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App developers are on the case

Blockchain is not plug-and-play. ITAMCO’s Joel Neidig said blockchain “does take a whole lot to set up.” So application developers are getting into blockchain to develop platforms that simplify blockchain adoption. It’s a replay of the late 1990s, when HTML coding needed to be tamed and simplified so Web sites could proliferate.

“The blockchain ledger by itself doesn’t do anything,” Microsoft’s Diego Tamburini said. “You need an app on top of it creating new blocks (based on your business needs).” IBM, Microsoft and numerous startups are developing offerings that will communicate with blockchain and help manufacturers achieve their individual business goals. michael-cromheecke-caption.jpg

Simbachain, produced by Neidig’s company, and Microsoft’s Azure product aim to take the pain out of starting and managing a private network. “We’re providing API and templates for people getting started,” Neidig said. “We’re providing early use cases so people can hit the ground running. It takes some technical expertise. Just the understanding of how it works is a challenge.”

“The opportunity for us is to simplify the development of blockchain-based applications end to end,” Tamburini said. “We want to hide the programming, the scaffolding, the authorizations and the particulars so developers can focus on creating the business logic and smart contracts.”

Companies like Steamchain are working to develop applications tailored to clients’ problems and business needs. Early APIs and platforms also enable end users to easily access blockchain, similar to the way Web browsers, paired with an Internet data connection, allow users to access the Internet.

“One of our clients purchases machines and locates them at their vendors’ sites,” Steamchain’s Michael Cromheecke said. “The vendors run the machines and produce the parts the client needs. The challenge is when it comes to crunch time and our client is not getting what they need to fulfill their orders. They call their vendor and say, ‘We need this stuff urgently,’ and they get subjective answers, such as ‘We ran for six hours yesterday. We’ll get it to you.’

“With blockchain and smart contracts, our client can see exactly what the machine is producing and pay as they go, based on production. That results in a financial performance incentive for the vendor.”