The Prevalence of Blockchain

Matt Barbaro, Director of Applications & BI at BI, Town Fair Tire

The advent of technologies such as AI, IoT, blockchain, mobility, and robotics are creating innovations at breakneck speeds and are helping transform human history. Many have dubbed and denounced blockchain as “a solution looking for a problem.” Used solely for financial transactions within the crypto-currency market, the potential of this innovative technology has grown further and is finding new applications across areas such as payments, customer relationship management, data and analytics. Undoubtedly, business models have transformed owing to these advancements, but at the same time, a lack of appropriate regulation is creating a risky environment for users.

Matt Barbaro, Director of Applications and BI at Town Fair Tire shares his valuable insights on Blockchain technology and the need for thinking outside the box while addressing new market challenges.

Blockchain technology in the retail sector

As a general definition, Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that permanently and verifiably records transactions between the involved parties. The data is recorded in real-time. What makes this technology distinctive, is its ability to prevent hacking and the ease with which it can be accessed by anyone with the right key. In effect, every agreement, process, task, payment, or customer interactions in a blockchain enabled service or solution can be digitally recorded, saved, and shared. Moreover, the transactions become faster as deeds, IP, and contracts go online, minimizing the paperwork.

Consumers these days are showing a keen interest in the origins of the products they purchase. However, knowing the origin is at odds with the development of increasingly complex supply chains. This is where blockchain technology comes to aid, with its unalterable and commonly accessible records that can bridge these gaps. Moreover, it allows customers to track and know the goods through the supply chain, from the very beginning of its production cycle, starting from the raw materials to the final product on the shelf. For instance, if a shop sells an article, the blockchain data gives you exactly where and when that product was made, as well as the “who” and “by whom.” Additionally, it includes data about individual ingredients as well.

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“It is evident that Blockchain is now universally accepted and serves as the backbone for several new technologies, including AI, robotics, machine learning, and IoT”

This development in the retail chain adds a new level of trust to the customer-brand relationships. Besides ensuring authenticity, unaltered digital recording of each and every stage of production and supply helps in reducing the risk of counterfeiting as well. Counterfeiting is a pervasive problem in the pharmaceuticals and electronics sectors. Many service vendors are offering blockchain technology to the help companies track their supply chain, thereby making the process secure and paperless.

Security is Priority

We have built a home grown shop management platform and CRM that are powered by blockchain technology. In the beginning it was used just for scheduling but later we expanded the features and functionalities that allow our customers to shop seamlessly. Be it a wholesale or a retail purchase, our platform is able to provide the estimate, invoice and process the payment and beyond. The main thing we are looking while we implement blockchain right now is security. The reason we prioritize security is because we use customer data. If our customer’s phone number is stored anywhere in our data base, we have all their data aggregated.

Our home grown CRM which makes use of blockchian technology basically gather all the customer data. We make use of customer master, customer invoice and activity master. These tools that we use in our CRM system allow us to pull the data very quickly. So if I wanted to fetch my data and search myself by accessing the CRM, our platform performs a lot of testing using my phone number. Because, if someone selects my record, they can see that it aggregates multiple stores. This information would include data about added spend per year, the stores that I visited in the past, and the number of invoices per each year etc. Because we deal with all these information about a customer we made sure that we are executing this entire process properly.

Blockchain is secure as it uses powerful cryptography to give individuals ownership of an address. The encryption and decryption associated with it makes it innately secure. Through a combination of public and private keys, made up of combinations of random numbers and letters, blockchain brings additional layers of security. As addresses are not directly associated with users’ identity, it solves the issue of stolen identity whilst preventing it from potential attacks. Blockchain makes this happen through the private keys they use. As the private key is considerably longer, it is even more secure. Essentially, leveraging private keys among others, blockchain offers a greater level of security to the individual user and removes the need for weak and easily compromised as well as hacked passwords and online identities.

When it comes to data breaches, it is particularly rare for individuals to have their identity compromised through backdoor cyber activities. But instead, data leaks occurred through some of the biggest hacks in the history, on the world's largest companies. Most of the personal information obtained by blackhats are through large scale breaches. This happens because countless international organizations harvest as much details about their customers so as to increase the effectiveness of their sales teams, and to increase the engagement with them. Despite the numerous efforts they take to secure this data, it is nowhere near to the security it needs to be. And the result is failing security measures put millions of customers at serious risk.

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