IBM Malaysia’s MD and the Blockchain Sphere

Asia Blockchain Review
February 13, 2020

When it comes to reshaping industries, the power of blockchain allows corporations to reinvent and reimagine their operations to meet the expectations of the future.

At Asia Blockchain Review, we recently caught up with Catherine Lian, the MD of IBM Malaysia, for her thoughts on all things blockchain. When it comes to technology, things are always moving fast and changes are always occurring at an exponential pace. We also asked her what she sees in terms of the B2B angle in the blockchain space, and her overall take on the marketplace.

The Future Is Now

“Today, there are at least four technologies which by virtue of their exponential growth are having a material effect on business….cloud technology, both hybrid and public, impacts us now and will be increasingly important in every industry, including B2B,” Lian stated. She went on to say that Artificial intelligence (AI) recently transitioned from narrow AI to broad AI – where AI can solve a broad class of relatively complex problems. Interestingly, she feels that blockchain technology is just starting to get on that S curve in terms of commercial impact, but in the next three to five years it will be huge. 

It’s A Global Effort

IBM has 1,500 employees working on more than 500 blockchain projects in industries like shipping, banking, healthcare and food safety worldwide. The company’s early collaboration with Maersk resulted in TradeLens, an end to end digital shipping platform. TradeLens aims to improve shipping by minimizing paperwork and the documentation errors that often accompany it. It has been adopted by shipping companies in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the European Union. More than 150 million transactions have already been logged on its blockchain. To date, more than 4,000 shipping containers are being tracked, with plans to add more. 

Collaborations Are The Way To Go

In the financial sector, IBM also collaborated with Deutsche Bank, HSBC and UNicredit to mainstream blockchain technology in the global financial sector. “In Thailand, we are helping the Thailand Blockchain Community initiative to introduce Blockchain to the financial community…IBM also worked with Seagate Technology to use blockchain to authenticate the provenance and combat counterfeiting of disk drive products,” added Lian. “For Malaysia, as we move into IR 4.0, Malaysian businesses need to transform digitally to be able to accommodate high client expectations and deal with pervasive interconnectivity,” she stressed. Lian believes that the minimum threshold for customer/user experience is the best one they had before and that the combined impact of  blockchain and AI technologies has started to reshape the standard business and technology architectures in the country. 

Malaysia Is Moving Forward Relentlessly

“The Malaysian government is working hard to provide excellent conditions for blockchain infrastructure in the country…IBM sees a growing adoption of blockchain technology by Malaysian enterprises…we have engaged in proof of concept for smart contracts, remittance, trade financing and supply chain,” Lian elaborated. She went on to say that digital transformation is creating breakthrough achievements. With the era of automation, blockchain has been incorporated in the small, medium and large enterprises in ASEAN where enterprises have started to understand the power of data. “However, the combination of increasing data complexity, as well as data preparation, skills shortages, and a lack of data culture are slowing down the AI adoption at a time when interest in AI continues to climb,” she pointed out. 

Be sure to stay tuned to our multi-series installment of this interview with Catherine Lian. Part 2 of this interview will come next week! 

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