With a wide range of conceivable applications – from the secure tracking of valuable goods to the verification of original parts – blockchain is currently at the center of intense debate. Dr. Carsten Böhle, Technology Consultant at Lufthansa Industry Solutions, explains why new processes are essential to seizing the technology’s potential.
Why do people think that blockchain technology has so much potential?
Blockchain technology offers one main advantage: It eliminates the need for a trusted third party and is capable of performing the function otherwise played by banks. What is more, it could also take over functions performed by service providers with digital business models, such as Airbnb. The blockchain makes trust digital. It is essentially a decentralized database that stores information permanently and prevents it from being edited or changed. Because every link in the blockchain has a complete copy of all information, the technology creates transparency and fosters trust.
What specific uses are there as a result?
A wide range of uses in a variety of sectors are conceivable. In the pharmaceutical industry, blockchain technology would make it possible to trace the production of medicines, enabling the sector to identify counterfeit drugs earlier in the process. Blockchain technology could be used in aircraft maintenance to help verify the use of original parts. It could also be used in the logistics industry to track the shipment of valuable goods, such as diamonds, from start to finish. Furthermore, the blockchain could make it impossible to forge freight documents and help manage them through access rights. All told, blockchain has the potential to replace centralized platforms and enable cross-organizational, trustworthy workflows whenever multiple parties cooperate to manufacture and transport certain goods.
"Blockchain is not the answer to every problem per se. Our task now is to work with companies to test its productive use, to learn and create space for innovative process ideas."Dr. Carsten Böhle
Technology Consultant, Lufthansa Industry Solutions
What is the current status quo? Are companies already actively tackling such projects?
It will still take another five to ten years for blockchain technology to become mainstream. However, it is important to test the technology today so that it is able to unleash its potential. Right now, many companies are still trying to transfer existing processes to the blockchain without making any additional changes. But for an innovation to achieve its full potential, you have to use it correctly. Electric engines permit higher productivity than steam engines because they have the potential for mobility. Thanks to standardization and the better coordination of processes, ERP systems lead to greater productivity at a company. In terms of blockchain technology, this means that blockchain is not the answer to every problem per se. Our task now is to work with companies to test its productive use, to learn and create space for innovative process ideas. If we succeed, the potential uses will become reality faster than ever expected.
The benefits of blockchain technology at a glance:
- Automation of trusted third parties
- Creates transparency and consensus
- Unchangeable historic data
- Real-time visibility for all involved
- Cross-process and cross-organizational tracking
- Hampers fraud and manipulation