Visit Fast Forward, Intel’s new business resource center, for actionable insights for small business success.  Blockchain may have gained notoriety as the technology that provides the infrastructure for Bitcoin, but it’s playing a bigger role in business, including small and midsize businesses (SMBs).  At its most basic, blockchain is a more efficient way of storing information. What makes it more powerful than any other file-sharing service is that data isn’t stored from the point of view of any one participant, but rather from everyone’s point of view in agreement.

That means that two parties sharing a document will always be looking at the same exact copy of that information, eliminating the time-consuming back-and-forth that comes from ensuring that everyone has the same version of, say, a contract or an invoice. Blockchain creates an audit trail that everyone can see in real time.

This is especially important for small businesses that are constantly looking for ways to streamline their operations, says Bill Carmody, CEO of Trepoint, a digital marketing firm. Here are some of the ways blockchain is enabling entrepreneurs to operate their businesses more efficiently and with greater transparency.  Better supply chain management.

When a small-business owner places an order with a supplier, it’s clear who’s on the other end of the transaction. But the business owner may not know who the supplier’s suppliers are.

By bringing transparency into the supply chain, blockchain enables a business owner to see every company that’s had a hand in creating, growing, or manufacturing any component of a product it sells or service it delivers. This kind of information is vital in the event of a product recall or if a company needs to identify ethical sourcing or to avoid purchasing counterfeit parts, Carmody says. Read more from inc.com…

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