Blockchain has the potential to go beyond the sphere of financial services and transform multiple industries, including Communications, Media & Technology. The technology has already made its way into the music business with Imogen Heap, a British singer, who has used a blockchain-based model, Mycelia to release her music.
The lack of transparency and timely payment to the right parties are some of the challenges encountered, with relation to digital rights management in the music industry. Blockchain can help tackle these issues through smart contracts. These contracts are agreements that are automatically executed by nodes, once certain pre-coded conditions are fulfilled. For instance, it is possible to design a contract according to which, the resultant value upon the purchase of a song from an online music store, is immediately distributed between three predefined parties—the online music store, the recording label and the artist, thereby eliminating the need for any human intervention.
All the transactions in blockchain are transparent, making it a reliable model for the end consumer. The technology can be instrumental in transforming the supply chain. For example, customers can log into Retail Blockchain, an integrated seller and service platform, to access information like real time inventory as well as attributes and detailed provenance data for all sellers, to enable them to buy their desired products from their preferred store. On the other hand, sellers of a commodity can connect to the Retail Blockchain and seamlessly share operational data across a network of supply chain nodes.
The advantages of blockchain can be further extended to include the Internet of Things (IoT). Various companies are already leveraging blockchain to fuel the IoT network. For example, an Australian telecom major is taking advantage of the technology to secure smart home IoT ecosystems. Since most smart home devices are controlled through mobile apps, the telecom major has added user biometric information to blockchain, to prevent compromised mobile devices from taking over the network and to capture user identity. Additionally, some technology providers are also developing autonomous decentralized peer-to-peer telemetry (ADEPT) systems that enable a kind of self-managing IoT. For example, ADEPT systems could enable autonomous vehicles to reorder consumable stock when supplies run low, with payments being made automatically upon delivery.
Denis Gassmann, managing director–Communications, Media & Technology, DACH, has been closely following the developments around blockchain. In an interview, he goes on to elucidate why this technology will revolutionize more than just the world of finance.
Q: Should one look at blockchain as a theme that goes beyond the world of finance?
Denis Gassmann: Absolutely! This database technology allows information to be stored, validated and transferred without the need of a central and intermediary institution. Blockchain can serve as a swift and cost-effective alternative to existing processes, particularly in areas where central entities such as notaries, trustees and brokers are actively involved. Furthermore, the technology is transparent and cannot be manipulated.
Q: How can this technology be applied in the sphere of Communications, Media & Technology?
Denis Gassmann: Copyright management through blockchain, offers a promising opportunity in the media industry to make books or music available to third parties for use, without having to depend on publishers or record labels. I’m also eagerly following the development of smart contracts, which are entered into and executed with the help of blockchain.
Q: When will blockchain applications become a part of our daily lives?
Denis Gassmann: It is difficult to say, when and the extent to which blockchain will be leveraged and how it will change existing structures within certain sectors in the future. It is a relatively new technology, which is still continuing to become a part of our professional lives and is gradually making its way into everyday life. Accenture has actively been involved in the blockchain space since the past few years, and we are helping companies explore the technology in newer and more agile ways.
Distributed ledger and blockchain technology fundamentally changes how data is managed. Every transaction is documented in the blockchain. New entries line up in the chain, continue to remain visible and cannot be altered afterwards. Therefore, a manipulation in the entries is both difficult and expensive, as the information is simultaneously placed across thousands of computers. Below are some of the potential benefits as well as challenges of blockchain for the Communications, Media & Technology industries:
Privacy: Designing a blockchain that protects all the confidential data of a user
Security: Protection against data modification and cyber attacks
Scalability and latency: Development of solutions that can handle the required volume
Implementation: Establishment of standard tools or administration interfaces
Secure database that enables establishment of trust between parties in a transaction
Cost-effective transactions through removal of intermediaries
Quicker settlement time
Documentation of every transaction
Managing Director - Communications, Media & Technology, DACH
Denis Gassmann leads Accenture’s business for the Communications, Media and Technology industries in Austria, Switzerland and Germany since 2013. He is an expert in digitalization and helps his clients to establish themselves in the digital business and accelerates their digital transformation.
Denis holds a diploma in business computer science from the University in Reutlingen and joined Accenture’s technology consulting practice in 1998. He was responsible for several projects and programs at large international clients throughout Europe mainly in Post-Merger Integration and IT Transformation. He became a Partner at Accenture in 2009 and held several management positions since then. He is based in Munich.