Archive for the ‘Emerging Tech’ Category

Blockchain Will Change the Shape of Legal Industry – Here’s How and Why

Bitcoin valuation touched $20,000 per coin in December 2017! A few years back, self-proclaimed text experts were quick to dismiss crypto-currencies as a concept at best. We can bet anybody would be ready to eat their words only to get a Bitcoin or two in their digital wallets, today.

 

 

At this point in time, blockchain technology is being looked upon as something revolutionary, and something that brings groundbreaking improvements in the ways and means of several industries. The technology is also called ‘distributed ledger’; that’s because the core idea of information management in blockchain is to store verifiable blocks spread across thousands of terminals in the network. This also means that each transaction or contract can be verified and follow up actions can be tied to this verification.

This theoretical 100% control and credibility of transactions and exchanges are what makes blockchain technology an exciting proposition for the legal market. Here’s all you need to know to catch up on the impact of blockchain in the legal industry.

 

Smart Contracts: An Existential Risk to Contract Lawyers?

 

Traditionally, corporate contract management has been a market with strong roles for lawyers. Apart from drafting these contracts, lawyers play important roles in ensuring that both parties actually sign contracts physically, and then also take care of the physical storage of these documents.

The power of blockchain is already changing the way contracts are being managed. These ‘smart contracts’ could be digitally created, and because of the distributed information on the network, could always be verified, and hence held legally binding. The crazy bit – these contracts can be executed without the requirement of a lawyer, directly between the two parties involved.

Already, startups in the legal-blockchain interface market are providing platforms for individuals to enter into smart contracts, without the need of a traditional lawyer. Of course, enterprising law firms have an opportunity to activate an entirely digital-dependent revenue chain, offering smart contract services.

 

 

The Impact on the Volatile Intellectual Properties Market

 

As dismal as it sounds, artists have a difficult time getting their intellectual property rights honored, even in spite of there being clear legal guidelines for the same. Because of the nature of the product, the complexity of distribution, and lack of transparency in the way content streaming companies operate, the intellectual property market becomes highly complex.

However, blockchain can bring order to this otherwise chaotic marketplace, and that’s by tying the artistic content to a blockchain powered platform. Startups such as NKOR, for instance, offer a service where artists can register their intellectual property. Also, there is a lot of excitement around concepts such as coding royalties-distribution into the blockchain, to ensure immediate disbursement of the artists’ dues. Legal firms can expand into this space and become the intellectual property protectors for artists throughout their careers.

 

 

Blockchain As An Operational Enabler

 

Apart from opening new revenue channels for law firms, blockchain technology has superb operational benefits to bless the industry with. Before that, let’s understand the 4 attributes of blockchain methodology that make it substantially secure for data or value exchange.

 

  • Information is decentralized.
  • Information is very difficult to alter because that requires making alterations in several data locations.
  • For new data to enter the blockchain, multiple sources are needed.
  • The steps involved in information and value exchange are very little and the time taken is very less, which leaves very little scope for manipulation.

 

Today, law firms face severe compliance challenges. The nature of modern businesses means that these firms need to securely exchange information among teams, clients, and contractors while maintaining strict control and clarity over responsibilities and jurisdiction as data flows across various parties. This makes blockchain a promising platform for law firms to manage how they share data, without risking leakage and ambiguity over responsibilities and ownership.

 

Land Ownership and Deed Management

 

It’s dismal how real estate market is exposed to severe litigation risks because state and central governments continue to struggle with outdated means and methods of information management. Blockchain, however, can solve the problem, by providing a reliable method for all stakeholders to verify the ownership of land by claimants. Also, important information such as the location and area of the land, and the dates on which important exchanges took place, can all be stored in the public blockchain.

 

Blockchain Law

 

More than a decade back, the digital media industry became huge, which led to maturation of the digital media usage related legal market. Today, we are at a point where there are tremendous opportunities for enterprising law firms to become experts in blockchain law, understand the implications of the technology on different markets, and identify stakeholders that will need representation. In the years to come, as the body of law governing blockchain matures, the demand for blockchain lawyers will surge.

