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For all the breathless discussion of the technology, so far there aren’t very many people in business or elsewhere who understand what it is, how it works, or why it is important. Granted, the advent of Bitcoin has overwhelmed the discussion for the most part, but even digital currency shouldn’t completely distract from the valuable features of something like blockchain.


If you are in business, it is vitally important you understand exactly what this technology does because it is as big a game-changer as the creating of the internet and e-mail. In fact, blockchain technology just might revolutionize both of the older network protocols in a shorter time than we might otherwise think.


What is Blockchain?


Simply put, blockchain is a digital ledger that is both distributed and encrypted. Because of the way the ledger is recorded through a series of encrypted entries each dependent on the others, tampering with it is virtually impossible. Even if it were possible to unravel a blockchain and re-encode it, the other nodes on the network where the authentic data are recorded would “repair” the fabricated version and destroy it.


The practical result of blockchain for business is just as astonishing as the idea of instant worldwide communications. Blockchain creates data that can’t be copied. The ramifications of this concept are still being worked out, but anyone in business should realize the value of a unique piece of data. Here are some of the ways this new technology will change your business and career.


More Reliable Documents


The first and most obvious application of unique data is the signed document. No longer will there be a need for paper copies of signed documents stored in a file cabinet or an office building. Once a document is signed and entered into the ledger, it becomes both permanent and un-alterable, two things which up to now, electronic data has never been.


Lower Costs


Imagine a world where it is no longer necessary to transport, store and consult paper documents in matters of law, finance, corporate governance, intellectual property, medicine and so forth. Saving the simple costs of moving those papers from one place to the next would create a windfall for most companies, not to mention the many governments that rely on paper to perform the most trivial of tasks.


Accurate Records


Consider the average licensing agreement to adapt a novel into a television series. Law firms could easily generate box after box of documents negotiating, financing and establishing the infrastructure to support such a production. With a blockchain ledger, not only can those records become available to anyone who needs them, they can be arranged in chronological and logical orders so any of the principals can track the evolution of the transaction from negotiations through to contracts and royalties.


It took the world many years to come to grips with the idea of e-mail, even though e-mail was and remains one of the most miraculous technologies ever invented. It will take time to understand blockchain. What it produces will definitely be worth the wait.