Read views of Infosys experts on how blockchain technology offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform the transactions of the future, how its adoption will create newer value propositions and what is required for its integration into larger IT systems.

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May 23, 2018

Blockchain Next: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence can be defined as the field of computer science dedicated to solving cognitive problems commonly associated with human intelligence, such as learning and pattern recognition. AI has been a fascinating concept of science fiction for decades but technological advancement has enabled organizations to leverage AI capabilities such as machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, etc. for a variety of applications.

Technology giants such as Google, Facebook & IBM are developing AI technology to help people in all aspects of their lives from translations to healthcare. Facebook is developing AI Tech to enable people to communicate better while IBM is developing scalable AI models and tools such as natural language processing, speech and image recognition and reasoning.

The technology is set to change our lives and how we relate to technology but it still has some hurdles to overcome before we can realize its full potential.

Data is a key ingredient for AI training and this need has amplified the need for qualitative data. The perennial problem of getting access to quality data for training AI based models has significantly hampered the advancement of AI across multiple industries. The unavailability of quality data is either due to the fact that data is locked up in siloed databases or data owners have no incentive to trade data.

Blockchain's ability to guarantee the accuracy of data makes it useful for a number of AI applications, both for feeding data into AI systems and for recording the results of AI logic. Blockchain opens up the possibility for data owners to share de-personalized data using smart contracts to define the rules of the transaction. The model also opens up valuable data locked up in siloed databases for the advancement of AI/ML algorithms making this a unique win-win proposition for the data producer as well as the data consumer.

Blockchain also enables organization to comply with regulations by creating an audit trail of AI logic for research and prevention of catastrophes due to the autonomous and evolving nature of AI.

With the convergence of the two technologies, AI is able to address many security concerns associated with layers interfacing with blockchain networks. Advanced deep learning based cyber security algorithms enable prevention of data fraud as well as help organization optimize their energy consumption for data mining on the blockchain.

AI and blockchain enables the processing of encrypted data ensuring the secure transfer and processing of data further enabling the creation of a network for monetization of anonymized data.

The convergence of AI and blockchain stands to revolutionize organizations and our day to day lives as the world around us slowly transforms into our favorite science fiction movies filled with autonomous robots, cars and homes enabled by the access to vast amounts of data and security provided by these two technologies.


May 10, 2018

Blockchain Next: Decentralized Manufacturing

Decentralization is a theme that covers not just blockchain but also additive manufacturing, micro factories and several other technologies. While blockchain has brought decentralization to the forefront but additive manufacturing and micro factories have been pioneering decentralization for decades. The earliest 3D printing technologies first became visible in the late 1980's, at which time they were called Rapid Prototyping (RP) technologies and the concept of micro factory was proposed in 1990 by the Mechanical Engineer Laboratory, Japan.

Decentralized manufacturing technologies like 3D printing It has already found application in rapid prototyping, fashion, prosthetics and various other manufacturing application across industries with projections of a market size of USD 23.79 billion by 2025. Organizations have leveraged the technology to meet consumer demands of personalization and on-demand availability.

The potential applications of 3D printing range from aerospace and food to human tissues manufacturing, but these benefits come with certain hurdles. These hurdles range from tampering and alteration of print files, loss of IP, unsolicited copying or downloading of sensitive designs like weapons, to tampering with the printer control mechanism. This creates an immediate need for a data protection and transparency framework to enable decentralized manufacturing.

Blockchain brings the various partners involved in the ecosystems such as designers, printer providers, material providers (plastic, metal, etc.) and the end customer on one network. Blockchain enables them to securely share designs and track its usage while helping synchronize the printer control mechanism and printer sensors data to create and audit trail to ensure the quality of the printed product.

Blockchain enables law enforcement authorities to track the usage of 3D printers and track manufacturers of illegal objects. Smart contract can also be sued to pre-empt such attempts by preventing the manufacture of these objects.

Blockchain addresses the need created by technologies such as additive manufacturing for a distributed network to securely share IP with the end customer and track the use of the design to prevent loss of royalty and creates an online marketplace for designers monetize their data.


May 7, 2018

Blockchain in Health Insurance

"Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation."
~ Dean Kamen

Insurance, one of the most ancient of trades as well as one of the largest industries worldwide at present, has been, by far, left untouched by major technological disruptions. But the times are changing. Insuretech, a big buzzword in the industry, refers to the use of technology innovations geared towards improved efficiency and reduced cost. Blockchain, with it's potential to simplify the insurance model while increasing trust and transparency at the same time, has a powerful role to play in the future of insurance.

The long overdue innovations in Insurance seem to be finally happening going by the current trends. In April 2018, major health care companies like Humana, MultiPlan, Quest Diagnostics, Optum and United Healthcare announced their plans of implementing a pilot program using blockchain technology to keep their healthcare provider directories up to date. Provider data forms an important part of healthcare system. If the provider data is inaccurate or not up to date it can cause consumer dissatisfaction, increased healthcare costs and lawsuits. In India, some large insurers have kick started a blockchain project to control costs required to run medical tests and also to ensure privacy of the individuals. After showing a massive potential to change the landscape of financial industry in bygone years, 2018 could be the year where blockchain make inroads in the Insurance industry.

Blockchain helps address some of the typical pain points faced by the Insurance industry. In Healthcare insurance, for example, there are issues faced by both insurers and the consumers which can be mitigated using block chain.

