September 22, 2016

Blockchain – A Platform for the Next Generation Connected World

Markus Hautala

Head of Blockchain Solutions, Tieto

Blockchain has been described as email for money and the best known application of the technology is Bitcoin. However, the technology itself has vast number of uses beyond cryptocurrency and it is expected that the market for its applications will be measured in the trillions.

Blockchain has quickly become one of the most hyped technology innovations since the Internet. In 2015 The World Economic Forum (WEF) identified blockchain technology as one of the six megatrends shaping the future of society.

During the past year the blockchain technology has garnered huge interest in various industry domains; within banking, supply chain management, healthcare and public sector to name few. The blockchain is an immutable ledger of transactions  that is shared by a business network - a single source of truth for the network. The element which makes the technology so transformational is that no trusted party is needed to maintain it - instead of a trusted middleman the rules which are commonly agreed by the business network are followed and automatically executed by computers that form the network.

One of the reasons why this technology has created such a huge interest in fairly short time is that it has the potential to transform the role of trusted third parties such as financial services providers and public authorities. In addition to improving visibility and efficiency of already digital processes, the technology can become the next generation collaboration platform in areas where digital service infrastructures are missing. Often quoted examples include land registries and payment infrastructures in developing countries. However, similar greenfield opportunities exist also in Europe in the public sector and healthcare sectors where the technology could be used to advance the free movement of services across national borders. A few examples are pan-European electronic health registry, electronic identification platform, digital service vouchers for social benefits as well as ownership registries for assets such as non-listed company shares and property.

By its nature the blockchain benefits ecosystem collaboration and Tieto believes that its various use cases are best explored in close collaboration with customers and partners. We are actively seeking new possibilities in various forums where potential ecosystem use cases are being evaluated. One of the recent forums is the ReCon program which is partly funded by TEKES and kicks off in October. The purpose of the program is to assist Finnish companies create success stories with blockchain technology. One of the very practical steps in the program is to establish Blockchain Lab Finland. The lab acts as a experimentation and networking hub for blockchain actors in Finland as well as abroad by organising hackathons and other events. Other partners in the program include Fondia, Kaufmann Agency, Nordkapp, and the Finnish Ministry of Finance. The program is led by researchers from Aalto University and University of Tampere.

Blockchain technology is currently nearing the peak of the hype cycle and it is likely that we not will see mainstream adoption until around 2020. Clearly this is still early days, but the technology is maturing fast. According to Kurtzweil’s law (aka “the law of accelerating returns”) the rate of technological progress is exponentially increasing and - based on what we have evidenced during the past two years - this seems particularly true in the context of blockchain.

Get in touch with us if you would like to hear more about our views on this rapidly evolving technology, our lab setup and other activities in this area. Let’s create the future together!

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You can also read my colleague Pasi Iljin's blog about the topic Blockchain - A dawn of new digital world.

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