 

Chain of Custody

 

Chain of custody refers to a carefully maintained paper trail for all evidence assets, which is maintained until the time the evidence is produced in court. If the chain of custody is not properly maintained, the defense attorney can easily file a motion to make the prosecution’s evidence inadmissible. Physical evidence’s chain of custody is a difficult enough problem for law firms; throw in digital evidence, and the challenges become even more complex. Here, blockchain can offer the dual solution of not only ensuring the maintenance of a reliable chain of custody (particularly for digital evidence) but also help in secure storage of data. This means that evidence management will cease to be a headache for law firms in the times to come.

 

Concluding Remarks

 

From the discussion till now, it’s clear that blockchain will alter the legal market for the better, eliminating several operational bottlenecks as we know them today and opening new revenue generation channels for law firms. Also, because of the inherent information security capabilities of the blockchain, it’s expected that the technology will help law firms secure their information, and offer related services to a wide range of industries.

 

Author: Rahul Sharma

Top CRM Trends That IT Managers Need to Track in 2018

Customer Relationships Management (CRM) software have been around for quite some time now. Some businesses use them as basic sales management solutions while others look to make the most of their features for wholesome customer interactions management. Like every technology, CRM tools also underwent changes throughout 2017, and 2018 will be no different. A bit of planning, prior research, and a basic understanding of the latest trends from the CRM universe will help businesses a lot. We cover all this and more in this guide. Read on.

A Quick Look Back At CRM Progress

Back in the 1980s, CRM software hardly did anything apart from helping businesses manage contacts. In the 1990s, CRM software became more dynamic and started tracking customer interactions. By the beginning of 2000, cloud-based CRM solutions expanded the market size, as these applications became more accessible for all kinds of businesses.

Since then, CRM has remained on track in terms of adding more functionality to the core software, delivering business value in the process. Today, the business of all scales and sizes, across markets, rely on CRM software for customers interaction management, customer lifetime value enhancement, and customer support, among many other related functions. This makes it crucial for IT managers and leaders to be aware of the latest enhancements being made to CRM software. This guide will help, for sure.

Personalized Automation Via Artificial Intelligence Algorithms

Artificial Intelligence algorithms are affecting transformations across business functions. In 2018, the effects will be seen on the CRM front as well. AI algorithms will be able to help customer support personnel in several ways.

AI-powered CRM software will be able to analyze end user level interactions, learn from the patterns, improve workflows by incremental automation, and hence free up a lot of man-hours for more value adding work. AI-based CRM systems will be able to tap into the TBs of enterprise data to find out insightful patterns pertaining to customer-business interactions. Also, this CRM software will be able to predict using patterns and make crucial decisions related to existing customers and new leads, reducing guesswork and cold calling for end users.

This personalized automation is truly the next big leap that CRM software is ready to take.

The Coming of Age for Social CRM

A very prominent trend evident in the growth of CRM in the past few years is the integration of CRM with social media. With social media, customer-business interactions take place at hours the customer decides, in informal language, and are often initiated by the customer instead of the company.

Your customer’s relationships management efforts need to be focused on the channels where your customers exist. Already, enterprises have included social media channels into their CRM mix. In 2018, the leading CRM software vendors are expected to release extended suites of social media-powered CRM solutions. These suites will comprise advanced social media monitoring and listening functionalities. The net result – enterprises will be able to detect customer sentiments on social media, participate in interactions without explicitly being called out to, and take control of customer interactions on all social media channels. This also extends to mobile devices, enabling end users to resolve customer queries on social channels on the move.

Sales Journey Automation

Apart from the individual level, personalized workflow automation we talked about earlier, 2018 will also witness an underlying improvement in customer sales journey automation. Advanced CRM software will be able to tap into the massive enterprise data to design multi-tiered and highly automated customer journeys. This will enable businesses to effectively manage entire customer journeys, from lead stage to loyalty stage, with minimal sales personnel intervention. Lead scoring and behavioral marketing will further improve the effectiveness of these automatic customer journey mappings.

3rd Party Integrations

CRM software cut across quite a few business functions, namely – sales, marketing, and customer support. This also means that CRM solutions must be able to deliver more than a mere peripheral feature set related to these aspects.

