Busi­nesses are ex­ploit­ing a tech­nol­ogy cre­ated for bit­coin “It’s in­sane. The de­mand is off the charts”

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Focus On/The Cloud -

Start­ing next Septem­ber, some lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies in Fin­land, Swe­den, Es­to­nia, and Latvia will be­gin out­fit­ting shipping con­tain­ers with a soda- can- size de­vice that will beam out the cargo’s lo­ca­tion, how much it’s vi­brat­ing as it trav­els, and its am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture. The data will flow into a repos­i­tory in the cloud so the en­tire sup­ply chain can be in­formed if a ship­ment’s been de­layed. That will pre­vent re­dun­dant e-mails and phone calls. “There are mas­sive prob­lems com­mu­ni­cat­ing be­tween com­pa­nies,” says Mika Lammi, who’s over­see­ing the project from his perch at Kou­vola In­no­va­tion, a busi­ness devel­op­ment agency in south­ern Fin­land. “In­stead of hav­ing sep­a­rate data­bases, why not have a sin­gle blockchain where every­one can pool in­for­ma­tion?”

Blockchain is the tech­nol­ogy cre­ated to sup­port bit­coin, but it may soon sur­pass the crypto- cur­rency in im­por­tance. In the first quar­ter of 2016, ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in star­tups com­mer­cial­iz­ing blockchain eclipsed that in pure-play bit­coin com­pa­nies for the first time, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try re­searcher Coin­desk, which has tal­lied $1.1 bil­lion in deals to date.

The sim­plest way to un­der­stand blockchain is to see it as th the evo­lu­tion of the ledger, a record-keep­ing tool that’s been cen­tral to com­merce since an­cient times. Ledgers track the move­ment of as­sets, whether they’re parcels of land or shares in a com­pany, but they have a big lim­i­ta­tion: Ac­cess to the trove of data is re­stricted, os­ten­si­bly for se­cu­rity rea­sons, but of­ten be­cause that’s how its cus­to­di­ans make money.

In the age of the cloud, it’s pos­si­ble for a net­work of banks or com­pa­nies in a sup­ply chain to main­tain what’s called a dis­trib­uted ledger that all au­tho­rized par­tic­i­pants can tap into with­out need­ing to go through

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