How would you describe blockchain to someone with no technical background?

Our CEO Arjeh van Oijen has joined to answer the question of today!

Good question. Many of the conversations related to blockchain are to my opinion too much focused on the technology aspects while the focus should be on the value it can bring for the different stakeholders.

Simply said, blockchain or DLT (Digital Ledger Technology) is technology that is very suited to enable the digital and secure exchange of data between parties that operate and collaborate with each other in business networks.

Nothing new here. Nowadays, these parties already do business and collaborate with each other on a large scale and as part of it exchange large amounts of data with each other.  But the way this data is exchanged, takes still mainly place via paper, emails, PDF documents or other means that require involvement of humans. As a result these collaboration processes are characterized by inefficiencies, delays, errors, fraud as well as low transparency. While at the same time the majority of the parties have IT systems in which this data is stored. That means that the data could be digitally exchanged between the systems of the different parties without any human involvement. The main reason why this direct exchange of data between IT systems of different parties is relatively low is that the effort and time to set up and implement infrastructures to facilitate this secure exchange of data requires relatively much effort, investment, implementation time and intensive technology alignment between the different parties. Therefore most of these infrastructures that exist today are provided by commercial (3rd) parties of whom a dependency exists.  

Blockchain/DLT can be considered as a complete and out-of-the-box technology stack that makes it possible to set up and implement these kind of infrastructures with significant less effort/costs, time, risks and vendor dependency than when this would be done on basis of a combination of different traditional technologies. In case of the latter the involved parties need to get alignment and agree on how the different technologies are going to be used in combination with each other, which is often a long-lasting and complex process due to differences in point-of-view, preferences and interests of the involved partiers. In addition the combination of different technologies that are based on different (open source) licenses creates all kind of discussions and issues, which is not the case with a blockchain/DLT technology stack that has one open source license model.

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