In 2018, CRM software vendors will raise their game in terms of allowing 3rd party integrations of their core software with other tools. This is also expected to be accompanied by a call for industry standard interfaces that connect multiple services and solutions. Though the modern breed of CRM software offers a fair amount of integration already, there is still a long way to go before single-vendor CRM suites can deliver intelligent synchronization across platforms. Mobile and web-powered solutions need to work in tandem with the enterprise’s core CRM, and this year will see the onset of these futuristic CRM tools.

Smart Messaging

Gartner predicts that businesses that are not able to implement a stellar customer interactions strategy stand to lose 25% of potential new revenue. Enterprises are looking to formulate multi-dimensional and multi-channel CRM strategies. Proactive and intelligent messaging is a crucial element of these advanced CRM strategies. Personalization is another critical aspect of this long-term CRM strategy. Thankfully, the next-gen breed of CRM software will come loaded with tools and functionalities that make it easy and hassle-free for businesses to achieve success with their CRM strategies.

These tools will be able to ‘estimate’ when to send a message to audiences, and will also be able to personalize and contextualize the content of the message accordingly. Chatbots are already exhibiting their prowess in making use of oceans of customer demographics and interactions history data to manage automated messaging. With similar functionalities, CRM software will be able to send the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, and using the right communication channel.

Concluding Remarks

It’s clear how big data, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will bring about significant improvements in CRM software in 2018. IT leads and managers need to stay in sync with the latest from the world of CRM software so that they can commission the right tool, and beat their competitors.

 

 

Author: Rahul Sharma

Top IoT Trends That Will Keep on Buzzing in 2018

IoT devices are around us in every direction we’d care to look. These devices are helping doctors monitor patients from far away continents, assisting factory floor managers in identifying assembly line parts that will need maintenance in the coming few days, and monitoring vehicle performance and driving improvements in prototypes. IoT technologies are re-shaping customer journeys in unimaginable personalized ways, helping businesses explore whole new vistas of business growth and service delivery. 2017 was an exciting year that witnessed the adoption of IoT technologies by all kinds of businesses. As we move into 2018, here’s a guide to help you identify the IoT trends that will make the buzz throughout the year.

Rapid IoT Growth Will Continue

Though this might sound ridiculously obvious, the trend deserves a mention nevertheless. That’s because some very specific industries and business processes stand to be transformed for the better by IoT devices in the very near future. Among these, retail is at the top, with smart devices already helping companies explore new service delivery and revenue generation channels. Healthcare and industrial supply chain are the other two industries where IoT is on the brink of bringing in revolutionary changes. Wearable devices for round the clock patient monitoring in health-care, and use of stock quality monitoring IoT technology in industrial supply chains are already a reality. Throughout 2018, we will witness more and more processes and applications bring driven by IoT devices and technologies in industries apart from retail.

Fragmentation as an opportunity as well as challenge

Much like what we observed in cloud computing software as a service (SaaS) space throughout 2011-2015, IoT service vendors will be driven by the need to differentiate. The result – there will be a wave of fragmentation sweeping across the industry. Though the availability of niche IoT players will benefit SMBs, enterprises will have to face the challenge of working with multiple vendors under multiple contracts for the execution of their IoT strategy. Compatibility issues will hit companies in abundance as they try to make things work with multiple IoT systems, all of which might not be made with a view to integrating with other systems. Industry giants, thankfully, realize this problem and are already calling out for standardization in IoT technology protocols. Qualcomm, for instance, is vocal about the potential security challenges that fragmented IoT infrastructures could imply. In 2018, it will be interesting to note whether any serious work gets done as far as standardization of IoT technologies is concerned.

Fragmentation Will Increase Concerns Around IoT Security

A vendor for predictive maintenance algorithms, another for data analytics, yet another from edge computing infrastructure, and still another for smart visual reporting – that’s not a far-fetched reality, and something that enterprises are likely to encounter and experience in 2018. Of course, this makes the IoT ecosystem very complex. The long-term integration challenges that such a complex system brings to the table are hard to appreciate and understand well after the implementation phase of IoT projects. Also, so many moving parts of your IoT vehicle mean that the threat surface area increases. In such a situation, the art of ensuring thorough system security and data privacy becomes a challenge for enterprises. This calls for IT leads to work in close conjugation with the CISO office, to anticipate and address compatibility, privacy, and security challenges for IoT systems.

