Blockchain 101: An ISV’s Guide

Learn the basics of blockchain technology and why ISVs should expand their businesses to capitalize on this emerging technology trend.

With Bitcoin dominating headlines over the past several months, it’s been nearly impossible not to be aware of the stir blockchain technology is creating among investors and in the IT world. But have you considered how blockchain could contribute to the growth of your ISV business?

To help you answer that question, DevPro Journal is taking an in-depth look at this emerging opportunity with a series of articles aimed at providing you with information and inspiration. To set the stage for the series, here are the answers to some basic questions — the who, what, when, where, and why — of blockchain.

Who invented blockchain?

There isn’t a straight answer to this first question. Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym for a person or a group of people who published the 2008 Bitcoin white paper and demonstrated the viability of blockchain, but his or her true identity (or identities) is speculation.   

What is blockchain?

Basically, blockchain technology is a distributed database that is continuously shared and synced. The database isn’t stored in one location; instead, it’s hosted by multiple computers and it’s always available to any of the participants in the network. When it’s altered, the network of “nodes” validates the participant’s identity, and all participants receive a virtually instantaneous update. The new transaction combines with other transactions to create a new block of data in a way that can’t be altered. Because a blockchain database isn’t stored in one place, it’s not vulnerable to cyber attack. These features make it the perfect solution for Bitcoin.

When will applications beyond cryptocurrency be introduced?

They already have. A Harvard Business Review article last year provides a timeline that shows how blockchain has evolved. After bitcoin, blockchain supported Ethereum, a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts. Ethereum enables developers to create networks that, for example, register debts or release funds in accordance with terms of an agreement, without the need for a mediator. Other innovations that will improve blockchain’s speed and already superior security.

Where else can blockchain be used?

It’s easy to see how financial institutions can leverage blockchain. The HBR article points out that 15% of banks expected to use blockchain in 2017 and blockchain research is underway in all major financial institutions in the world.

But, in truth, blockchain could be used anywhere. Think of an application in any industry that involves confirming identity, exchanging sensitive data, mediating a contract, facilitating traceability, or requiring transparency. Blockchain technology may be the answer. As Internet of Things (IoT) devices become more prolific, blockchain technology could provide an option for added capabilities. Need a refrigerated case that automatically places an order when a restaurant ingredient is depleted? Blockchain technology could enable the order—and secure payment.

Why Should ISVs Care about Blockchain?

If industry buzz and investment dollars are any indication, Blockchain isn’t something you’ll be able to ignore. Your customers will want to use the technology for its versatility and security, and they will want you to integrate it into their businesses. Blockchain is open source, and at this point, building and using blockchain technology is more accessible than ever before. You can dive in with step-by-step guidance like this offer from Pusher to learn blockchains by building one.

There is potential for blockchain to impact every area of our lives — how we communicate, do business, vote, manage property, shop, maintain health records, and more. It’s early in blockchain’s history, but it’s prime time to align your business with the coming revolution. 

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.