Pain Points for Health Insurance Providers:

  1. Building trust: Insurance customers, usually left confused by the policies, have become increasingly wary of the insurance providers with growing distrust. This problem of trust is a major issue plaguing the insurance providers.
  2. Silos: The entire insurance industry operates between various disparate stakeholders like regulators, insurance companies, tax authorities, policy holders, credit agencies, doctors, and hospitals. All these service providers operate in their own silos and sharing information among them becomes cumbersome due to factors like bureaucracy or limits to information sharing.
  3. Patient data management: Most of the times insurance providers do not have access to the entire information about the patient which leads to increased processing costs or assigning faulty policies.
  4. Improper documentation: Again due to dispersed documentation and filings among the various stakeholders in the insurance network, documents are sometimes wrongly filled or not filed, and sometimes lost.

Pain Points for Health Insurance Consumers:

  1. Access to medical history of the patient as per need and ownership of medical data: This happens often when the consumer changes the plan/insurance provider/doctor. This scenario can even happen when the customer has been on the same plan for many years and the data is distributed in far flung corners of the insurance network. The patient data is owned by the various providers rather than by the patient themselves. The end user has little to no control on their own medical data/history. So during an emergency/ even during routine checkups; the patient data will not be readily available to a different doctor/hospital without undergoing a cumbersome process to gain access to the information. In this scenario the doctors providing the services to the patients will not have a complete view of the patient's medical history leading to repetitive tests or incorrect diagnosis or protracted diagnosis.
  2. Processing/denying claims within a specified time period: Insurance companies bungling up on claims beyond their deadlines leads to customer dissatisfaction. This, in turn, is again linked to the major issue of losing customer's trust.
  3. Security: Consumer identity information stored with the hospitals/insurance providers make it vulnerable to leaks and identity theft.

If we look closely at the complications mentioned above it all comes down to four important areas - ownership of data by the consumer, better data access and maintenance, proper documentation and prompt transactions.

Blockchain can resolve all these problems. The foundational features of blockchain like accessibility, data integrity, immutability, automated execution of transactions and being a distributed ledger among all the peers in a blockchain network makes it the perfect candidate for resolving these issues. Deploying blockchain on healthcare network would help with the following points.

  1. Expedite and improve patient diagnosis and medical costs. The patient owns his/her medical information and has the rights to provide it as per needs without relying on any other external agency. As the hospitals and doctors would have access to the patient's data quickly and completely; the need for extra tests and prolonged or wrong diagnosis would drastically reduce. Thereby improving the customer experience.
  2. Smart contracts would automatically trigger transactions which would again make the processing and denying claims easier and faster. This would immensely improve the trust factor in Insurance providers.
  3. Sharing of data among the various providers in the network on a distributed ledger would ensure the data can be accessed easily anytime and also the risk of improper documentation and loss of data/documentation would come down to almost zero. Here this would help reduce the processing costs for the insurance companies.
  4. Self-Sovereign identity where the identity information is with the consumer and not on a centralized database can thwart potential identity thefts.
The acceptance of blockchain among insurance companies across the globe opens a lot of opportunities for validations services for distributed ledger technologies. Any implementation of blockchain would involve rigorous testing of the data integrity and synchronization among the peers, accessibility testing, load testing, testing of smart contracts functionality and testing of transaction execution. To fulfill the potential demand for Blockchain testing in near future, Infosys has come up with a Blockchain testing framework known as, Infosys Blockchain Testing Solutions. With a user friendly UI and simulation of end-to-end blockchain functionality, Infosys Blockchain Testing Solutions will help ensure an error free implementation of blockchain for insurance providers.

Blockchain is emerging as the need of the hour with potential to transform the Insurance industry. In Lars Henneberg's words, "Insurance transactions are currently far too tedious and frictional. Blockchain technology has the potential to facilitate the desired development that is long overdue".


Blockchain Next: Securing IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is basically a network of physical objects such as equipment, vehicles and even people that can collect and exchange data. This is possible with the use of interconnected sensors that collect information at a much higher level of granularity than ever before.

Today, the applications of IoT are creating a world with endless opportunities for connection. In fact, the impact of this cannot even be fully understood by many of us.  As the IoT trend gathers pace, businesses across sectors are embracing IoT for enterprise applications such as connected cars, smart retail, smart farming, smart factories and wearables.

With all these IoT-driven applications and investments growing at a mind-boggling pace, analysts predict that the number of connected devices worldwide would reach 125 billion by 2030. However, IoT suffers from privacy and security vulnerabilities owing to the invisible and pervasive collection and dissemination of information. Furthermore, the centralized communication and data management model used by IoT makes the entire system vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Decentralized technologies such as blockchain can provide the much-needed security for IoT through distributed environments. Blockchain creates a single source of truth by replicating data across the network. It also collects, validates and disseminates information securely using cryptographic algorithms. In doing so, blockchain provides participants on the network with reliable information from IoT for monitoring and analysis. It also provides a secure mesh network that allows IoT devices to interconnect reliably and avoid threats that are prevalent in central server models. Thus, the decentralized approach eliminates single point of failures, thereby creating a more resilient ecosystem.

The potential business benefits to be gained from blockchain and IoT are tremendous. Through decentralized IoT sensors, blockchain can collect large amounts of validated data that are vital for developing ML/AI models. These models will further enhance the value derived from disruptive technologies. Additionally, IoT enables blockchain to create a real-world network that links smart devices such as autonomous agents, AR/VR, 3D printers, etc. All of these capabilities transform the daily lives of people by changing the way they control household appliances, wearables, etc., and increasing the range of applications from this kind of data.

As revolutionary and amazing technologies emerge, blockchain and IoT together can provide the perfect interface for secure machine-to-machine communications that will change our world in unforeseeable ways!


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