Just a few years ago, organizations began to show interest in using blockchain as a technology to increase trust, transparency and collaboration for many organizations that share sensitive business data. However, as the blockchain area evolves, more and more companies are beginning to see blockchain not as a technology, but as an important business tool for digitization.
IBM Blockchain General Manager Alistair Rennie noted the development earlier this year. Cointelegraph was happy to speak with Rennie to learn more about the growing corporate landscape of the blockchain landscape, how blockchain plays an important role in IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy, and why Big Blue is closely aligned with the principles of licensed private networks.
Cointelegraph: What is IBM’s blockchain strategy?
Alistair Rennie: Now that blockchain has been on the market for a reasonable number of years, and we have worked with hundreds of networks, we wonder where blockchain is in the digital transformation of the company.
For example, there is a lot of work going on in financial services and supply chain networks. We also found that many of these networks are small in size, and that there are quite a few players who start with some important value propositions. Networks can start simple and grow over time, and we will try to solve some of these challenges with our package of solutions.
We also came to understand that blockchain fits into corporate architecture, as it enables companies to digitize their business processes in conjunction with other companies. This shows that blockchain is transforming from a technology to a real business tool, and that adoption can happen very quickly. For example, when COVID-19 began, we saw exceptional examples of data exchange between companies using blockchain as a mechanism. But what really impressed me was the speed.
Blockchain does not have to be a complex long-term project. However, we are actually working with blockchain to become a core component of our hybrid cloud platform for collaboration and trust.
CT: Can you elaborate on the role that blockchain will play in IBM’s hybrid cloud platform?
AR: The unique thing about blockchain is that it allows people to integrate and manage workflows outside the company. There are ways to do this today, but they tend to be cumbersome and involve many centralized programs and changing processes.
Blockchain is proving to be a fast way to integrate business data when using smart contracts to automate workflows. This creates opportunities for cooperation and trust when organizations relate to several parties.
CT: How can private networks guarantee trust in third parties?
AR: Blockchain technology allows people to exchange information in the general ledger, and smart contracts control the workflow. For example, farmers in a blockchain network do not share all their data with other farmers, as people can control who sees what is on the private network.
This allows organizations to enter the blockchain network with a relatively secure mindset that data sharing is normal and that value can be retrieved from it. Finally, private networks allow people to see the data they want, while still maintaining a high level of self-confidence.
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A good example of this is what Atea ASA, a provider of IT infrastructure in the northern and Baltic regions, does. It uses the IBM Blockchain network to connect seafood producers with processors and resellers.
CT: How is IBM’s cloud platform different from what IBM Blockchain actually offers customers?
AR: The big difference is how we talk to customers. We have passed the stage where blockchain, like any other technology, is viewed through a purely technical lens. But now we see a generalization of this conversation.
We talk to people in the financial services and supply chains sectors where the word blockchain does not occur. All of these organizations are involved in finding, tracking, tracking and resolving conflicts. We will talk to companies about how you can collaborate and create workflows outside their own environments using blockchain. The IBM Hybrid Cloud Demo also offers everything an organization needs to easily build a blockchain network. This goes a long way when it comes to driving acceptance.
CT: What types of organizations want to pursue IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy?
AR: Supply chain management affects many companies. These organizations try to provide transparency throughout the supply chain, which seems obvious, but it is actually very difficult because everything works in different systems.
In the sector for financial services, we see the use of blockchain in billing networks, ie.