Gartner Research concurs, pointing to an impending blockchain breakthrough within the next five to ten years. This up-and-coming trend is reason enough for an entire day to be devoted to the topic at CEBIT 2018, in the form of the CEBIT Blockchain Summit on Thursday, 14 June, on the Grand Central Stage in Hall 27.
The summit will be opened by Dr. Wolfgang Prinz of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology, who will be addressing what all the blockchain excitement is about. For over two years, Prinz has been dealing with the technological nuts and bolts of blockchain, while developing and evaluating blockchain-based applications.
So, what does "blockchain" actually mean? In simple terms, it can be likened to a decentralized digital ledger that is distributed in millions of copies across the computers of all participants. The computers (or 'nodes') form a peer-to-peer network in which all transactions are verified, validated and stored as new blocks. To manipulate the data in the blockchain, hackers would need to hack each of the millions of computers in the network. Blockchain technology is therefore very robust and secure. IT experts like Germany's Friedemann Brenneis believe that decentralized blockchain networks have the potential to replace many sharing economy service providers. Brenneis, who publishes a blog on bitcoin and blockchain technology at www.coinspondent.de , discussed the hype surrounding blockchains at the CEBIT Business Conference in Düsseldorf in mid-October this year. He noted that many technology ideas that seem highly promising to begin with end upcoming to nothing. For example, according to Brenneis, blockchain will never make it in the music industry because it poses a direct threat to the business model of the incumbent rights marketing agencies. The cryptocurrency Ethereum, for instance, would render their classic function as middlemen between performing artists and consumers redundant.
Blockchain technology also has the potential to replace lawyers by enabling smart contracts. With smart contracts, an algorithm determines what conditions (input) lead to what decisions (output). They function a bit like vending machines: the buyer makes a selection, tosses in the required amount of money and receives the selected product. In this analogy, smart contracts are software programs in which the contractual terms and conditions are stored. The contracts/programs are automatically executed and checked for correctness. They have the potential to revolutionize the business world.
Many other areas of the economy are also exploring the possibilities of blockchain technology. For example, CEBIT exhibitor IBM has launched a project with the world's leading container shipping line, Maersk. Their solution, which is based on the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Fabric framework, will manage and track the papers and documents of millions of shipping containers worldwide by digitizing the supply chain process from end to end in order to reduce complexity and enhance transparency and the highly secure sharing of information among trading partners. When adopted at scale, the solution has the potential to save the industry billions of dollars.
CEBIT "Pioneer" tickets at the reduced price of € 50 are available at http://www.cebit.de/#tickets until 31 October. From 1 November till 27 May, tickets will cost €100. From 28 May up until and including the final day of the show, they will cost €200.
Welcome to the all-new CEBIT! Its four constituent parts will provide full, in-depth coverage of every aspect of digital technology and its implications for enterprises, economies and society in general. d!conomy will empower the business community and the public sector to meet the challenges of and fully leverage the rich opportunities offered by digitization. At d!tec, the spotlight is on startups and their disruptive business models, as well as on research institutes preparing to give us a glimpse of tomorrow’s game-changing technologies. The d!talk stage program will feature a highly inspirational mix of visionaries, unconventional thinkers, creative wizards and experts from around the globe. The centrally located d!campus will be the pulsating heart of the event – the place where everyone gets together for relaxed networking, streetfood and live music. The first day – Monday, 11 June – is reserved for conference attendees and journalists, with the exhibition opening on 12 June.