Blockchain hype could lead leaders to believe that just adopting blockchain will solve all of their problems. In reality, however, people should spend more time understanding why blockchain is a good solution. Discerning leaders who can see through the hype do not fall into the FOMO trap. To avoid the disappointment of failed projects and wasted resources in the future, they first build a business case for the use of blockchain. Using blockchain for the wrong reasons is one of the main reasons for blockchain projects to fail. This article explains why CBAN, the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) industry network, decided to use blockchain to implement their solution.
The service lifecycle in the ICT value chain
The ICT value chain starts with an initial inquiry about a particular service. The response to the inquiry will either be whether the service can be performed or not. Then, if the service is available, a quote can be given, and the order can be placed. Then comes service delivery, performance management, and fault handling. Eventually, billing takes place. The change management process comes into play if you want to make any changes to the recently ordered and activated service. A piece of the overall life cycle is developed here and there without an overall perspective. The CBAN approach takes a comprehensive top-down approach to the entire lifecycle. By doing so, we ensure that all our ducks are in a row. Like, an inquiry and a purchase order both contain the same type of information. You should use the same language, the same approach, and the same methodology. But this industry process has little to do with blockchain. All of this, in theory, can be performed regardless of blockchain. Blockchain, in this case, is an assisting factor.
The ICT industry structure
The ICT industry has upwards of 3000 players. Co-operation is what we can define as their style of working. Their relationship is based on mutual suspicion. They rely on each other to deliver services. Only a few, if any, of the players can provide all services themselves. Even giants like AT&T and China Unicom need partners to complement their services. The service could be very small, or it could be very large, but partners are always needed. Despite their dependence on partners, they will never allow a partner to control our network. When delivering a service through a partner, we must not be able to control the part that they deliver. We can only request that something be delivered. We can then confirm that what was requested has indeed been delivered.
How does blockchain help?
Immutability is the first feature that makes blockchain useful. Immutability of records gives the ability to verify that what was ordered was delivered.
Next, blockchains work nonhierarchically. There are no top-level orchestrators. No top-level entities exist. The same level of governance applies to all nodes. Similarly, it is flat like the industry structure. Irrespective of whether you're a big company like AT&T or a small company like the one in your neighborhood. Without the small companies, the big boys would not be able to provide their services. You cannot complete your service without AT&T since it is a flat industry. Regarding locations within your neighborhood network, AT&T cannot provide its services without you. They will have to go through your network to reach a subscriber in your area if you are the only provider in that area. They will need to place an order with you, and you will need to respond by saying "yes, I can" or "sorry, I cannot deliver the service." If you can provide the service, then you'll charge whatever it costs - e.g., $1 per minute. They'll agree, you'll both sign an order, you'll connect them, and you'll send them a bill for however long the call lasted.
Additionally, blockchain can facilitate payments within a consortium. Some form of cryptocurrency can be used for payment. One of the popular cryptocurrencies or stablecoins can be used. Obviously, bank payments can be handled via SWIFT API calls. The fees and the time involved in SWIFT transactions are relatively insignificant when we are dealing with large amounts. However, when you are talking about micropayments, it is extremely, extremely costly to use a SWIFT transaction. Stablecoins offer an interesting solution in this regard. CBAN has been working on a solution based on stable coins. Two developers are working on the wallet as part of a technology-agnostic approach. Paxos (PAX) was preferred by one, and USD Coin (USDC) was preferred by the other.
In essence, blockchain gives companies the ability to make sure that what was requested was also delivered and ensure that they can orchestrate the processes in the supply chain without hierarchy while keeping the payments low.
Can these problems not be solved by other technologies besides blockchain?
Yes, they can be. It isn't that blockchain is a panacea for all ills. It serves as an assistive factor. PCCW is using it because it simplifies some things. It simplifies the issue of data storage. It simplifies the relations in a more effective and trustworthy manner. Before the wheel and jet engine, people traveled the world, right? Sure, it was more complicated. It took a long time and was expensive. You could, however, if you wanted. A steamboat was not even available to Columbus while he sailed the Atlantic Ocean. He used the wind. Blockchain has value - there are things it can do more effectively, but it doesn't mean these things cannot be done in other ways.
Subscribe to the newsletter
Read the book Unblocking Blockchain: Enabling Your Digital Future.
Image credit: Woman vector created by freepik - www.freepik.com