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Need to Know: Blockchain in Custom Installs

Here’s How the Shared-Ledger Technology Behind Bitcoin May Disrupt the CI Channel

Editor’s Note: Welcome to NewBay’s inaugural edition of Need to Know, where we explain complex topics and how they apply to each industry we serve, on our websites and in our magazines. Keep coming back for future topics, to include 5G, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and more.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of blockchain or can’t quite find the words that explain it. Blockchain is a dense subject, even for the biggest propeller heads in the technology business. In a nutshell, blockchain is the shared ledger technology created for the crytocurrency Bitcoin.

We’re still in the infancy of blockchain, so it hasn’t really found its way into the consumer electronics market…yet. But, given that most experts say it will play a role in “every industry,” eventually, it’s wise to speculate about how it may affect your business in the future.

Beyond its obvious potential for restoring trust in the way goods and services are paid for within the retail landscape, blockchain may also disrupt the custom integration channel through inventory validation, warranties and service contracts, network security improvements, and more efficient applications of AV over IP, the Internet of Things (IoT), and purely digital AV products.

The promise of IoT is that machine-to-machine communication can be programmed and streamlined, and that connected devices can be automated. IoT devices can also be programmed to send, receive, and record data. Imagine how your most fully loaded smart home project or a sports bar installation with 50 video displays and multiple audio zones, HVAC, occupancy sensors, and smart lighting could be better managed through blockchain. The data harnessed by this system could be a valuable tool to better understand real-time AV usage and design efficiency. An integrator, armed with insights gleaned from this system could make more educated proposals on his next project, provide more effective maintenance recommendations to current clients, and solve problems before the client even knows they have them.

Blockchain also has the potential to reduce the security vulnerability of IoT devices through its decentralized method of protecting data with built-in, adaptable safeguards. If digital information is the heart of the new AV-over-IP system, and blockchain protects the integrity of digital systems, perhaps blockchain can be the missing link to reliable security. If even one smart lightbulb gets targeted in a vulnerable system, perhaps via botnet attack, it could bring the entire system down. Or a device itself can go rogue. Many experts see security as the biggest impediment to widespread adoption of IoT technologies.

When it comes to the logistics of fulfilling orders, decentralized blockchain can practically eliminate the bottlenecks now facing fulfillment and shipping companies, focusing a greater percentage of the company’s human and computing assets on the actual filling of orders, inventory management, and shipping and delivery of goods. All communications between parties would be direct and instantaneous, making returns, refunds, and replacement orders infinitely simpler.

Do you keep a record of every purchase you make and save it forever? That’s basically what most returns, warranties, and service contracts demand. Proof of purchase is a chore, but blockchain would take care of that by decentralizing record keeping so each transaction party can instantly access a digital proof of purchase. This enhances customer loyalty and creates efficiency in the warranty and service business—perhaps by driving down prices and convincing more consumers to consider extended warranty purchases.

The potential for a seamless network of information flowing between manufacturers, OEM suppliers, retailers, retail service companies, financial service providers, and consumers is the embodiment of the potential of big data to solve everyday problems. While blockchain technology is a dense subject, the practical applications can help tear down the walls between small startup vendors, mom-and-pop retailers, and the giants of the technology retail and integration world. 

Need to Know More?

Have a burning question about blockchain — or maybe request for a different topic you’d like to see us tackle? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll put our top minds on it!

To learn more about Blockchain’s influence on other technology channels, check out these articles from NewBay sister titles: