Over the more than a hundred years of its existence, IBM has become a large-scale multinational giant, which has received acclaim thanks to the release of high-quality computer equipment and software.
Following Google and Amazon, IBM has recently plunged into the blockchain industry and decided to keep up with and invest huge amounts of money in the innovative technology.
Currently, IBM has more than 1,500 employees working on 500 blockchain-based projects for various sectors of life, including banking, logistics, healthcare, and food safety.
Recently, the corporation entered into a partnership with scientists at Columbia University to explore new uses of technology. A Center for Research, Education, and Innovations in the field of blockchain technology and data transparency was created on the basis of the educational institution. The center leverages Columbia University's academic advantages in science, technology, business, and law, combined with IBM’s extensive research and development experience.
In late August 2018, IBM launched a platform based on the Stellar protocol providing instant cross-border payments. The platform is available 97 percent of the largest banks that are IBM customers.
After the numerous resonant events of last year, including the Facebook-Cambridge Analytics data scandal (millions of popular social network user profiles were used without political consent of their owners), IBM blockchain division made a lot of efforts in the field of independent sovereign identification. The ultimate goal of this project is to guarantee users reliable protection of their personal data.
There are several reasons why IBM is so interested in blockchain technology.
First of all, it is the indisputable fact that the technology of distributed ledgers is surely becoming mainstream. Research of Gartner (a consulting company specializing in information technology markets) says that by 2025, the value of the business technology of blockchain will reach $176 billion, and by 2030, it will exceed an incredible $3 trillion.
If the prediction is correct, then IBM, as one of the pioneers of the industry, will receive fantastic dividends. The company is well aware that the introduction of innovative technology greatly increases the efficiency of business processes.
Among the areas of the greatest potential are:
Supply chain management. Using distributed ledger technology, one can achieve economic efficiency, simplify the provision of the production process, speed up and increase transparency of payments, and transfer of ownership rights.
Quality control. The technology allows for quick identification of the source of any irregularities in the supply chain. Investigations take less time and money as a result. Some industrial areas, such as the food industry, can thus acquire a new level of security.
The use of "smart contracts." With their help, any company will save significant funds by reducing the number of intermediaries and the ability to automatically carry out all stages of the implementation of the agreement.
Based on this, IBM has identified for itself three industries that will bring the greatest dividends in the future through the introduction of blockchain: healthcare, finance, and shipping. These are very massive areas, and the investment must be appropriate.
What IBM Risks
There has been a lot of talk about blockchain lately. The technology is mentioned in the media and seems to be a panacea for all ills. On the other hand, there is a whole army of skeptics who do not value innovation and who doubt its prospects, but some even think that technology is dangerous. Both positions are reasonable since society is only at the beginning of the path and has not yet come to the full realization of how blockchain will find use in the future.
IBM, however, is one of those corporations that is boldly pushing the boundaries of business when it comes to innovative projects. Evidence of this is the company’s century-long history. Everyone knows the story of the Watson supercomputer. The project, which began in 2006, did not bring the expected profit but made a breakthrough in the field of creating artificial intelligence. And although investors believe that they will not see dividends from the supercomputer for at least a few more years, the development of AI does not stop there.
Probably, in order to avoid similar mistakes, the corporation will act more carefully with blockchain.
The technology of the distributed ledger today is just as new as artificial intelligence. Too little time has passed for an objective assessment of the scope of the project. There are many angles that need to be smoothed out, and many questions that are not yet answered.
The whole world makes assumptions about when the blockchain will be incorporated into our everyday lives. But even if the new technology will soon be integrated into the interests of millions of users, IBM will see positive financial results much later.
How much effort and money IBM will invest in the development of projects based on the blockchain and their popularization depends largely on the massive introduction of technology in all sectors of life. Giants such as IBM that are open to innovation eventually change the world.
And if the company also works on the errors made with Watson and makes the right alignment, then it will receive an indisputable advantage over competitors in the use of blockchain technology for a long time.