If the blockchain is going to be an immutable record, you need to start with clean data. The question is, how do you get clean data into a blockchain database to begin with. It’s kind of a quandary for use cases not starting with a green field, but Venzee, a startup that has been helping customers clean up their retail supply chain data to share with large vendors, thinks it has an answer.
Venzee CEO Kate Hiscox sees this as a data transformation problem, something her company has been working to solve for the past three years in the retail space. That sector is awash in spreadsheets that have to be manually prepared to share with big retailers and their database requirements, she says.
Venzee acts as a data transformation layer, taking your spreadsheet information in its current form and helping to convert that data into a format that the big retailers like Amazon and Walmart can use. It’s bringing a level of automation, she says has been missing from this industry, one she has worked in for 18 years.
If you think about the blockchain, it’s really just a fancy new database, one where you have to ensure that the data going in is correct or you face having bad data in a system that is supposedly immutable and irrefutable. That would be a real problem.
Hiscox’s company has created a product called Mesh to deal with this. It’s essentially a data transformation tool for the blockchain that can work for a retail supply chain kind of scenario or other blockchain data transformation requirement and prepare the data to be moved in the appropriate format while providing a data review phase to ensure that it’s accurate, she says.
This involves a three-phase process. In the first, the data is validated, and this is a key phase for blockchain data. In the second it’s transformed to work in the new format and finally it’s transferred.
Say for example, you were moving data from a land registry to the blockchain. It would require moving the data from its current format, then validating the ownership records before putting it on the blockchain. This tool offers a path to doing that, but it also raises questions about the validation process.
If the blockchain is supposed to a trust-based system, how do you ensure that you aren’t creating a means to alter data instead of validating it? These are questions that need to be answered, but this tool is about getting the data ready and moving it. The system will require checks and balances beyond that.
This tool is currently available in private Beta and will be released in the first half of 2018.