Blockchain explained

Blockchain technology is transforming business.

Find out what it is and where to start.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain technology is important not for what it is, but for what it promises: planet-scale trust. A blockchain’s distributed ledger is an automated, collective way to capture a record of transactions or events that’s immutable and transparent. It’s an elegant approach that does away with the convoluted intermediaries that so many of today’s trust mechanisms rely on.

Blockchain is more than bitcoin and wallets

Blockchain reached the headlines because of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like ethereum. But blockchain use cases have already extended beyond the financial sector. Within a decade nearly every function in your business – including Legal, HR, Operations as well as Finance – could be using it to manage private and public records, contracts, physical assets and intangibles, through new digital tools like so-called Smart Contracts.
For example, in the supply chain it can be combined with IoT and used to track goods to fight counterfeiting, among other benefits — in fact, Cisco is already using it in our supply chain.
Other blockchain solutions can: track the contractual ownership of property (physical or intellectual), assure the accuracy of messages in a private chat room, ensure the integrity of contracts, enforce compliance and decentralise the management of everything from IoT devices to currency transactions.

Getting blockchain ready for the enterprise

But while blockchain is a radically new concept in IT, it presents CIOs with many of the same people-process-data challenges as other early-stage technologies, including the immaturity of standards and IT-team skills, concerns about security, and questions about interoperability and scalability. It takes time for industries to develop the collaborative ecosystems necessary for the many blockchain use cases to flourish.


Key resources

If you want to get up to speed with blockchain, we have all the information you need.

  • Start with this article on Connected Futures, which explores the essential value of blockchain as a tool for trust, its potential role in IoT and supply chains, and the steps business and IT leaders can take today.
  • Deepen your knowledge with this video (20 mins) featuring Anoop Nannra, Cisco’s head of blockchain. From first principles he explores what blockchain is, introduces some compelling use cases in the world of IoT, and the real-world requirements for success.
  • Read our white paper (16 pages), which sizes the blockchain opportunity and looks at what’s needed to make it enterprise ready, including the technology framework and industry interoperability initiatives that Cisco is involved in.
  • Follow our blockchain blogs to stay current with the latest use cases and industry developments.