Blockchain has the potential to reimagine existing business networks, create new business models and unlock business value across industries. It enables the next generation of business networks to be built upon greater trust and accountability than current networked based systems which are highly dependent on centralized record keeping and decision making.
In a short span of time over the past few years, the market awareness of the technology has grown beyond a research topic to something that is widely discussed in business forums and social conversations. However, there is more to be done to separate the reality from the hype and extend the work that has been started.
In this post, we look back at highlights of the work that IBM has done in making blockchain real for business, reflect on the nature of the work and discuss key skills we look for from top talents to realize this vision of improving the way we do businesses and fundamentally change the way we interact with each other digitally.
Working with the Open Source Community
IBM is an early adopter and advocate for applying Blockchain for business. While Blockchain has been popularized by its application in the cryptocurrency space, for it to truly take off in a business setting, it required further work on aspects such as privacy, auditability, performance and governance models. Consequently, we worked to build a new blockchain platform that caters for the needs of entities operating in regulated or highly competitive business situations. We recognized that this endeavour was best served as an open source collaborative effort of organisations across industries, geographies and scale. Beyond open source, success requires Open Standards and Open Governance as well. As a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, IBM has been working with other members of the ecosystem to build the foundations of what is required. As of Oct 2018, the project has more than 250 members in the project and continues to grow in adoption.
Applying Blockchain for Business
While it is still early days in the adoption of the technology, we have been privileged to help apply technology across a range of different industry and use cases. Financial Services is one of the leading industries of the technology, We.Trade being one example of how different financial institutions across countries have come together to realize a common vision where companies can trade with greater trust. Beyond Finance, IBM has been working with companies such as Walmart and Carrefour to provide greater transparency in the food supply. Meanwhile, working with actors such as shippers, 3rd Party Logistics, shipping lines, ports and customs authorities, the TradeLens program aims to enable a global network of interconnected shipping corridors notably including a number of leading players in the Asia Pacific region.
Nature of the work
We collaborate with regulated financial institutions, government bodies and startups across Asia and beyond to design, and develop the next generation of business network, incorporating the work that IBM has started in the Open Source Community such as the Hyperledger Project, taking them through the journey of ideation, prototyping and production.
Working with fast and emerging technologies means that there is often little or no precedence from prior implementations that can be used as a reference. This is both unnerving and liberating at the same time. For example, established models for decision making based on centralized systems needs to be re-examined as we move towards a consensus based approach in the context of factors such as performance, privacy. This providing opportunities for innovations such as new forms of consensus algorithms, incentive mechanism for participating in a network and privacy preserving schemes that enables information to be shared on a need to know basis while preventing double-spend.
FreshTurf, being an example of how we work with startups to pioneer new business models.
Skills you need to be successful
For those who are considering a career as a blockchain software engineer in IBM, you can be expected to use your talents in software development, application architecture, cloud deployment towards building and defining how these next generation business networks will work.
As a solution architect, you will assess the opportunities and examine the impact of Blockchain technology to existing business processes, markets and systems and work with clients to develop a roadmap for adoption. You will be leading the design and development of solutions, leveraging technologies such as the blockchain frameworks and tools under the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project as well as the IBM Blockchain Platform is a great place to help you get started, with code samples, tutorials and reference architectures.
In most instances, you will be working in multi-disciplinary teams of business consultants, user experience designers, developers and other experts to develop Blockchain based solutions in short sprints and iterative cycles. You will utilize a combination of design thinking, agile development, and Lean Startup to build software. You will be tasked with not just changing the way business processes are run but also fundamentally changing the way we work and interact with each other.
Help realize the potential of the technology
Blockchain technology has enabled transparency of our food system, changed the way money is transferred, tackled fraud in the supply chain and supported new of ways of establishing identity on the internet. From Financial Services, to industries such as Travel and Transportation, Healthcare, Real Estate, Media and Entertainment, the application of Blockchain technology continues to be studied and tested as a means to foster greater trust and transparency in each of these ecosystem.
You will be tasked with not just changing the way business processes are run but also fundamentally changing the way we work and interact with each other. What’s more? You will be working closely with product development, solution architects, designers and client engagement experts to transform business processes and markets using Blockchain.