Wednesday, 25 October 2017 11:14

Blockchain the disruptive force reshaping digital in 2018: survey

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Blockchain the disruptive force reshaping digital in 2018: survey Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blockchain tops the list of major trends in ICT for 2018, with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality all having the potential to deliver disruptive outcomes and reshape digital business, according to the latest global survey from ICT solutions company Dimension Data.

Dimension Data says the rise of blockchain has immense potential to disrupt and transform the world of money, business, and society using a variety of applications.

And Dimension Data’s Sydney-based group chief technology officer Ettienne Reinecke says, among other things, that blockchain “has the potential to totally re-engineer cybersecurity, but the industry has yet to come to terms with it”.

According to Dimension Data, companies that have not started the digital investment cycle are at high risk of being disrupted.  

“Last year, when we looked at the top digital business trends for 2017, we predicted that centralised transaction models would come under attack. We were spot on. In the financial services sector, we’ve seen the US and European capital markets moving onto blockchain platforms, and similar activity in markets such as Japan. Considering how conservative and compliance-focused this sector is, that’s quite remarkable,” Reinecke says.

“It’s ironic that the cyber criminals who perpetrated the recent WannaCry ransomware attack could hold a federal government to ransom and demand to be paid in bitcoin.

“Bitcoin might be a crypto-currency, but it’s based on blockchain, and if cyber criminals are confident that bitcoin provides a safe mechanism for the payment of ransoms, it indicates just how secure the distributed ledger approach is.”

Reinecke predicts that blockchain will also deliver on the promise of Internet of Things in the year ahead.  

“In the world of IoT you’re generating millions of small transactions that are being collected from a distributed set of sensors. It’s not feasible to operate these systems using a centralised transactional model: it’s too slow, expensive, and exclusive,” he says.

“To extract the true value from IoT technology you have to be able to operate in real time. Once a sensor alert is received from a control system you must react to it, meter it, and bill for it instantly – all of which negates the viability of a centralised transactional authority. The cost of the transaction has to be near-zero or free, and the cost elements of a centralised model simply don’t support the potential business model in IoT.”

Reinecke also notes that In 2018, some interesting applications of blockchain and IoT in the area of cybersecurity will emerge.

He says that significant attacks have recently been launched from low-cost IoT endpoints, and “there’s very little incentive for manufacturers of these devices to incur the cost of a security stack, which leaves them extremely vulnerable”, and “Blockchain can play a fundamental role in securing these environments”.

Another trend which Dimension Data highlights is what it says is the boom in new wireless technologies that will enable IoT – “a step closer to the dream of pervasive connectivity”.

“Some of these advancements will include 5G and Gbps Wi-Fi, new controls, virtual beacon technology, and low power, long distance radio frequency,” Reinecke says.

“There’s also a 'digital fight-back' coming on the part of certain incumbent players. Established businesses that have proactively transformed into digital businesses, modernised their architectures, and embedded high levels of automation into their operations have a window of opportunity to claw back market share in the year ahead. That’s because there’s been an increase in the number of cloud-born start-ups themselves starting to be disrupted in certain industries.

“I predict that a number of digitally transformed incumbents will successfully start reclaiming their markets because they have more credibility, longer histories, an established customer base, and assets that can stand the test of time.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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