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How Salesforce is marking its stance with Blockchain Technology

30 Jun

Introduction

We all have been so dependent on technology that none of us can think of surviving sans it. We also expect technology to evolve by each day for better experience and ROI. Blockchain is one such technology that has given us a brand new reason to be happy and feel secure in this data-driven era. By definition, Blockchain is a growing list of records linked using cryptography.

“72% of customers (both consumers and business buyers) believe that blockchain technology will transform their expectations of companies within the next five years.”

SALESFORCE | STATE OF THE CONNECTED CUSTOMER, 2018

Let’s understand how Blockchain has become the most trusted technology – a reason that caught Salesforce’s attention

Before talking about Salesforce Blockchain, let’s understand it in detail. You could say Blockchain technology is a safe architecture that protects and traces data in a way that can be distributed and verified by a defined set of people in the network. This technology promises to fundamentally change how we share information, buy and sell things, and check the authenticity of the information we bank on every single day — from what we buy to when we transact.

Let us understand more with an example. Every business involves multiple people from the same and different organizations, particularly in today’s connected world. Think about the journey of a simple shirt manufacturer:

During the entire course of making and selling a shirt, a lot of transactions happen among growers, weavers, shippers, customers. Because there is a need to track all these transactions, we need ledgers. A general ledger tracks precise information, such as the date of purchase, amounts transferred between participants (the growers, weavers, and shippers), etc.

But there’s one problem with this approach, traditional ledgers are inefficient, subject to error, and tampering. Think about the shirt manufacturing process. Growers and weavers have their ledgers. However, when people do business together, they have to be prepared for their business growth. When they don’t, it may lead to disagreements, from buyers requesting refunds and involving banks for action and more. Things could become more difficult. Having out-of-sync ledgers between participants lead to poor business decisions. To improve such a process, the distributed ledger technology came into the picture. This is a kind of database that is shared, replicated, and synchronized among parties, to make things easy. No intermediary is required. Every record in the distributed ledger has an encrypted timestamp and is an auditable, permanent record for all transactions. Blockchain records transactions between peer-to-peer networks. It’s a distributed ledger with superpowers.

In Blockchain we have Nodes, Blocks, and the network validates all blocks which are linked from the beginning to the most recent ones. All the Blockchain integral parts mentioned makes it temper proof where altering any existing transaction will break the chain.

Even after being secure, Blockchain is a complicated technology, and many companies are finding it challenging to unlock its full value. Here enlisting exciting features of Blockchain:

Records stored in a digital ledger: Used to record and encrypt any transaction records, such as the transfer of funds or the change in ownership of a property.

Maintains a transaction list: Replicate the list of transactions across several computers rather than being stored on a central server.

Limited transaction records accessibility: Ledger’s accessible only to a network of partners, who all are involved in it.

No intermediaries required: Multiple control point and no central authority, and no third-party mediators are involved.

Stringent Verification process: Cryptography and digital signatures are ways to verify participants’ identity and authenticate transactions.

Salesforce and Blockchain

Salesforce recently announced its first blockchain product built on the Hyperledger Sawtooth platform – a low-code platform that allows companies to create blockchain networks, workflows, and apps that enable the sharing of verified, distributed data sets across partner and third-party systems. According to Salesforce, the solution will allow users to build and share blockchain objects in a similar course as any CRM data object — with just a few clicks. There are three components of this product

Blockchain Builder: For developers to build blockchain applications

Blockchain Connect: To integrate blockchain actions with apps on the Salesforce platform

Blockchain Engage: To invite third parties to the blockchain application, regardless of whether they are part of the Salesforce ecosystem or not.

How it could change the way we do business

According to Salesforce, it is focusing on how the decentralized character of the blockchain can open up innovative business models that might not have been possible on the Salesforce platform in the past. They are looking forward to the idea of extending the CRM competencies as it will facilitate numerous parties to work together in a trusted way and create business models around ecosystems, rather just direct customer relationships.

