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Elisabeth Stahl on Benchmarking and IT Optimization

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Blockchain and Beyond: Wave or Storm? . . . And So Much More For High Growth Enterprises

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MAVA Sunrise

Last week I had the honor of being part of an industry panel entitled “Blockchain and Beyond: Wave or Storm?” This panel was part of the CEO/C-Suite Summit: Engineered for Growth that was hosted by MAVA, a 30 year old association that focuses on investing in high growth enterprises.

Think of a powerhouse for startups.

Many times when I discuss the benefits and use cases for blockchain I am talking with the system architects, the programmers, the implementers. For this panel I was actually highlighting blockchain in front of many who could invest, and invest big, in this emerging technology.

Many of the tranformational topics I addressed focused on ones I have discussed in the past. How blockchain can reduce costs, eliminate intermediaries, reduce time, and increase trust. How there are many differences between an enterpise permissioned blockchain and a permissionless cryptocurrency. How large organizations are using blockchain technology — such as Maersk tracking shipping containers, Walmart tracing pork products, and Northern Trust managing private equity.

But for this panel there was also an investment perspective: Where is blockchain on the hype and adoption curves ? What did we think of the latest bitcoin value ? Is it the Wild West or time to invest ?

MAVA Photo

After my panel I attended an amazing CTO roundtable with a group of diverse technologists: a data analytics startup CTO, a Fintech advertising technologist, an academic research chief scientist, a VP of technology of an education startup, and a cybersecurity defense consultant (who could not tell us very much about what he does!). It was awesome to collaborate and realize that we all had similar challenges — everything from data accuracy to security encryption to hiring for our teams. Fun fact: 3 of the 6 CTOs in the room had an advanced degree in Physics and were now working in Machine Learning.

The final session in the event was “Perspectives on the Acquisition from Both Sides,” fascinating lessons learned from founders of companies who then went on to acquire other companies or be acquired. Once thing I learned is that it can sometimes take many many years for an acquisition. That you need to be able to walk away. That you need to realize that a great mark of success for a startup is to take part in either acquiring or being acquired. And that CEOs of startups wear jeans and cool socks !

The luncheon speaker was NY Times best-selling author Liza Mundy who wrote “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.” We heard a compelling historical perspective on the foundation upon which the technology community today has been built. Super inspiring.

Note that this Summit was not 3 days, not 2 days, or even 1 day. It was a few hours. I have been seeing this trend with the workshops and meetups that I do. Everyone is looking to get more in less time. This event really showed me how well this can work. In a similar vein, I also had a discussion with a CEO of a technology startup who told me that he is done with reading 5 page papers (I did not let on that I actually used to write 50 page papers !) He told me he gets the most value from an infographic or very short article where a couple of key insights are highlighted.

MAVA’s goal with these events is to deliver compelling insight, ideas and perspectives to fuel significant competitive advantage for companies being built. They definitely hit a home run with this one.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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Written by benchmarkingblog

December 5, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Blockchain

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A Journey to Blockchain

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So you’ve heard about blockchain, know you want to get started with it, would really like to reduce costs, risk and process time. What are some of the keys to a successful adoption of blockchain?

In many cases work with blockchain starts as an experiment. A first test should be a relatively easy one – for example, a digital thank you for employees. That success can lead to pursuing a few Use Cases such as Payments, Fraud, Tracking, etc. It is critical to partner with a close distributor, business partner, supplier, friend, who will work with you. IBM did exactly this with our IBM Global Financing adoption of blockchain to reduce disputes — Lenovo was an initial partner.

Proof of Concepts and Use Cases are key to the blockchain journey. The best Use Cases are ones that are not too easy but not too hard. A purely internal use case is almost useless. You want a first Use Case that contains only a few nodes but that will create a large enough ROI to demonstrate a successful business case.

A cultural shift is a large part of the process, using the 80-20 rule: 80% shift of business processes and 20% technologies. I always say that the technology is the easier part; governance is harder.

That’s why it is beneficial to create a “Center of Excellence” to focus on blockchain:
1) To get your hands dirty
2) To explore Use Cases
3) To create a dedicated team and management

Challenges in the journey may include:
* Platform selection
* Lack of enterprise standards
* Lack of licensing models standards
* Management of organizations
* Quantitative validations of business cases
* Lack of skills

IBM Client Centers can assist with all of these challenges to make it a smooth journey. From taking advantage of the open source aspects of the Hyperledger Fabric and IBM Blockchain implementation to helping you choose the right Use Cases to architecting your applications.

So get going now on the journey to blockchain !

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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Written by benchmarkingblog

April 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Blockchain, Uncategorized

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Blockchain on my Mind

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It’s really hard to believe but I actually used to go hiking in jeans. That’s right, blue jeans. 100% cotton blue jeans.

Long before “cotton kills” became the mantra of the North Face set, everyone hiked in jeans. For years — mostly in the beautiful sunny summer, south of the Mason-Dixon line — it was actually just fine.

Until one day I got caught in a giant frigid rainstorm on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I quickly became soaked with icy water, my jeans drenched and hanging heavy. I’ll never forget getting off that mountain, jeans glued to my chilled skin. And then stripping down in the mountain parking lot, spreading everything on top of the car to dry out in the warm sun that had suddenly appeared.

A few years later I discovered these new zip-off hiking pants that could get wet and then dry almost instantly. This technology became a game changer for me. Suddenly, I achieved a decrease in unpleasant hiking time, a reduced risk from illness, and lower costs by avoiding a bad day on the mountain.

Blockchain, the distributed ledger that is everywhere in the news, is similar. Like with the zip-offs, some of us may be early adopters, some of us may have not even heard of it yet. But it’s a groundbreaking technology that is changing business at a breakneck speed.

Blockchain is a technology for applications that establishes trust, accountability and transparency while streamlining business processes. Approvals for items like letters of credit, invoices, mortgage verifications, clearings, and money transfers can now be done right away — and not take days to weeks to even months.

And don’t think that blockchain is just for the financial industry. The ledgers and smart contracts have great value cross-industry including supply chain, healthcare, government, retail. I’ve seen it work for shipping companies. I’ve seen an excellent use case for insurance companies.  I’ve seen it replace lawyers.

IBM is part of the Hyperledger Project, a collaborative effort created to advance blockchain technology by identifying and addressing important features for a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers that can transform the way business transactions are conducted globally.

IBM can help with understanding which of your applications will benefit from blockchain and how to get started. Some sure indicators that a workload could benefit from blockchain include managing contractual relationships between more than two parties, complex business logic, and looking to reduce cost.

Using high end systems such as IBM z and Power systems for blockchain implementations is key. Blockchain can be deployed on these systems or connect to these systems to take advantage of the fast processors, memory, cache, hardware accelerators and cryptography, security and integration. The GoLang APIs, the RocksDB database, and the security and consensus algorithms, all on which blockchain relies, can really benefit from these features.

(In fact, lately I’ve been finding it hard to stop thinking about blockchain. True story: Late last night I was innocently reading a book on the couch about Rosemary Kennedy while someone in my family was fixing our kitchen door. And suddenly he started talking about the block plane he was using . . .)

Blockchain addresses 3 of the most important things in the world: Time, Cost, and Risk. So pick a project and get started. Like zip-offs, the world will never be the same.

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The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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Written by benchmarkingblog

May 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Blockchain, Uncategorized

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