In the Accenture Technology Vision 2018 report, 60pc of the executives surveyed said that blockchain and smart contracts would be critical to their organisations over the next three years. A key driver was the need to partner with more companies, faster and more safely than ever before.
Blockchain brings the ability to trust the data coming from partners, allowing them to transact seamlessly and focus on the value instead of managing the data. It is set to revolutionise interactions between businesses – because if data can be inherently trusted, organisations can avoid spending vast amounts of time and money on reconciliation and be much more nimble in responding to new opportunities.
The key applications that will be revolutionised by blockchain are finance, high-friction supply chains and the management of identities.
The Central Bank of India, for instance, is establishing a consortium of banks that will use blockchain as the method of interbank transactions. In the initial pilot of businesses responsible for 80pc of financial transactions in the country, it was estimated that the approach could cut costs for banks by $15bn (£11.4bn) to $20bn (£15.2bn) by 2022.
Here are four ways other businesses can better compete and partner at scale through technology:
1 Change must start at home
To spur a new wave of technology-based partnerships, companies must start inside their own walls. While existing IT systems may not have been built to handle many and varied partnerships in an ecosystem environment, that is what the future will look like – so start now.
2 Invest in microservices
Microservices are not a single piece of technology, but rather an approach to architecture. A suite of tools, such as application programming interfaces (APIs), containers and cloud are used to break applications into simple, discrete services. These can be made publicly available, allowing other organisations to partner easily.
Using an application programming interface (API) layer can simplify the task of two businesses working together on a project, allowing them to develop mutual services for smartphones, wearable devices or voice-activated speakers, for instance, without affecting their wider IT.
3 Invest in blockchain
Microservices do present a new threat of untrusted data plugging into your IT system, and automating the process raises the additional concern that no human will be there to screen out such risks. Blockchain can solve that.
Blockchain replicates information across a network on a shared record that is secure, unalterable and verifiable. Smart contracts can be self-monitoring and, as long as entry criteria are met, trust can be delegated to the system even if the parties do not know each other.
Accenture offers a range of services and platforms to help businesses invest in their own innovation and accelerate the uptake of these technologies.
4 Reinventing relationship building
Microservices allow organisations to plug in new partners at speed. If you do not need to design and build the custom interfaces each time a new partnership is created, you also do not need to spend the months of building trust with every single partner, allowing you to focus on those relationships that help you grow your business.
Businesses will be challenged to maintain a higher volume of partnerships than ever and will need to rapidly pivot between partners without sacrificing the integrity or security of their products and services. Blockchain will address this complexity by removing the question of trust.
By Graham Richter, managing director and blockchain lead for UK and Ireland at Accenture
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