Distributed Ledger Systems: How They Are Being Used in the Business World

published Nov 30, 2019
2 min read


Distributed ledger systems, such as blockchain technology, are still in their infancy when it comes to their real-world applications. However, industry experts like Phillip Nunn have been advocates of their potential for transformation for years, especially in the business world.

But how exactly are distributed ledger system already being used to shape the future of business from payroll to sensitive data sharing? Read on to find out.

Proving Supply Chain Provenance

As anyone in the business world knows, whether you are the end consumer or buying from a supplier, products are rarely manufactured in their entirety in one location – sometimes even involving multiple suppliers and multiple locations.

From the simplest product like a regular ballpoint pen to complicated machines like aeroplanes, components often come from a variety of suppliers and sources. The issue with this? Should the end product fail, it is currently seen as the fault of the company who put the item on the market, rather than whichever supplier is responsible for the failed component.

The use of a distributed ledger system can easily address this by creating permanent, tamper-proof digital records of where each component came from, right down to the batch number. This offers a full-proof way of recording the provenance of each part that goes into making a product, streamlining the process of identifying it, should there be a malfunction.

Verifying Legal Documents

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is already being used in the business world and the legal profession for creating and maintaining documents known as smart contracts. These self-executing contracts remove the need for third-party involvement.

The use of blockchain technology to create contracts can also be utilised for the creation of other important business documents such as legal papers, non-disclosure agreements and even the maintenance of leases – all without any of the parties involved being able to tamper with the data.

With the release of the Ethereum Project, an open-source blockchain-based platform, businesses can now easily create smart contracts. The benefits of these automated programmes which carry out the terms of the contract are that they do so without any downtime, possibility of fraud, or risk of interference or censorship.

Cloud Storage

There is no business around the world that wouldn’t benefit from the applications of distributed ledger systems to cloud storage. While cloud storage itself has been around for years now, blockchain technology has only recently been utilised to create decentralised cloud storage, offering a far more secure option for businesses that need to store large amounts of highly-sensitive data.

Sharing Sensitive Data

When it comes to the applications of distributed ledger systems in the business world, the majority of conversations have kept the focus firmly on financial uses.

While this is undoubtedly the most widely used application of the technology, we are only now starting to explore the role of blockchain technology in sharing sensitive data that could previously not easily be distributed to multiple users, across multiple locations.

Major industries like finance, healthcare, and engineering all handle vast quantities of data, much of which is often sensitive or could be classed as personally identifiable information. When companies in these sectors have to share that information either internally or externally, they are presented with the issue of how to best safeguard it.

Platforms that use a combination of graph databases and distributed ledger systems are the answer to this dilemma, allowing data owners to share it as and when they need to with the knowledge that the information cannot be deleted or tampered with.

Streamlining Payroll

Of course, we couldn’t talk about the real-world benefits of distributed ledger systems without touching on finance at some point. After all, cryptocurrency is what propelled this technology into the mainstream.

For large corporations that regularly have to pay international staff, doing so using cryptocurrency could help them streamline their payroll, and avoid the hassle and fees associated with making international payments. Using Bitcoin, or an altcoin, is also being floated as a time-saving and efficient option of paying contractors or remote employees, and could in time prove a revolutionary change in how companies pay their employees.