While some naysayers continue to harp upon the shortcomings of blockchain, calling it overhyped, others, like the leadership at IBM, are betting the future well-being of their company on it.
Speaking from IBM's annual "Investor Day," three of IBM's top executives touted the merits of blockchain technology. They explained why the information technology titan is so bullish on it.
"IBM is a different company today," said CEO Virginia Rometty, depicting the rate of change at which the company has had to evolve. "We are at one of those moments where you see that ability to exponentially change a business about to happen again … one ingredient is all the data out there … The other is all the tools."
Rometty continued to describe how IBM's blockchain tools act as an aggregation tool for such "big" data, helping IBM's clients monetize what many believe to be the most valuable resource in the digital age.
Rometty also highlighted how the company is integrating blockchain with their artificial intelligence (AI) projects (similar to initiatives described last week by Samsung SDS CEO Hong Won-pyo). According to IBM, leading AI-for-enterprise developers believe that blockchain technology will eventually integrate with AI. This sentiment echoes market trends and even speculation from Ethereum researchers like Karl Floersch, who stated at Devcon3 that blockchain technology could eventually be used to create an ethical framework for governing the actions of AIs.
James Kavanaugh, IBM's CFO, continued to describe how the market leader is consistently moving first to develop emerging technologies. "The best example here I picked was blockchain, where today it's disrupting multiple industry segments that is addressing trillions and trillion dollars of market opportunity … We have over 35 active networks in production already today."
Finally, the blockchain commentary from IBM's executives was rounded out by Senior Vice President, IBM Global Industries, Platforms and Blockchain, Bridget van Kralingen, who highlighted that "blockchain is the ability to have an immutable permission record of all transactions and a flow of a time. So essentially you can think that any multi-party workflow between organizations could be … made to be instantaneous versus bilateral, which is a huge deal for organization processes."
Kralingen closed her remarks for investors by depicting a few figures the company believes to be representative of blockchains' potential. "We've taken a bet on the processes that are going to be most disrupted. $1.8 trillion we believe will be the value disruption in supply chain, $2 trillion in payments. And so we have actually taken investment and ownership bets in building blockchains with our clients and their ecosystems."
If there was an overarching sentiment, it was that blockchain was fundamental to IBM's future success. As noted by Rometty, IBM has an extensive track record both in developing technology and in serving enterprise customers, making their projections about the blockchain some of the most reputable available.
"Blockchain will do for trusted transactions what the internet did for communications and data," concluded Rometty.