Blockchain will revolutionize record-keeping and trusted cross-company interactions, ultimately changing the experience of every individual. The potential it creates for new business models is endless.
But how do you identify the right use cases for your company? Where do you start the journey of bringing blockchain to your customer?
As part of the Salesforce Blockchain launch, we engaged with hundreds of our customers to understand their pain points and opportunities for blockchain to improve their business models. Here's what we found.
Framework for identifying blockchain use cases
As tempting as it is to try blockchain for everything, it can best deliver business value if you can answer “yes” to the following questions.
Do multiple parties (organizations) need access to data?
Do partners need complete visibility to the history of transactions?
Is the current way of sharing data lengthy, costly, and most importantly, hard to trust?
Blockchain use cases that drive value
If you’ve answered “yes” to all three questions above, the next step is to define what value you expect to drive. Our design partner customers created an extensive business case deck they evangelized internally which included the value driver, but also, their interpretation of what blockchain technology is and why it's important.
Once you’ve created your case deck, it's time to think about the implementation of blockchain. The three key components of any blockchain application you need to decide on are:
The data you would like to include.
The partners you need to share the data with.
The value you hope to drive.
Putting these key components together will help you crystallize and communicate unique blockchain use cases to any stakeholder in your business.
Here's a list of 11 real use cases we've found by working with our customers
1. Customer validation. Know Your Customer (KYC ) is a manual process that takes a long time and leaves room for error. The process involves multiple reviewers to validate whether the customer has the right background to handle large sums of money.
By putting the entire KYC process on blockchain and adding everyone that's involved you can complete the process faster with more transparency, less checking of sources of information, and most importantly, deliver a much better experience for the customer.
Data: customer background documents
Partners (nodes): third party researchers, auditors, financial reviewers, account managers, the customer
Value: process efficiency for a better customer experience
2. Regulatory reporting. One of the key challenges in bank-related reporting is the data regulators need is dispersed across many functions including front office employees in local branches to backend systems engineers at bank headquarters. Through the combination of smart contracts and the immutability of blockchain, you can achieve the integrity of data on a single chain. Moreover, you can give regulators access to view that chain without the need to compile reports manually.
Data: audit history
Partners: regulators (from multiple agencies)
Value: lower cost of reporting
3. Cross-bank, cross-border transfers. When you send money to another country, there are multiple intermediaries involved along with lengthy form fills and processing fees. Your bank transmits a message to a bank that is an intermediary in another country, who sends a verification message to the receiving bank, the information is then sent back to confirm, and finally the money is transferred.
What if you could transfer funds with the click of a button? With network-verified transactions, blockchain can eliminate intermediaries, making transfers instant.
Data: money transfer
Partners: banks across many countries
Value: better customer experience, lower transaction costs
Media and entertainment
4. Fan-to-artist direct payments. Have you ever wondered how your favorite musicians get paid when you stream one of their songs online? There are many managers and media companies involved. Blockchain can revolutionize the music industry by automatically paying artists through blockchain-enabled smart contracts.
By connecting their music streaming app to the blockchain they remove the middleman. When their song is streamed, they are compensated immediately and in a transparent manner.
Data: streaming music records
Partners (nodes): artists, consumers
Value: new business model — better opportunities for artists
5. Ticketing. If you’ve ever purchased concert tickets from a third party vendor, you understand how frustrating the experience can be when ticket prices skyrocket for popular shows or (worst case scenario) you end up the victim of ticket fraud.
Show organizers also experience frustrations when it comes to third party vendors because it’s difficult to provide an excellent customer experience when they don’t have access to the customer’s data.
With smart contracts, and complete visibility to transactions, blockchain can lock-in ticket prices for the consumer and give a 360-view of the concert goer directly to the concert organizers so they can provide customized and relevant experiences.
Data: ticket purchases
Partners (nodes): show organizers, 3rd party resellers
Value: lower prices for the customer, improved ability to run campaigns for business
6. Loyalty programs. Loyalty programs today are siloed. You’re probably a member of several you don’t even use. What if you had just one and you could gain points from every purchase you make and use the points anywhere you want?
