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2 posts from February 2020

26 February 2020

How useful is blockchain, and what benefits can it deliver?

by Chris Clements Senior Development Manager, PwC United Kingdom

When you hear ‘blockchain’, you may well think ‘Bitcoin’. But cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are just one application you can build on blockchain’s decentralised ledger technology.

Blockchain is very much a back-end technology. It’s not a ‘sexy’ tech like drones or virtual reality. When you deploy blockchain solutions, most people will probably never notice it – they’ll only see what it lets them do.

But organisations using blockchain applications, across a whole host of sectors, can reap many benefits, including:

  • Greater transparency
  • Proof of transactions without the need for a central authority
  • Permissions-based privacy and security
  • Auditable, tamper-proof record-keeping
  • Immutability

Where is blockchain most promising?

Blockchain applications are already helping companies verify the credentials of job-seekers, in association with awarding bodies such as universities. For example, a university can issue degrees on a blockchain platform, enabling graduates to easily share those verified credentials with potential employers.

Insurance is one of many industries also discovering the benefits of blockchain. Creating new policies and settling claims are complex, time-consuming processes, typically involving many different parties. Anything that can simplify and speed up such processes will benefit both insurers and customers of services from travel insurance to more specialist offerings.

Take marine insurance, which is a highly complex area of the industry, in which different companies insure different parts of a shipping operation, such as hull, cargo, liability and loss of freight revenue. Using a blockchain platform to place a policy lets multiple parties share and act on information all in one single application.

Everyone with permission to use the chain can see approvals and changes in real time. There’s no need to go back and forth with individual parties, and then return to the rest for approval. 

Another sector which showcases the benefits blockchain can bring to a wide range of industries is the international diamond trade. Blockchain in the diamond trade provides a trustworthy, transparent and immutable record of every step in the supply chain - from mine to purchase. 

In the case of diamonds, this lets jewellers show their products are conflict-free. But having confidence in your supply chain, and trust in the provenance of items being bought and sold is important across a wide range of sectors, from manufacturing to grocery and healthcare.

There are many other blockchain uses as well, from online gaming trades to energy sales and pricing.

Is blockchain an option for you?

When considering whether blockchain might work for your organisation, it’s best not to start by thinking about blockchain solutions – or about any other specific technologies.

Instead, look at the problems you need to solve. Think about the processes those problems are related to. Think about the issues these processes involve. The problem space is where the solution will be found, so don’t rush through it.

When you start considering solutions, start with the simplest first. You may find the answer doesn’t lie with technology at all, but with people or processes.

If technology is the answer, is blockchain the right one? If you answer yes to at least four of the questions below, it may well be:

Does your problem involve:

  1. Multiple parties who need the same view of shared data?
  2. Multiple parties who need to act by changing and updating data?
  3. Multiple participants who need to trust and verify one another’s actions?
  4. Intermediaries that add complexity and cost?
  5. Time-sensitive interactions?
  6. Interacting transactions where participants depend on one another’s actions?

If blockchain is the answer to your problem then it won’t be a showy solution that gets your customers or users talking. But if it can solve your problem, isn’t that what really matters?

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by Chris Clements Senior Development Manager, PwC United Kingdom

05 February 2020

Fuel your curiosity: Are you ready for the driverless revolution?

by Ben Evans UK Drones, PwC United Kingdom

At PwC we aim to encourage individuals from a diverse talent pool into the technology space. One way we bring this to life is through our sponsorship of the Science Museum’s ‘Driverless: who’s in control?’ exhibition - running from 12 June 2019, to September 2020.

We help our clients understand the disruptive impact of these technologies and how they can be applied to a range of different business models.

From drones to autonomous vehicles, we’re seeing more interest than ever from our clients who want to understand these technologies and prepare for the potential impacts on their business.

With the significant opportunities drone technology provides to businesses, we wanted to find out how the public viewed drone technology.

At a recent driverless themed event hosted at the Science Museum’s Science Lates, we asked 2,783 visitors how they felt about drones, using our interactive, immersive pop-up stand.

The stand allowed visitors to benchmark themselves against the findings of our Building Trust in Drones survey and start a discussion on whether we should trust these new technologies.

We found that 70% of 26 to 35 year olds said they did trust drones - the most trusting of all the age groups surveyed. It turns out that the 36+ years group are the most sceptical age group, with 40% citing they didn’t trust drones.

If we compare this to our Building Trust in Drones research released in 2019, we found that less than a third of the UK public felt positive towards drone technology. Could public perception be improving?

Impact of drones on business and society

At PwC, we’ve been working with businesses in the asset management space to improve the accuracy and efficiency of measuring asset value across a range of external audit clients. Drone technology has provided numerous benefits including increased speed and accuracy of data collection. It has also significantly reduced the potential for workplace accidents, and is therefore improving the health and safety of employees. Whilst this is just one example, there are many other excellent use cases in the UK where drones are providing benefits to society

So what are some of the barriers to trusting drones that we need to overcome? Read our Building Trust in Drones report to understand how public and business trust can be won. In it we highlight the importance of education, accountability, reward and benefit in the journey towards overcoming the trust issue.

Supporting the Science Museum’s ‘Driverless: who is in control?’ exhibition has helped us go some way in building trust in these emerging technologies. Through our sponsorship we have been able to tackle some of the most difficult questions about the future of autonomous vehicles head on. Attend the free exhibition and see the possibilities of these technologies for yourself.

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by Ben Evans UK Drones, PwC United Kingdom