When people think of blockchain technology, they naturally think about how it enables companies and individuals to conduct online transactions in a transparent, decentralized, peer-to-peer way. It’s an innovative financial model.
But blockchain isn’t limited to financial applications. In fact, there are many ways it can and will be used as companies realize its value and adapt their processes to the efficiencies it provides.
For example, much has been discussed about blockchain’s potential as a human resources tool. Its possible uses include resume verification, storing confidential job candidate information, creating and managing smart (paperless) contracts, offering access to qualified candidate databases, and more. There’s also been speculation about how it might impact the recruitment industry, since it could be set up to connect with online ledgers of potential employees.
Health and medical
Another industry that could benefit from blockchain in a major way is health and medicine. Three years ago the U.S. Food & Drug Administration entered into a partnership with IBM Watson to explore ways to exchange data securely through blockchain technology. A year later, The Icahn School of Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital joined with the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare to open the Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research.
In the medical environment, blockchain could conceivably be used to store consent forms for clinical trials and track progress in pharmaceutical supply chains, something that has long been an issue in the clinical setting.
Supply chain management
Many problems in supply chain management could be alleviated if the industry moves to a blockchain-based model. Currently, there are too many people who participate in a supply chain and, often, suppliers, providers, and clients find themselves dealing with third-party entities rather than with each other. This often creates delays as things move from step to step. If blockchain was involved, it could bring new efficiencies to exchanges, agreements and the process of tracking goods.
If you’ve worked in the academic environment, you’re likely well aware of the need to verify credentials, a tedious, manual process that’s largely paper-based. If blockchain technology was embraced by the educational community, it’s likely that the verication process could be streamlined and work much more efficiently. It would also help reduce dishonest claims of un-earned educational credits.
These are just a few of the many industries that could—and, in my opinion, eventually will—benefit from blockchain. All indications are that it will continue to be leveraged in countless ways. It’s an exciting time to be involved with this technology, and eventually, many companies, ventures and enterprises will find themselves wondering how they got along without it for so long.