Low Power Wide Area Network As a Growth Driver

Low power – Wide area network (LP-WAN) technology is advancing at rapid pace. This technology is all about enabling wide area network connectivity across a large area, without using much power. The impact of opening up newer markets and applications for IoT could be huge. Traditionally, the business processes and applications that have not been considered for IoT powered transformations because of lack of affordable internet connectivity, will be open and relevant for IoT projects once LP-WAN projects start getting commissioned at a commercial scale.

The Availability of SaaS-based IoT offerings

In spite of the rapid leaps made by IoT technology vendors in the past couple of years, implementations remain mostly on-premise. This makes the cost of entry from SMBs and small enterprises prohibitively high. However, there has been clear progress in SaaS-based IoT services, and the market is all set to expand throughout 2018.

For enterprises, this means that they can commission small IoT projects without spending a lot. Whether you wish to get started with localized telemetry data analysis or want a machine learning expert to help you draw out tremendous insight from your data lakes, you will have a SaaS-based IoT service to consider in 2018.

Device firmware, server-side scripts, different connectivity and communication technologies, machine learning – this is just the starting point. Instead of managing all this complexity on your premise, you’d want to consider affordable and scalable SaaS alternatives.

The Increasing Importance of Edge Computing

IoT means massive data. And the success of IoT projects invariably depends on the speed, accuracy, and costs of data processing. Among these, the speed of processing is crucial for certain important IoT applications such as unmanned areal vehicles. For all these, it’s important to perform data analytics close to the source of data, so that propagation delay to and from the central analytics engine and database.

To achieve this, edge computing is a practical option for enterprises. IoT leaders like Dell, HPE, and Cisco, for instance, are already investing in edge computing infrastructure. Of course, all the buzz around edge computing as a successor to cloud computing is mere hype, because both infrastructures need to co-exist for enterprises to be able to realize IoT projects with low latency tolerance.

Concluding Remarks

A Business Insider report suggests that business spending on IoT will be $6 trillion by 2021. Expect 2018 to be a milestone year in this roller coaster of a journey. Track the trends mentioned in this guide to make quick and smart moves for your enterprise.

 

 

Author : Rahul Sharma

Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) for Enterprise – Jump on the Bandwagon?


The democratization of high-speed Internet coupled with the development of distributed information exchanges gave rise to the development of blockchain technology. Blockchain is the underlying technology that powers the crypto-currency Bitcoin; however, its uses transcend that. Simply put, a blockchain is public, shared distributed ledger that stores the complete transaction history of different types of records. The validity, uniqueness, and integrity of the stored data is preserved, without the need for a trusted third party to verify it. As such, blockchain has peaked the interest of several enterprises, especially those in the finance and banking industries. Large tech players such as Microsoft and IBM have begun exploring the opportunities blockchain presents in the form of Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) solutions in order to incorporate blockchain technologies into their cloud offerings.

Its no secret that the industry of blockchain based companies is still relatively young. Its future is currently being shaped by experimentation and R&D partnerships between large corporations and start-ups. The main driver behind the rise of blockchain apps, especially in the enterprise, is directly linked to time and cost efficiencies, that are still far from optimal in most industries.

“ Blockchain holds the promise to fundamentally transform how business is done, making business-to-business interactions more secure, transparent, and efficient”

– Amit Zavery, senior VP of Oracle Cloud Platform

What is Blockchain as a Service ?

A Deloitte survey conducted towards the end of 2016 concluded that Blockchain technology would become a crucial business focus for most industries in 2017. The survey, which involved 308 senior executives who were knowledgeable about blockchain, found that most of them placed blockchain among their organizations’ highest priority. 36 percent were convinced blockchain has the potential to significantly enhance system operations, by either increasing speed or reducing costs. 37 percent recognized blockchain’s formidable security features as the main benefit. The remaining 24 percent were of the opinion that it has the potential to facilitate new revenue streams and business models. While there is a consensus amongst enterprise tech decision makers that blockchain has immense potential to reshape entire industries, the adoption plan is not as clear or direct.

