Efficient data management has long been a cornerstone for any organisation and a way to generate valuable insights that can improve the corporate decision-making process. In the past few years, the focus on big data has resulted in an exponential increase in data volumes, sources and types. While having access to such quantities of data can be a considerable asset and drive innovation, it also poses several challenges, such as security, validation, analysis and interpretation.
The integrity and reliability of the data are also of paramount importance, however, remote working and other social distancing measures have significantly hindered the visibility and transparency across the chain of custody. This makes it more difficult for some industries to ensure compliance between intermediaries, deepening the existing distrust among stakeholders. Coupled with the increase of cyber-attacks since countries have been in lockdown and the concerns around data protection that have arisen as a result of this, organisations have been left clouded with doubts: how can I know that the information I have is reliable and has not been tampered with? How can I share my information safely?
Blockchain as a “single point on truth”
One of blockchain’s core capabilities is that it stores and provides reliable and trusted data, enabling an organisation’s stakeholders to gain access to the same information in a safe and secure environment.
The technology also facilitates the immutable record of all relevant information, protecting it through encryptions and providing verifiability and data lineage. In addition, moderators can define rules through smart contracts that regulate activities in the different applications within the blockchain. For example, this feature can enable users to establish permissions to modify the available data. With these features, information is rendered tamper-proof and can be followed from beginning to end, with any unauthorised alteration being immediately identified. Based on its research, Gartner predicts that “By 2023, organizations using blockchain smart contracts will increase overall data quality by 50%…creating positive data and analytics ROI”.
With the increase in regulations regarding data security and privacy practices, businesses might be compelled to reassess how they collect and use consumers’ data. The transparency and traceability provided by blockchain technology are great assets that can enable organisations to efficiently demonstrate compliance and ensure best practice in data management.
Blockchain for automation and interoperability
While big data enables us to extract of high volumes of information, the process of analysing this data and translating it into valuable insights that can be shared among members of the organisation is highly time-consuming. When real-time sharing of data is involved, the methods used can be rendered inefficient. According to IDC, “by 2025 nearly 30 percent of all generated data will be real time compared with 15 percent in 2017.”
Deploying blockchain technology could allow companies to create a suitable environment for distributed analytical content, incorporating it directly into their business systems, automating interoperability of relevant information, reducing time to action, and ultimately streamlining the whole decision-making process.
Combined with other technologies such as AI and/or machine learning, blockchain could help organisations leverage augmented analytics by enabling them to securely handle large volumes of validated, trusted and immutable data. This would not only enhance data quality but also boost data analysis capabilities, leading to more meaningful and useful insight generation.