Book review: Working with blockchain

Bob Emmerson

“Working with Blockchain: all the basics” is a concise, clear explanation of Bitcoin and Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain) that is ushering in a groundbreaking way of conducting business. There’s been a lot of hype on the Net about Bitcoin, but this publication puts the business case front and centre and backs it up with real-world use cases.

The key message is obvious once you read it. “Business over the Internet is based on antiquated rules and processes that were conceived in the pre-Internet age and never designed for the scale, speed and granularity of today’s networked economy.” Think banks and letters of credit, says Bob Emmerson.

The 21st century’s much-needed alternative is to employ a crypto-currency, Bitcoin, and use a distributed ledger to enable cheap, fast, worldwide payments, conducted transparently and without intermediaries. This is not only doable, it’s being done. Blockchain is improving transparency and trust, simplifying business processes, creating brand-new opportunities and bringing benefits to society and businesses.

There is a clear analogy to the IoT. Although IoT is not essential for Blockchain to function, the combination packs a powerful punch. Check it out here followed by a search on Bitcoin.

The book doesn’t go into techie details but it is comprehensive. There is a brief history of Blockchain and a chapter that covers the issues that are addressed, such as immunity to hacks, the different types of Blockchain Technology and business basics.

Chapter 5 covers a key topic, where and how to apply Blockchain for business processes and it highlights aspects that add value in business ecosystems. They include: the involvement of multiple parties; areas where trust and confidentiality are important; where fast transactions are required; and where there is a community, e.g. a union, association or consortium.

Practical advice on how to get some hands-on experience comes in the next chapter. You start by installing a Bitcoin wallet, and pay for the proposed small number of Bitcoins. Then you download the Bitcoin Blockchain, and that enables participation in a distributed ledger. The authors do not advice investing serious money and speculating with Bitcoins.

Now you can make and receive payments and experience how the verification of payments proceeds transparently. The remainder of the chapter provides advice on how to identify and check use cases followed by a four-step process that will get your business up Blockchain speed.

The remaining chapters cover a variety of Blockchain solutions that include: climate change; critical infrastructure protection; financial services; government and utilities; travel and transportation; and finally the entertainment industry. The book concludes with real-world examples and references.

Conclusion: This publication is an easy, informative read that will get you up to speed with a breakthrough development that meets a real market need.

The authors: Louis de Bruin, European Blockchain leader with IBM Global Business Services, and Willem Vermeend, an Internet entrepreneur and a Professor of Economics at the Open University in the Netherlands. The book costs € 17,50 and can be ordered here.

The author of this blog is Bob Emmerson, freelance writer and telecoms industry observer

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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