Building enterprise solutions powered by blockchain is not a simple undertaking. The setup and subsequent operation of a blockchain environment involves major development and infrastructure challenges. Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) is an intriguing trend in the blockchain ecosystem that aims to ease adoption for enterprises. The idea behind it is that customers can leverage blockchain cloud solutions to create a network of their own applications and smart contracts while the cloud provider handles all the heavy lifting needed to keep the infrastructure operational.

BaaS provides blockchain capabilities as a first class Platform as a Service (PaaS) services. From a functional perspective, a BaaS model enables developers to create solutions that effortlessly combine the aptness of blockchain with typical infrastructure and platform services like storage, messaging, middle-ware, and other functional building blocks of complex software solutions. Additionally, BaaS facilitates a seamless model to manage and scale a blockchain topology without the deployment of any proprietary infrastructure.

BaaS Market Outlook

Blockchain has gained a lot of momentum over the past few years, with good reason. As of Feb 2017, it was the second most-searched term on Gartners site, after a 400 percent increase in the 12 months prior. This shows an exponentially increasing interest in this rapidly developing market. The entire blockchain market is predicted to grow at an annual growth rate of 61.5 percent by 2021, with immutability and transparency as the driving factors behind the growth. Another thing aiding in the expansion of blockchain’s reach has been the proliferation of blockchain as a service (BaaS) solutions from major providers.

The major BaaS players include:

Microsoft

Microsoft first launched the Azure BaaS in November 2015. In 2016 it furthered its efforts with Project Bletchley blockchain middle-ware/ template, which was aimed at helping partners and customers build private consortium Ethereum networks. Microsoft is trying to aid business figure out the best way to build on top of BaaS with Enterprise Smart Contracts. The blockchain framework and middle-ware were created to help enterprises integrate and build distributed applications. Since Azure is a scalable, flexible and open platform, Microsoft claims to support a growing number of distributed ledger technologies that meet specific technical and business needs for performance, security and operational processes. They also claim the the Cortana intelligent service is capable of providing unique data analysis and management capabilities.

IBM

IBM’s BaaS service is based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. Hyperledger is an open source cross-industry effort to introduce blockchain to the enterprise; by utilizing it, IBM hopes that developers will be able to rapidly build and host secure blockchain networks through the IBM cloud. In order to solidify security, IBM blockchain is underpinned by IBM LinuxONE, a security based Linux server. The IBM blockchain platform claims to be the only fully integrated enterprise blockchain platform built to accelerate the governance, development and operation of multi-institution business networks. IBM plans to offer a framework for cooperate blockchain networks, that automatically scales as members are added to it. The company states that its blockchain platform will be capable of supporting large user ecosystems and transaction rates.

Oracle

Shortly after joining the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project, Oracle added blockchain as a service to its cloud offering. The plan to launch the service was initially announced when it joined Hyperledger in August 2017. Its goal at the time was to provide an advanced and differentiated enterprise-grade distributed cloud ledger platform for consumers looking to create new blockchain based apps and/or grow their current IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and on-premise applications.

In Closing

Conspicuously missing from the list of major BaaS providers is AWS. In 2016 AWS announced a collaboration with the New York City based Digital Currency Group (DCG), to provide a blockchain (as a service) experimentation environment for enterprises. So that the blockchain providers on the DCG portfolio can work with their clients, who include insurance companies and financial institutions, in a secure environment. However, this strategy is yet to end up with the development on a new BaaS platform within AWS. Scott Mullins, AWS head of worldwide financial services business development, says that their company is closely working with blockchain providers and financial institutions to prompt innovation while facilitating frictionless experimentation. Google has also been relatively quiet it matters concerning blockchain. However considering the direction other PaaS incumbents are going; we are likely to see BaaS capabilities incorporated into Google cloud in the future.

 

Auhtor: Gabriel Lando

Blockchain Beyond Crypto-currencies

Blockchain can disrupt cloud computing

Blockchain goes beyond crypto-currencies

On the 31st of October 2008, the still mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto (probably a pseudonym for an individual or group) published a white paper introducing the concept of a peer to peer digital cash system referred to as Bitcoin. Bitcoin marked a radical shift in the finance industry. It offers enhanced security and transparency by authenticating peers that share the virtual cash, generating a hash value, and encryption. The global financial industry, predicts that the market for security-based blockchain is will grow to roughly $ 20 billion by 2020.

