Blockchain Explained

Marketing blockchain: The human side of the story

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There’s a quote on the wall just inside the door of the 6th floor offices where the IBM Blockchain marketing team for North America works here in New York: “Every time we’ve moved ahead in IBM, it was because someone was willing to take a chance, put his head on the block and try something new.” Walking by those words — spoken by titan of 20th century business Thomas Watson Sr. — is a constant reminder that playing it safe gets you nowhere, and that, quite often, the best way to manage risk is to embrace it.

It’s a quote that seems particularly germane to the world of blockchain these days. According to a recent report, 92 percent of blockchain projects have failed. While the reasons behind those failures are varied, it presents an important question: what are the other 8 percent doing right?

Remove friction, build trust and unlock new value across businesses and industries

We’ve set out to provide some answers in our latest content series titled Value Visionaries. These are success stories told by business and technical leaders reshaping their companies, their industries — and even the world — with the help of IBM Blockchain.

Our goal was to go beyond the technical discussions of blockchain to understand the human elements that make it work. After all, one of the most important tenets of blockchain is that it’s a team sport. And if you’re a leader in any team sport, understanding human behavior is vital — not just of the people you’re trying to lead, but also your own.

Our first episode features Roberto Mancone, Chief Operating Officer of, the blockchain trade finance network comprised of 14 European banks. Roberto is leading these longtime competing banks into a new era of unprecedented collaboration, injecting trust and transparency into a vital aspect of the global economy — and one that sorely needs it.

It’s estimated that 80 percent of the world’s trade is based on some form of credit or guarantee between buyers and sellers. The institutions extending and managing that credit rely on an antiquated, paper-based system that’s costly and susceptible to errors. For many of those buyers and sellers — particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — the system prevents them from getting the credit they need to do business. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all finance requests from SMEs are rejected, resulting in a $1.5 trillion trade finance gap.

That’s a monumental challenge. And Roberto has raised his hand — or placed his head on the chopping block, if you will — to help solve it. So we spent an afternoon in an Amsterdam film studio interviewing him, learning what motivates him, how he motivates others, and how that’s come together in with the help of IBM Blockchain. We poured over 50 pages of transcripts looking for his best answers (and getting a great education on trade finance from one of the world’s leading experts on it). And then we illustrated what Roberto’s vision looked like as it came to life.

Here are the results. First, Roberto’s video, making its debut today on the IBM Blockchain Services page and other IBM Blockchain pages:

And then, a full interview article appearing on many of those pages where Roberto provides deeper insights into his blockchain journey.

Working together, these two pieces provide vital content that our audiences are asking for: recent research we commissioned revealed that 65 percent of respondents want to learn about the personal experiences of blockchain leaders in their journeys, and another 60 percent want to learn what key hurdles those leaders had to overcome.

We think this series is unique, shedding new and necessary light on what it takes to make blockchain successful, straight from the mouths of leaders who are doing it. Look for additional episodes of Value Visionaries coming soon across more IBM Blockchain web pages — and many thanks to our IBM Blockchain colleagues for putting their heads on the chopping block with us to bring this idea to life.

Turn your blockchain strategy into business outcomes

IBM Blockchain Creative Content Director - Copy IBM Industry Platform

Jose Fernandez

Creative Content Director - IBM Industry Platform

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