Blog / Leadership & Transformation

Industry Applications of Blockchain

Looking for an extensive analysis of blockchain industry applications in less talked about contexts? In this post, we share with you some noteworthy examples and invite you to join your forces with the technology that will reshape many business processes.  If we were to reveal our favorite type of blog entry to write, it would without a doubt be about real-world industry applications of new technologies. So, not surprisingly, we turn our attention to blockchain technologies and are accompanied in this journey by Daniel Diemers, professor of Global Master’s in Blockchain Technologies. For an in-depth exploration and a view from the frontlines, we recommend you to watch a masterclass Daniel gave a few months back, that showcased the progress each of the industries in the focus.To understand the essence of all industry applications of blockchain, we must first give a once-over to this definition proposed by David Lee, a professor at Singapore University of Social Sciences. He defines blockchain as a mathematics-based trust machine that enhances collaborative relationships among untrusted nodes through consensus. Meaning that blockchain as a technology is a powerful collaboration tool that will have long-term implications on trust management.Daniel Diemers proposes the following division of the types of applications blockchain might have across all industries.
  • Smart Contracts
  • Authentication & ID Management
  • Registry & Custody
  • Privacy & Security Solutions
  • Information & Value Exchange
  • Networks & Infrastructure
Gartner has predicted that by 2030, manufacturing is going to make up 30% of the blockchain market, followed by communications at 14%. It might come as a surprise since we’re more used to hearing about blockchain for financial services, supply chain, or trade. Projecting 10-15 years into the future we can see that blockchain has become the infrastructure layer for many industries and up to 60% will be other than financial services. In what follows, we’re going to explore four industry arenas that are somewhat less known for their blockchain applications than fintech.Smart City is a growing field that encompasses everything related to urban living from mobility to energy, from governance to business ecosystem, etc. It’s in this context of endless challenges and opportunities that blockchain will be an important infrastructure layer to make the 2030 sustainability goals to come through. For the smart cities to function as imagined, its technological ecosystem is composed of many layers. Blockchain’s main role in this context would be to provide an infrastructure layer that would support interoperability and guarantee the security of all city stakeholders.
  • The first layer depicts the entities that “make the city” and move around from point A to B: people, of course, but also the smart vehicles, drones, and robots making deliveries and becoming part of the natural fabric of the city.
  • The second layer, which is intervened with the first one at top of the pyramid, is about what needs to happen in a city for the first layer to work. That includes communication between these entities. A lot of computing power is also needed to make this information flow fluently. We can also be certain that in 10 years, the AI systems and modules will be all over the place, as a manner of speaking. And finally, in order for a smart city to work, we need to identify who is who and where.
  • The third layer is the infrastructure that is required for the two upper layers to function. It includes 5G+ networks, Sensortech and Fintech solutions, CleanTech, AR/VR, Energy grid.
How will all this come together? The only way for it to be completely functional and up to its game is to add a trust layer to the previous ones. Clear permissions and management are imperative. So are also the organizational requirements from a cybersecurity point of view and the control of the legal aspects of it all. And that’s the main point where blockchain is a real game-changer.Smart vehicles can be considered a subsector of the smart city's ecosystem. As it happens, it’s also one where the producers are constantly experimenting and the product market is constantly going. Some of the innovations and blockchain industry applications worth-mentioning at this point include insurance, car-sharing, energy and toll payments, fast track management, and the authenticity of repairs. As it requires collaboration and for many companies from different areas to come together, blockchain would be the perfect foundation of the collaboration layer. Daniel considers smart mobility one of the most exciting manifestations of blockchain industry applications.Statista has estimated that the trade and logistics addressable market is about $5.6 tr. As we all know, in its essence, it’s about moving things from A to B and the stakeholders who intervene in the moving of these goods: exporters/importers, the forwarders or companies that work on sea, land or air to transport, the facilities and infrastructure where the cargo passes through (ports, warehouses, logistics centers), regulators and tax & customs collectors and, finally, banks. So, an average supply chain consists of all those different stakeholders and a long list of activities that have to be carried out for the delivery to arrive at its final destination. And as it happens, along the way there are many aspects where blockchain could be used to bring efficiency. In order to grasp the vast field of blockchain industry applications' opportunities in Logistics, Daniel proposes two start-ups as an example. Skycell is a startup that dedicates itself to the shipment of delicate goods in blockchain-tracked containers. It is mainly used for medical goods. All the track data is registered on blockchain: the temperature, when it’s opened, etc. to give the end-user a guarantee that nothing has been tampered with. Founded in 2017 and currently operating in San Francisco, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Shangai, Blockfreight applies blockchain to international container handling. Its potential users are all parties related to international shipping and logistics as it offers them a comfortable and secure way to check the status data of a container (location, weight, content, next destination, etc.) in real-time and reliably.In agriculture, there are actually two equally probable scenarios. What affects the agriculture industry? The demographic growth, by 2050, there will be 10 billion people to feed. All in all, we need to increase our productivity in agriculture up to 60% in order to feed all those people. And that can only be achieved with the help of technology and requirements for data-driven farming and agricultural robots. So due to the mere dimension of the operations, it will all be highly technological. The second scenario is probably going to be more common in the Western countries that are going to shift towards smaller-scale farming and work towards food transparency. Meaning that more and more consumers want to know where their food is produced. Whatever the case, both might make use of blockchain. First to make the production more efficient, the second to provide proof of provenance.Compared to smart cities, logistics, and agriculture, the entertainment market is smaller but also worth trillions and full of opportunities related to monetization and security solutions above all. Utopia Music is a startup that’s taken on a mission to help artists control and reclaim their revenues without a costly middleman. Something that would otherwise take years or be lost over time would be possible to track in one day thanks to all the records stored on a blockchain. Another growing branch of the entertainment industry is that of e-sports. Blockchain could be used for in-game currencies as well for protection against cheating. Especially now, when we have heard about serious frauds in Fortnite tournaments, the sponsors need a way to make sure they invest in honest players. A new level of all this would be Kronoverse’s Cryptofights, a fighting and role play game. It stands out for being an online game built on blockchain that doesn’t require traditional downloads. That’s possible because every move the players make is stored on a blockchain and is highly auditable. We can predict that in the future that type of solution is ideal for big tournaments.The examples we have seen in this post have all been from the startup scene. So understandably, the potential is huge, but the industries itself have not been disrupted yet and not beyond the first quarter in their adaption progress. So, to sum up, there’s space for newcomers before the dominant design is going to emerge. We encourage you all to spend this hour learning with Daniel Diemers and consider enrolling in the master's program where he also teaches.

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Zigurat Global Institute of Technology