More Than Just Crypto-currencies

Blockchain is widely known for powering crypto-currencies; it is the data structure that enables Bitcoin (BTC) and other upcoming digital currencies like Ether (ETH) to burgeon via a combination of decentralized encryption, immutability, anonymity, and global scale. However, its uses go way beyond that.

In a nutshell, blockchain refers to a continuously updated record of who holds what.

A blockchain is a distributed data repository or ledger that is decentralized and available for everyone to see and verify. In order to understand it in the context of a trust economy; you can equate it to public ledgers that were used to in towns to record important things like the transfer of property deeds or election results. Blockchain simply utilizes advanced cryptography and distributed programming to effectuate similar results. What you have in the end is a system with trust inherently built into it – a transparent, secure, immutable repository of truth; that has been built to be highly resistant to manipulation, outages, and unnecessary complexity. This consistent record of truth is facilitated by the shared and cryptographic nature of the ledger.

Blockchain’s social perception mainly revolves around crypto-currencies. Most people get encumbered by its perceived technological complexity, dismissing it as something for the intellectual tech-savy; but its basic concept is universal and simple. Its immense potential is nothing short of revolutionary. From financial ledgers and contracts to monitoring and securing all manner of data in the next generation of distributed applications.

Blockchain in the Enterprise

Blockchain is creating waves in the enterprise software market, with companies like Microsoft and IBM leveraging it in developer environments, cloud platforms, Internet of things (IoT) technology and more. Ethereum’s blockchain tech has largely been the gateway, nonetheless, tech giants are firmly in the blockchain business. The collective finance and banking industry is also adopting blockchain transactions in the form of smart contracts.

Blockchain was listed as one of the top trends in the Gartner hype cycle for 2017. The hype cycle takes a close look at technologies that have the potential to significantly increase a company’s competitive edge. According to Gartner, this technology will lead to the reformation of entire industries in the long term. Companies that are at the forefront of disruption, view blockchain as the driving force behind it. This was the key takeaway from a study of 3,000 executives, done by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, which examined the enterprise potential of blockchain. The survey concluded that 33% of the executives were already considering or had already adopted it. Most of the surveyed executives were counting on it to provide a competitive advantage – while creating a platform approach to innovation.

Potential In the Cloud

Cloud computing has been widely adopted in virtually every facet of IT; one can’t help but wonder how the decentralized and security features of blockchain technology can be used to further enhance the clouds appeal. Whenever CIOs begin discussing moving critical applications to the cloud, terms like security, compliance, accountability, reliability, auditability, and acceptance of liability among others, are thrown around. The main point of contention lies in the demand that there is a secure supply chain and that each step in that supply chain is verifiable in real-time, and when things go south it is possible to find out what went wrong and someone can be held accountable. Introducing blockchain into cloud computing creates a convenient service that offers enhanced security.

A Decentralized Cloud

A key characteristic of blockchain is that it was designed to be synchronized and distributed across networks. A blockchain based decentralized cloud facilitates on-demand, low-cost, and secure access to some of the most competitive computing infrastructures; while protecting your files, both on the nodes and in transmission, by utilizing encryption and cryptography. A major reservation for organizations when migrating to the cloud is trusting third parties to secure sensitive, private data.

For most cloud experts, the biggest draw to blockchain is the elimination of intermediaries. Mainly due to the fact that a well-designed and publicly accessible blockchain can easily replace most of the functions performed by intermediaries to ensure a secure environment, free of fraud. On a decentralized ‘blockcloud’ , where data is stored on multiple individual nodes intelligently distributed across the globe, it is virtually impossible to cause meaningful disruptions.

Blockchains like Ethereum provide a different approach to running distributed applications. Using Ethereum, developers can write smart contracts – code that is executed on the blockchain virtual machine, whenever a transaction is fired. The Ethereum blockchain inadvertently provides a distributed run-time environment with a distributed consensus over the execution.

In Closing

Blockchain’s power doesn’t lie in its heavy encryption; its distributive nature makes it hard to manipulate. It is essentially a sequential storage scheme that can verify itself, making it the ideal solution for immutably recording transactions and much more. While everyone remains fixated on the AI buzz, the blockchain is a dark horse that is running under the radar.

Author: Gabriel Lando

Image Courtesy of Freepik