In an instructive Q&A, Rene Bostic, VP for innovation and new technologies for IBM, explains the people, process and technology blueprint for blockchain success
Secrets to a winning blockchain strategy
Wed 9 Jan 2019 | René Bostic
What are the key considerations enterprises miss when planning, assessing and implementing their blockchain applications?
There are many considerations. Here are the top three:
- Determine the scope of the ecosystems and who will be most likely to participate. Invite participants early in the decision-making process.
- Can the root causes of the identified problem be solved with blockchain technology or a traditional distributed database application? A successful implementation of blockchain is also based on good design.
- Determine if there is a need to integrate with back-end systems. As an example, does a retail blockchain application need to interface with an enterprise inventory system?
Why is it important that businesses get involved today?
Blockchain networks are being formed today for every industry. If you are involved at the early stage it is an opportunity to influence the design, governance and regulatory processes to ensure that the network will deliver value and a competitive edge for your company. You will also be one of the first companies in your industry to benefit from this infrastructure. If you wait, then your competitors might define this for you and set the ground rules for your industry.
What are the ingredients of a winning blockchain team?
First and foremost, executive sponsors and subject matter experts from the line-of-business and IT are critical. What problems can be solved if multiple companies or entities share the same distributed ledger? Identifying potential participants in the business network and bringing them into the discussion early positions the blockchain solution for success.
An enterprise architect is required because he or she understands how systems work today and can provide the blueprint of how blockchain can improve processes. Finally, the development, network and security teams will need to have the expertise to create a blockchain application that is secure and built to scale.
Although we are in the era of ‘mass adoption’, what reservations do businesses still have around the technology and are these legitimate?
Businesses want to be transparent as they write data to the blockchain; however, they don’t want their competitors to have access to confidential information. So, they are rethinking whom they should partner with in architecting and developing a blockchain solution. GDPR raises questions about how a company implements an immutable distributed ledger while complying with the GDPR right to erasure or right to be forgotten.
These are legitimate concerns. Having a technology partner, like IBM, provides not only the technology but also the expertise in creating secure and scalable transaction systems with data privacy. With over 500 blockchain projects and over 50 active business networks, IBM is committed to providing enterprise-grade blockchain. Thus, whom you choose as your technology partner makes the world of a difference about your confidence level in blockchain technology.
Have we witnessed a change in the attitude of businesses towards blockchain in recent years?
As with other new technologies, blockchain also moves along the technology adoption curve. The IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) reports that 2017 was the year that most trailblazing businesses implemented a commercial blockchain solution at scale. The era of mass adoption began in 2018 and is estimated to continue through 2020. Businesses are identifying value-driven blockchain use cases and committed participants to join their networks. The momentum is amazing. I often say that blockchain is a team sport. Reach out to me so that I can share with you why IBM is the best quarterback.
*René Bostic is the worldwide technical vice president of innovation and new technologies for IBM Cloud. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging technologies such as Blockchain.