Blockchain: IBM’s ambitions questioned

IBM has, like some of its employees, reacted to information presenting its blockchain business as reduced to heartache.

Update of February 3, 2021 at 3:40 pm: IBM qualifies as “totally inaccurate” the article on which the questioning of its ambitions is based. “As is customary in the technology industry, resources can be moved or assigned to other projects,” adds the group.

Blockchain at IBM, an “empty shell”? It is the image that given CoinDesk, based on testimonies from four people more or less close to the American group.

His words had a certain impact. So much so that Big Blue ended up giving an official denial. Basically, we are told that all is well. Not without recognizing some repositioning within this activity, “like every year”.

What are the rumors about? Basically:

  • An income target not achieved – by far – for two years
  • A workforce reduced by at least 90%
  • The end of the consulting activity for the benefit of R&D alone

Has IBM lost customers who went to public blockchains? The idea is circulating. It echoes in particular the observations of PwC, which evokes their rise in power in the face of consortium blockchains.

IBM wants to “de-pilot” the blockchain

Several things give water to CoinDesk’s mill. Among others, the case of Jerry Cuomo. The person has been leading IBM’s blockchain activity since entering the commercial phase. But in recent months, he has additional functions focused on AI and hybrid cloud.

A few members of IBM’s blockchain team have reacted publicly. One of them is advancing a strategic maneuver that could explain the expansion of Jerry Cuomo’s responsibilities. The idea is to integrate the blockchain in a more global approach to the transformation of business processes, in connection with ERP … and AI systems. Food Trust, IBM’s flagship project, will thus be included in a package “Supply chain transformation”.

Two IBM blockchain projects have been the subject of a press release since the start of the year. On the one hand, a production launch with insurance companies in Thailand. On the other hand, a partnership with an American company on the traceability of “responsible” fashion accessories. In December, Big Blue had rallied Salesforce to its implementation of the “health passport”: the Digital Health Pass.

Over the years, the blockchain has become less present in IBM’s financial communication. However, the group continues to assert itself as a leader, on the basis of a study… which dates back to 2017.

Main illustration © ORNL


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