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How IBM is looking long-term to enable a business as usual blockchain future

How IBM is looking long-term to enable a business as usual blockchain future
At the recent Blockchain
Expo Europe event in Amsterdam, several of the use cases presented focused
on particular industries, from FMCG, to finance, to automotive. Yet to truly
understand blockchain technologies – as these examples all proved – you have to
go beyond an industry-centric mindset and paint a fuller picture.



IBM, who had an extensive presence at the event, had its own
automotive example it was showcasing, through its work with Vinturas .
Using IBM’s blockchain, the company is able to improve visibility on
operations, as well as accelerate deliveries and eliminate paperwork. Indeed, a
survey conducted by IBM in December found more than three in five automotive
executives saw blockchain as a disruptive force in the auto industry by 2021.



The automotive supply chain, like many others, encompasses
manufacturing, design, and retail to name a few – and this is worth noting when
exploring the cumulative impact of blockchain technologies, as Denise Schweitz,
marketing manager at IBM, explains.



“We’re not focused on certain industries per se,” Schweitz
tells The Block . “It’s more that we look at the process behind it.



“What technology now really breaks open are the processes
that are going across industry. If you’re in transportation of cars, you have
to cross borders, and then you encounter customs and processes which include
government organisations, automotive industries, and even as far as insurance
companies.



“Sometimes you have cross-industry views and processes where
you need to collaborate together to actually develop a solution and scale up in
the market.”



Schweitz, a 15-year veteran of IBM, has naturally focused on
other technologies during her career. One of her key interests is in the ‘API
economy’, a development to explain the increasing need to orchestrate
ever-increasing amounts of data and applications. Forbes coined
2017 as the year of the API economy – though the term had been in common
use long before – and Schweitz cites it as an earlier example of integrating
processes across industries.



With blockchain, this trend is only set to become bigger –
and not just in a business context. “This is one of the technologies which
brings parties together,” says Schweitz. “With the supply chain and the
customer experience, yes that’s one thing, but it’s also a civilian experience
as well. When you get ill, you’re in hospital, and electronic patient dossiers
need to be integrated, or when we start voting in certain countries and all the
electronic developments that happen there.



“It’s not just the commercial supply chain, or the
administrative processes that we want to improve, digitise and transform,”
Schweitz adds. “I think it’s also for really nice, inspiring moments to take
all these technologies and think about how we can use them to solve bigger
problems, global problems, that affect all of us on a micro level.



“What I like about blockchain is nobody on their own can
tackle global issues, but they do all affect us individually. That’s something
I think is really interesting and challenging – and that’s when you need all
industries to step up, digitise, transform, and get the right infrastructure.”



This is not to say that criticism of blockchain technologies
– of which there is plenty – is unwelcome, however. Speaking to this
publication in
February Ken Marke, chief marketing officer of the Blockchain Insurance
Industry Initiative (B3i), said he liked cynics and sceptics. “They keep us
honest, and they help us focus on the questions that really matter,” he
explained.



Schweitz feels similarly. “For now there are a lot of people
who are quite sceptical about the technology. I think that’s a good thing
because it keeps us sharp,” she says. “You need to improve, not everything is
perfect from the get-go. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and now look how
beautiful the city is!”



Ultimately, for blockchain to become truly accepted, it needs to disappear in the view of the end-user – and part of working across industry will help to achieve that. “As you scale up and as it becomes as big as the internet for communication, that’s when we start to really feel the value of this technology,” says Schweitz. “By then, nobody will look under the hood to see which technology is underneath. We’ll probably have all forgotten about blockchain being there, in the background running, because then it will be as business as usual.”







Interested in hearing more in person?  Find out more at the  Blockchain Expo World Series , Global, Europe and North America.


The post How IBM is looking long-term to enable a business as usual blockchain future appeared first on The Block .

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