IBM is a heavyweight with credentials and more than enough influences to shake the foundations of entire industries, something that has been shown over and over again. The 107-year-old technological giant has held the record for most of the US patents generated for 25 consecutive years: the invention of the ATM is just one of its many successful inventions.
And now he turned his colossal eye to the latest trend with the power to define this new era of industry: Blockchain.
IBM and blockchain so far
IBM's investment in technology over the past two years has been vast. In addition, he led the industry by predicting that the technology will grow beyond the limits of its historical applications in the field of cryptocurrency. Instead, IBM has identified that the blockchain immutable ledger is a system with the potential to completely shut down the business as usual, anywhere.
IBM has spent the last few years working on a series of initiatives that seek not only to use technology in a range of activities, but to use their "heavyweight" status to use blockchain as a tool to democratize industries.
For example, at the beginning of this month he applied for a new "Blockchain for Open Scientific Research" patent, aimed at using blockchain technology to help scientific studies and provide an "anti-tampering register of scientific research". In it, IBM defines a dynamic collaboration system in which researchers can follow their work beyond institutional boundaries.
Visit Chief Data Officer Summit, part of DATAx New York, 12-13 December 2018
IBM has also recently asked to patent a system that would use distributed ledger technology as a solution for privacy and security problems in drones, as well as launch its own blockchain payment network to facilitate "almost in real time" international agreements between banks.
In addition to presenting numerous patents and creating blockchain-enabled solutions in various industries, IBM has initiated numerous initiatives that support blockchain innovation from the ground up. For example, this month IBM, in collaboration with Columbia University, has set up two new acceleration programs to support startups in the various stages of blockchain innovation.
IBM, blockchain and supply chain
IBM has focused its blockchain innovation on the supply chain, one of the key areas where the transparency and accounting system has the potential to change completely.
One of these systems, launched in 2017, IBM Food Trust, is a blockchain enabled food tracking platform for retailers, wholesalers and suppliers. Another investment in bringing the blockchain into the supply chain sector was TradeLens, its solution with Maersk to introduce a blockchain-based shipping solution. This solution aims to reduce time-consuming processes to provide a secure digitalized option for international business collaboration.
The TradeLens system
In an interview with Innovation company, Todd Scott, vice president of IBM's Global Blockchain division, explained how big the impact of TradeLens will be on the entire supply chain. "We need all the members of the ecosystem to shift the load on water courses to embrace digitization," he said.
For TradeLens, this means two things: "The first thing is that there will be a single platform that all participants can publish or subscribe to receive information on containers," Scott said. The demand for transparency along the supply chain has never been higher and using blockchains IBM and Maersk have created a method by which carriers can contact all the different parts along the route and view the status of shipments in one place. "This has a huge impact on shippers," he said. "Having all the information on a single, open and easily accessible platform has tremendous business value.
"The second thing is that the addresses of TradeLens are the huge number of documents that must be exchanged today through supply chain participants," Scott continued. Companies currently tend to pay huge amounts to carriers to move these documents, but this method is all but perfect. A lot of factors, like an individual in the supply chain who are not well, mean that things can be delayed or lost, costing the serious amounts of the industry. Blockchain can provide a platform where all these documents come together, increasing reliability while reducing costs and inefficiency.
"We are very excited to help an entire industry, an entire ecosystem move faster towards digitization and at the same time reduce costs," he added. And the potential impact of the TradeLens system is significant. "This is expected to lead to a 5-7% improvement in global GDP if this ecosystem improves only 15%," Scott noted.
IBM and the future of the blockchain
These examples are just a small selection of some of the jobs IBM has done to spread the technology and welcome a new era for companies. Overall, the company is working to introduce the blockchain to simplify many industries and help companies use it in the future. And he is ready to do weightlifting.
"I think our customers expect us to understand difficult things," revealed Scott. "From a technological point of view, customers feel very comfortable with IBM managing the blockchain, they have no concerns that the system is insecure or that it runs out of capacity because they trust us to create a secure platform. # 39; I already did – we are in the platform industry for decades.
"One of the things we've always done is to listen to the market to make sure their needs are met and when it comes to blockchain it's the same: they expect us to show this leadership and demonstrate we have the ability to maintain that."
So, what is the blockchain that makes IBM so sure it's the future?
"It only addresses many unilateral concerns and business problems," Scott explained. "If a customer comes to us looking for a platform for safe and reliable business processes, blockchain has the ability to respond to these concerns and, using technology, can minimize paper and work in a trusted environment where they know that information is not shared without their permission.
"We are very enthusiastic about the solutions we have, we are very enthusiastic about entering the market and we are very optimistic, we have made good progress in 2018, but we are looking forward to making further progress in 2019," Scott said.
What does this mean for blockchain?
IBM's current investments in technology are just the tip of the iceberg, and as we watch it evolve, no doubt the number of innovations that will result will multiply. With one of the largest technology companies with a century-long history of technological innovation behind it, the potential of the blockchain to destroy and democratize a number of industries could prove to be unstoppable.