Trust, traceability and transparency are commonly quoted as the significant benefits of blockchain technologies. Providing a univocal system for authenticating, validating and storing transactions, it brings along a single and secure data set, which might be extremely convenient for companies of any size.
However, blockchain supporters recommend not to separate this technology from existing Enterprise Data Management to get substantial value from corporate applications. It means that it should always be combined with current database solutions, workflows and business services to gain more scalability and performance, add monitoring and reporting features.
The lesson comes from companies that are piloting private blockchain solutions, strictly controlling settings and authorising the participation of a restricted number of external partners or stakeholders. Most of these projects are achieving good results, but also highlighting that scalability and performance are still headaches to be solved. Interestingly, the smart integration of data management and blockchain-based systems proves to offer measurable benefits and allows to overcome some deficiencies that these technologies have if considered individually. Why is it such important to manage them hand in hand?
Remember that the blockchain has limited data storage capabilities, while companies usually have to process and archive a massive quantity of data generated by business activities. A structured and enduring database is therefore needed to support operations, enable data-driven decision making, and ensure regulatory compliance. Companies are likely to get the utmost value if relying on a mix of data coming from corporate processes, external sources and the blockchain.
We know that siloed data management strategies are obsolete and self-defeating, but information accuracy is still a concern for many organisations when approaching data integration or migration. A possible turning point is making blockchain applications interact with a unique and trusted data source, mitigating risks of multiple, heterogeneous systems that could provide untrustworthy assets.
If successfully implemented and integrated with enterprise data models, the blockchain can have a significant impact in lots of industries. McKinsey estimated that financial businesses could save up to 110 billion dollars in five years by improving transactions security. Big Pharma is leveraging this technology to fight to counterfeit and improve safety along the supply and distribution chain, while food companies are using it to enhance traceability and quality of raw ingredients and consumer products.
Blockchain thus represents an excellent opportunity for businesses and their operations, provided this innovative technology is managed and integrated into corporate processes and data models.