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Blockchain seeks to boost data transparency within analytics.

The eyes of the digital world are on blockchain as businesses try to grasp its capabilities. Analytical transparency stands to benefit from this technology.

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Business Information: Enterprise business analytics boosts BI's brainpower

Blockchain's protocol-based technology is straightforward: A transaction, such as a credit card purchase tied to a customer loyalty program, forms a single block. The owner of that transaction has the key to move activity forward, and once someone else takes over the transaction, the next node forms and the new person owns the key. You can only add to the blockchain, not take away from it, making attempts to defraud the chain detectable. Proponents believe blockchain builds data transparency.

The buzz

Proponents believe blockchain builds data transparency.

Supporters say the technology is protected from abuse because there's a copy of a given transaction for every user participating in blockchain. Previously established algorithms certify that an entry is valid; the blockchain rejects suspicious entries that the algorithms can't verify, so the entire network of participating computers will dismiss any change that might corrupt the chain and threaten data transparency. Blockchain also shows potential for expanding analytics. For example, if blockchain provided various retailers with a full history of customer purchase patterns, those companies would enjoy a cornucopia of data that stretches across organizational boundaries, allowing analytics to better pinpoint buying trends and consumer preferences.

The reality

Despite the analytics possibilities blockchain presents, the business world isn't at that point yet. Also, claims of blockchain being completely tamper-proof ring hollow. If a company, government or criminal could somehow gain control of the majority of nodes in a blockchain, the agreed-upon rules to certify transactions could be altered, according to Deloitte Consulting. Further cybersecurity may be needed. The technology also faces a perception issue because Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency built on blockchain, has garnered stigma after facing ransomware attacks.

Next Steps

Debate is under way over blockchain use cases

Blockchain-based currency offers big potential wins for security

Ask the expert: Should CFOs care about blockchain technology?

This was last published in August 2016

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How can blockchain's technology increase transparency and trust in data?