Blockchain is simply a type of database, though a powerful one.
Blockchain is a shared database among a group of individuals or organizations. It doesn’t exist in a central repository, but rather in a network of computers around the world. Advocates of blockchain say that the technology is immutable, decentralized, secure, irreversible, distributed, and anonymous. To a large extent, all those claims are true; the challenge is that none of them is 100 percent true. By removing a central authority, a blockchain relies on the crowd to verify transactions. Individuals confirm transactions by doing heavy computational work, and they are rewarded with tokens like Bitcoins. A transaction is entered into the system and is typically stored with many other transactions within a block. Subsequent transactions form new blocks, and each new block is linked to the previous block via a unique digital signature. If someone tampers with a transaction recorded in a block, it alters the digital signature and unlinks that block. That’s what makes it so difficult to alter data on blockchain.
Blockchain may be poised for mass adoption, but it’s not quite there yet.
Billions of dollars are pouring into blockchain. LinkedIn says blockchain will be the most indemand hard skill in the workplace in 2020. Blockchain has been called the Internet 2.0 and the harbinger of a paperless society. Use cases are legion. Yet, the technology hasn’t quite reached mainstream use. Questions persist about its value compared to a simple database, its vulnerabilities, its enormous power expenditure, and so on. However, some experts predict that in several years blockchain will be as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi. And blockchain weariness has set in. Gartner has been tracking blockchain’s progress through its hype cycle. As of late 2019, analysts there said that blockchain was entering the “Trough of Disillusionment” after summiting the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.” The trough is where interest has waned as experiments and implementations fail to deliver,” according to Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technologies, 2019, and the technology will languish there until 2021.
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