IBM Blockchain Expansion Plans Are Here and They Are Super Bullish on DLT


As many of us already know, in recent times, blockchain technology has slowly crept into a multitude of different industrial sectors. In this regard, U.S. based tech giant IBM, has been leading the charge by establishing a name for itself in terms of its blockchain-based products and offerings.

A Brief Look At IBM’s IoT Journey

IBM’s involvement with blockchain can be traced back to as early as 2014, when the firm started to look into the Internet of Things (IoT) business model. After a few months of research, IBM collaborated with Samsung so as to explore the possibility of appliances interacting autonomously with their surroundings.

In addition to this, IBM also announced in early 2015 that it would be investing $3 Billion in a new IoT venture that would further look to optimize the true functional potential of this burgeoning technological space.

IBM Is A Pioneer When It Comes To Blockchain Implementation

IBMs foray into the world of blockchain technology started in 2015 when the company’s Research Head, Arvind Krishna, confirmed that the firm was intent on exploring blockchain based banking opportunities (so as to empower the global middle class) using decentralized ledgers.

The project finally took shape by April of that year and was one of the first protocols to implement smart contracts as a means of logging transactions between different parties ( so as to facilitate large payments across the world in a seamless manner).

As things stand, IBM’s Blockchain platform is fully functional. It makes use of Linux’s Hyperledger Fabric, a technology that too was developed in conjunction with IBM’s dev team.

Jerry Cuomo: “We Want To Continue To Explore The Global Financial Terrain”

Another area where IBM seems to be making major inroads is today’s burgeoning digital finance sector. Through its Global Financing platform, IBM is looking to streamline the workload that is faced by banks on a daily basis— an issue that causes more than $100 million to be stuck in disputes at any given time.

According to official statistics, IBMs proof-of-concept for the project has already allowed for two years worth of transactions to be processed in under 10 days (on various different lending networks).

Partnerships

Another area which IBM has delved into extensively is that of ‘partnering’ with companies within various niche’ technological domains. As a result of its numerous partnerships, IBM has been able to influence the workings of a wide array of industrial sectors.

For example, in June 2016, IBM teamed up with a Finnish development agency in an effort to implement smart contracts within the company’s supply chain of shipping containers.

The aim of this project was to reduce cargo transit times between the Baltic states of Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia.

Similarly, IBM in conjunction with the Singaporean government, opened an ‘Innovation Centre’ in the city to promote the development of novel blockchain-based applications. Lastly, during late 2016, IBM got together with the Bank of Tokyo and Mitsubishi so as to

explore the possibility of using blockchain-based smart contracts to facilitate internal transactions between the aforementioned companies. The goal of this entire exercise was to automate all financial transactions taking place between the involved parties using the Hyperledger protocol.

Disrupting The Supply Chain Industry

Another sector where IBM has made its mark is within the logistics and supply chain sector. Through the use of its blockchain platform, IBM has been able to lure in many high-profile companies such as Walmart and Maersk so as to help them streamline their business processes.

Walmart’s association with IBM can be traced back to the latter half of 2016 when the American retail giant requested the firm to develop a blockchain platform that would allow it to “drastically expedite the tracking of its products within their stores”. The project took a few months to get off the ground, but by the first week of December the first iteration of Walmart’s new tracking system was successfully used to ship goods within China.

After seeing Walmart’s success with blockchain, other companies like Unilever and Nestle too jumped on the opportunity to make use of such a system for their food-tracking platforms.

Lastly, another major tie-up that IBM was able to secure was with global freight company ‘Maersk’. The project was initiated in March 2017 and took over a year to complete. The point of this project was to develop a system that could monitor the movement of voluminous freight across the globe.

Bitcoin Hardware

While most of IBMs work has been focused on creating software, the retail giant has also dabbled in the creation of unique hardware.

For example, last year, the firm launched IBM Z, a blockchain-powered mainframe server that was designed to to process over 12 Billion cloud transactions within a defined time frame. Not only that, the server was also said to be able to encrypt data 18 times faster than conventional platforms available at the time.

Governmental And Legal Framework Assistance

While not as well recognized, but IBM’s work has even penetrated into the sphere of legislation and governance over the past few years. To start with, we can look at the example of IBM teaming up with blockchain startup Proxeus in an effort to overhaul the firm’s transaction framework. Similarly, earlier this year, IBM teamed up with Mediaocean to launch a blockchain-based tracking system to account for digital media transactions (so as to reduce advertising fraud in the sector).

In terms of its work with government agencies, IBM recently entered into a $740 million deal with Australia for its blockchain-based data security services. The goal of this project is to provide the Aussie government with a framework that provides AI automation support so as to help streamline work between different wings of the regime in a hassle free manner.

Lastly, it is also worth noting that IBM is currently working with the Municipality of Riyadh in order to help develop a blockchain strategy that will streamline governmental processes in the area.

Final Take

Having already established itself as a market leader when it comes to blockchain technology, IBM is now laying new foundations so as to further its efforts within other upcoming industrial segments. As per a statement made by the firm’s CEO, Virginia Rometty, IBM is all set to create 1800 new jobs within niche’ spaces such as blockchain, AI and IoT in the coming few months.

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