Salesforce and Blockchain can address the inherent challenges of trust and efficiency in our digital economy. Salesforce being a CRM champion, it can do more than just providing CRM tool and its services by renovating the way businesses operate. Its seamless solutions like information management, powerful analytics, task automation, and enhanced communication can even do better with little tweaks and additions. Salesforce & Blockchain blend provides supremacy into the hands of the buyer by empowering them along with sales and service reps to provide an enhanced quality of service.  Increase in transparency to buyers through solutions such as Partner Communities can do wonders. This is only one aspect that is seen here; there could be many more.

The solution also integrates blockchain data into sales forecasts and predictions, integrate other existing blockchains with Salesforce, and adds third parties to their Blockchain with a few clicks. Building a Blockchain is complicated, but with Salesforce’s Blockchain it looks like this will be a cake-walk, and being on the Salesforce platform, will automatically give access to all CRM data with no off-platform integrations required. The combination of Salesforce’s CRM workflows with blockchain data will allow companies to create new business processes and models that span their entire organization to help accelerate the speed of business. Few benefits Salesforce see in Blockchain

Robust security: Here, data is secured using cutting-edge approaches like cryptographic keys; blockchain networks are more resistant to data tampering and cyber-attacks.

Faster and Low-Cost transactions: Blockchain databases do not need third parties such as banks and, briefs to authenticate transactions — the technology fills that role. By excluding the need for intermediaries, businesses can restructure their processes and lessen the costs.

Better transparency and traceability: The complete database of transactions and their history is accessible by network member in a blockchain set-up; they get help from real-time transaction-level assurance. This feature makes the system more audit friendly.

With Salesforce Blockchain, admins can build and maintain networks, apps, and smart contracts or create and share blockchain objects, and layer blockchain data on top of existing sales, services, and marketing flow like search queries and process automation. Also, organizations can pull in prebuilt apps, and integrate, interact with, and add existing third-party blockchains with Salesforce.

According to Salesforce, currently, only three clients are testing the product- A health information technologies and clinical research company IQVIA, the rating agency S&P Global, and Arizona State University. IQVIA is testing the service for regulatory information management and drug label processing while Arizona State is testing for storing student transcripts, which would allow users to share those records by offering a public key. And S&P Global Ratings is leveraging it to lessen the time it takes to evaluate and approve new business bank accounts.

Real-world applications

As it will soon be out in the world for all, let’s see its application to the real world.  

Smart Agreements –Smart agreements can allow multiple parties to agree to a set of terms & conditions, and Blockchain will make it mandatory to abide by rules. Like the role of a middle man can be eliminated from a start-up scenario. Investors and companies can agree on specific terms.

Payments – Entire payment system can be transformed. It can make monetary transactions faster and easier without the need for a bank.

Supply Chain Proof – In supply chain scenario, theft and fraud are common and they can be avoided by Blockchain technology’s wise implementation. Materials in transit can be used to verify all items and along with their source so that the receiving party can be sure about what they get in hand.

Conclusion

As of now, very less is known about the Salesforce Blockchain, but blockchain technology application in recent years for asset tracking, credentialing, and goods and services verification has made it a promising technology for which everyone is looking forward. Industries like Supply Chain, Healthcare, and Insurance can be transformed by Salesforce Blockchain to pave a path for the future, and other sectors still need to explore the possibilities.

Salesforce Blockchain is currently available to selected designer partners and is expected to become publicly accessible by 2020.

About Solunus

Solunus, a North-American based Salesforce Gold Partner, prepares businesses for their next-generation customers. Established in 2014, we simplify Salesforce for you to build more meaningful customer relationships. We partner for a win-win arrangement with clear ROI that the client realizes by the end of the engagement. Our 350+ years of cumulative industry exposure and Salesforce experience underpin our position as the right Salesforce partner. We are a team of Salesforce Certified Professionals, CRM Architects, and certified Agile Scrum Masters with a passion for making a difference.

About the Author

Shalini is a marketing professional with nine years of experience in business development, branding, market research, content management, social media marketing. She is passionate about art & creativity and is an avid learner.