While many have solely thought of Bitcoin when the term “cryptocurrency” is referenced, today it is the system they are built on that is disrupting many entities in the financial industry and beyond.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency are programmed on a system called blockchain. This system facilitates a peer-to-peer transaction network that operates directly between users without an intermediary. And even though Bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency are a Soft Trend—one whose future is open to influence—the existence of the blockchain and the concept of cryptocurrency is definitely a Hard Trend. It is here to stay with abundant applications.
The rapidly evolving technology of blockchain holds enormous promise for game-changing disruption across any number of industries and fields; it just takes some understanding to figure out how you and your organization can use my Anticipatory Organization Model to leverage this disruptive Hard Trend to your advantage.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, the blockchain is made up of a system of decentralized transaction records called blocks used to create a transaction without any input from any sort of controlling entity.
Banks and financial institutions are the most known examples of said controlling entities, especially given the common application of blockchain in the financial world. Currently, most people store their savings in a bank account at a bank, and said bank makes money by charging overdraft fees if need be and interest on loans.
The blockchain effectively eliminates the need for the bank in this example by using peer-to-peer connectivity for a secure, direct connection between all involved parties.
Many wonder just how secure peer-to-peer transactions could be, as I’m sure many are remembering the peer-to-peer networks of music sharing in the very early 2000s and the warnings of how it could make your computer susceptible to hacking. However, the blockchain is far more secure in that it utilizes cryptography to keep exchanges secure and a decentralized database of transactions, known as a “digital ledger,” that everyone on the network can see.
Essentially, if someone tries to tamper with a ledger entry, the rest of the network will disagree on the integrity of that particular transaction and will not incorporate it into the larger blockchain. In and of itself, that’s a genuinely revolutionary form of security.
I have spoken at length about blockchain technology and how disruptive it can be in the financial industry; however, other applications of blockchain technology are ready and waiting to be leveraged by the right Anticipatory Organization or entrepreneur.
Most are stuck in the current paradigm of cryptocurrency and even the future potential of digital currency implemented by the Federal Reserve. This is likely because, in their minds, a physical, tangible thing that blockchain facilitates is currency exchange, which they are already used to in some capacity with their banking apps or even Venmo.
However, here are some new applications of blockchain technology that can and will significantly disrupt the associated industries:
Communication – In early 2020, the world’s first blockchain-powered smartphone was debuted by a company called Pundi X. The beauty of this device is that all of the apps and services involved are decentralized on the blockchain, allowing users to switch to “blockchain mode” to control their own data usage.
Food – During CES 2020, the IBM Food Trust was introduced by IBM to the food industry. This system was built to facilitate authentic records in the food supply chain, allowing companies to accurately trace the specific origin of ingredients. Imagine how this can scale to help those with very specific dietary needs and maybe even help identify areas where cross-contamination of allergens potentially occur.
Healthcare – Whether it has to do with processing insurance or admitting patients to a hospital, blockchain technology can greatly improve antiquated processes in the healthcare industry. HIPAA laws are strict, so decentralizing data that only the patient and doctor can access is tremendously secure.
Personal Identification – This goes hand in hand with voting and even paying taxes. If we have our height, weight, Social Security number, voter ID, or any other information on a decentralized network, imagine how easily we can authenticate who an individual is in any case and, likewise, prevent identity theft more quickly. This may even expedite the long process of legal immigration.
Given the fact that up until this point, the most notable use of blockchain technology has been in the financial industry with cryptocurrency and now digital currency specific to a country, one must use an Anticipatory mindset when considering other valuable applications of the software.
Essentially, blockchain technology creates a virtually unhackable ledger of transactions; an undisturbed digital footprint in place for accountability. The debut of the Internet was similar to the Wild West; right away, parents and educators pleaded with children and young adults to “not believe everything they read on the Internet,” as it could so easily be altered and fabricated. The blockchain is what the Internet should be, and applied to the antiquated and dangerously unreliable systems of yesterday corrects much of society for the better.
Understanding this simple concept, we can keep our disruptive opportunity antennas up while we look into how blockchain can positively disrupt a multitude of industries beyond the four previously mentioned.
The blockchain is a definite Hard Trend; it is here to stay and will continue to disrupt. The question is, how will you or your organization leverage this profound Hard Trend while it is still in its infancy stage and either pre-solve any problems it will cause your industry or determine how it can fix problems your industry faces.
Undoubtedly, the phrase “check it on the blockchain” will eventually be as commonplace as “let me Google that.”
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.