Blockchain is inextricably linked with the crypto currency Bitcoin. However, there has been considerable effort to develop viable use cases the can be applied to all aspects of business. The next 12 months will likely show if there is a viable case for enterprise adoption of blockchain technology. IBM made a strategic decision to move into the blockchain space very early on (in 2014) and assert itself as one of the leaders in the Hyperledger Project.
A recent IDC Vendor profile gives some key insights into the IBM blockchain strategy:
- IBM's goal for blockchain is to develop enterprise-ready solutions that overcome existing limitations of the technology in terms of privacy, confidentiality, auditability, performance, and scalability. This involves primarily increasing speed and security of blockchain operations to meet enterprise requirements, and developing platforms for permissioned networks to enable proper enterprise governance models and networks in which members with specified information access are not only permissioned but are also private.
- IBM has launched the first production of its large-enterprise blockchain, which solves transaction disputes in the IBM Global Financing (IGF) program. Thanks to a comprehensive view of operational data from purchase orders to remittances consolidated and distributed to all parties in the transactional ledger, IBM estimates it will decrease the amount in dispute from $100 million a year to $30 million and reduce average dispute resolution time from 44 to 10 days.
- IBM has announced multiple enterprise deployments within as well as outside the financial services sectors for 2017. This includes CLSNet, a bilateral payment netting solution for CLS Group's foreign exchange market products and currencies, and a smart contracts solution for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Notable proofs of concept (POCs) were announced recently, including a know-your-customer (KYC) identity management solution for Crédit Mutuel Arkéa; an end-to-end food traceability system for Walmart; transaction management among a network of shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports, and customs authorities working with Maersk; and consumer digital identity with SecureKey. IDC suggests that IBM capitalize on its successful blockchain take-off by establishing conversations with regulators to see whether it could be possible to mandate the use of blockchain in areas that would benefit from it.
IDC concludes that IBM is quickly emerging as a strong candidate for a leader in blockchain enterprise adoption and offers the following guidance:
- Lobby the regulators to make blockchain mandatory.
- Capitalize on a market emerging around General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance.
- Ensure that Hyperledger Project sticks to the technology's core and be modest with release frequency.
Commenting on IBM's progress with blockchain, IDC states, "There is nothing inherent in blockchain as a technology that would limit its development and adoption in financial services, and as mentioned earlier, blockchain is appealing to enterprises in many verticals with some preliminary evidence suggesting comparable or even higher adoption plans in areas outside financial services. Seeing specific use cases outside financial services so early in the maturity cycle is relatively promising."
This is an interesting space and IBM have shown foresight to get involved early on. Find out more on IBM's blockchain strategy, use cases and access to the IDC Vendor Report.