Blockchain’s network-driven architecture and transparent transactions make it easy to add multiple businesses into one awards program. Integrations are less costly, and businesses from across industries — hotels, airlines, coffee shops, and even food trucks can form a consortium to serve one customer with one loyalty program.
Data: loyalty points, exchange rates
Partners: multiple businesses from across industries
Value: lower cost of cross-company integration; better customer experience
Healthcare and Life Sciences
7. Drug labeling. The process to maintain labeling on prescription drugs is complex with varying requirements depending on the region where the drug is marketed. There are multiple experts who need to be involved to document various aspects of the label resulting in lengthy reviews and multiple iterations to get the label approved.
By creating a blockchain network where all the parties involved can share information and provide an immutable view of the label at various points makes it fast, easy, and less costly to update and maintain the labels.
Data: drug labels
Partners: creative agencies, regulators, pharma companies
Value: faster label updates, lower cost, better compliance
8. Electronic health records. Whenever you change doctors you need to complete the same paperwork over and over. Moreover, it’s difficult to access all of the information you need to complete the paperwork in one place.
Blockchain provides the architecture that enables sharing of a patient's electronic health records across a distributed network of providers. This eliminates the lack of compatibility across different Electronic Health Record systems, provides access to patients, and gives permissions for any other provider to access their health records safely and securely.
Data: electronic health records (or related transaction data)
Partners: providers, the patients
Value: better patient experience, provider efficiency
Retail and consumer products
9. Tracking goods to source. Retailers and their suppliers are required to certify the products they manufacture and sell are safe and comply with all regulations. Additionally, we as consumers want to be sure the products we purchase are ethically sourced.
Maintaining this information between parties involves manual processes and non-digitized forms which drives up the cost of business. Blockchain enables a real-time, collaborative network for retailers, suppliers, and third-party labs to have a shared record of a product as it moves along the supply chain giving complete visibility to the verified source of goods for both regulators and consumers.
Data: product movements
Partners: retailers, suppliers, and 3rd party labs, logistics companies
Value: ethical sourcing, cost of tracking, customer trust
10. Claims management. Insurance claims processes can be complex and lengthy involving multiple parties to assess damage, process, and settle a claim. A poor claims experience is a common driver for customer attrition and a significant source of expense for the insurer.
With blockchain, insurers can create a network where the parties involved in assessing, processing, and adjudicating a claim can have a single source of truth for information and leverage smart contracts to automate payout when predefined conditions are met. Imagine having your claim processed ten times faster. That's the potential!
Data: consumer good/product
Partners: insurer, claims processor, repair shop
Value: faster service, lower cost of claims processing
11. Credentialing and degree completion. Blockchain makes it easier to transfer schools or study abroad with a Universal Learner Record by connecting a network for universities and colleges to save student transcripts in a unified ledger and ensure degree completion.
Data: consumer good/ product
Partners: insurer, claims processor, repair shop
Value: faster service, lower cost of claims processing
Challenges of blockchain implementation
With increased understanding of use cases, we expect interest in blockchain to grow exponentially. But there's a chance you are among many IT and business professionals who aren't looking into blockchain because:
You don't have the right talent: The job market is competitive with 14 job openings per every available blockchain developer.
It's a challenge to bring the networks together: A recent PwC survey of more than 600 executives shows 44% of businesses struggle with adopting blockchain technology.
At Salesforce our goal with blockchain, as it is for every new wave of technology, is to democratize it for business. With that in mind, we have launched the industry's first declarative blockchain built into CRM. Salesforce Blockchain makes it easy to create blockchain apps with clicks, not code. Since it is tightly integrated into sales, service, and marketing workflows, network partners can adopt blockchain apps quickly. Check out our live demo to see it in action.
If you’ve discovered a blockchain use case you’d like to share, please join me and my team for a conversation on our LinkedIn page.