting, from a customer who has no specific blockchain skills running the Gospel platform.  We focus on the issues being solved, not on the technology underneath.

We’re very excited about how quickly this space is moving. There is a lot of noise, but our clients have realised the power of our platform to focus in on solving their real problems beyond the hype, and adoption is growing quickly.

It’s going to be a very exciting and challenging 2018!

Ben Lowe is Gospel’s Enterprise Sales Director.

For a great summary of Gospel in less than 90 seconds click here!

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