We don’t have to be industry analysts to know that better data equals better decisions.
Today, we’ll look at 5 ways blockchain technology can improve enterprise data quality and data management to make a lasting impact on a company’s operational success.
1: Unified Master Data Management
Working towards a distributed, verified system of record for better master data management.
Good master data management is part technology and part strategy – it involves building a comprehensive data management framework wherein critical data is integrated and leveraged as a single point of reference across the digital enterprise.
But in many cases, the enterprise is riddled with data silos, resulting in duplication of records and inaccurate or incomplete sets of information. These visibility issues are multiplied with the complexity of new business activity; for example, a merger or acquisition where sales, marketing, HR, financial and customer data is inconsistent in format, duplicated, and needs serious integration processes.
Blockchain technology can provide a single source of data truth for the data-driven enterprise – as one trusted and distributed system of record. We can crush data silos by logging master data on a distributed blockchain ledger and allowing our suite of applications to connect to and leverage this validated information.
In cases of multiple stakeholders (i.e. separate applications, separate business units, or even separate corporate entities), a distributed blockchain allows credentials/based access management for secure collaboration on master data. If we can trust and verify the data at its operational layer, we can build frictionless data pipelines to its relevant consumers.
2. Instant Data Compliance
The auditors are back – and it’s time to scramble to reproduce financial reports and email threads.
For many highly-regulated industries (Aerospace, Financial Services including Insurance and Banking, Healthcare), this scenario is a quarterly reality. And in all of these cases, the intended outcome is to reproduce data alongside a timestamp to prove compliance.
Blockchain technology provides turnkey compliance to every record in a system: by cryptographically hashing every transaction to the prior transaction, a blockchain database provides a native audit trail of verified transactions. This allows you to mathematically prove the legitimacy of data, its original source, its timestamp, and its complete historical path of changes through time.
In fact, the Fluree system natively provides “Time Travel Query,” a powerful query expression that can reproduce — and prove– any state of the database down to the millisecond. It’s like a highly-tamper proof git, but for all of your data.
3. Data Provenance and Replayability
Where did that data come from?
Sometimes databases are more like black boxes than sophisticated systems of record: update-and-replace with no notion of temporal state or original provenance. The average enterprise deploys 200+ SaaS apps – each with its own ‘black box.’ Furthermore, that ‘black box’ data is often replicated and ingested into new systems or data lakes for analysis and further operational application; visibility is eroded at every stage of reuse. In many cases, our mission-critical applications are leveraging data that, quite frankly, cannot be traced back to its original source.
Blockchain brings end-to-end traceability to every piece of data in your system — a guaranteed chain-of-data-custody. This means you instantly have visibility to data’s origination (SaaS or user) and you can track its complete path of changes across its lifecycle.
With Fluree, the traceability of changes are tied to digital signatures — including even third-party applications that sit between clients and data. How’s that for visibility?
4. Data Democratization Across Borders
Deliver trusted data across borders
In today’s enterprise, information needs to traverse boundaries. Healthcare patient records need to be piped between carriers and hospitals. Government institutions need to securely share records between various agencies. Insurance carriers need to collaborate around claims data and contracts. Data is more useful and effective in the hands of many.
Blockchain technology can provide a trusted foundation for secure, real-time data collaboration across boundaries (application, organization, or even industry borders). With a unique structure of data ownership where various stakeholders have direct visibility into digital records, and even a vote on their validity, blockchain allows for every stakeholder across the data value chain to contribute to trusted sets of shared information. With real-time data visibility, stakeholders can more efficiently optimize business processes and make dynamic decisions.
5. Explainable AI; Trusted Machine Learning
If machines are going to be making more of our business decisions, shouldn’t they have access to trusted, tamper-proof data?
This particular use case might not be highly-relevant to the enterprises that have not dipped the proverbial toe into production machine learning. But for those that have: the idea of explainable AI, or understanding the path of decision-making, is important. In extreme cases, like autonomous vehicles, explainable AI is essential. To bring back a metaphor from above, machine learning architects need a better way to explain results apart from opening the proverbial ‘black box.’
As more and more machine learning implementations make their way into the operational world, preserving data integrity and provable history will be a top priority; with more production deployments there will be more adversarial attacks.
Blockchain’s cryptography provides data with tamper-resistance for complete traceability into (a) how it got there and (2) its chain of updates through time. If we can arm the sources powering machine learning applications with this level of data integrity, replayability, and traceability, we can better understand causation in our models and protect them against “data poisoning” or other versions of data manipulation.
Fluree’s temporal dimension to data certainly provides this guarantee of instant and comprehensive replayability. Read more about time travel here.
At the end of the day, no matter which data management technology solutions you are deploying, better data equals better business decisions. Leaning into blockchain technology can increase the quality of your data and augment its value across the enterprise.