IBM Malaysia’s MD on the Blockchain Paradigm

Asia Blockchain Review
February 27, 2020
ABR Interview IBM Malaysia

In our 3rd part of this multi-installment interview series, we got to catch up recently with Catherine Lian, the MD of IBM Malaysia, for a wide-ranging interview on the state of blockchain technology and just how things are panning out in Malaysia, the broader ASEAN regions and the world as a whole.

In the world of blockchain led technologies, most people think of it as a disruptive type of technology, but in most cases, it’s about evolution and liberalization. The simplicity of blockchain is about unparalleled visibility to information, an asset that is traditionally guarded and commonly abused. It’s all about transparency, that can not only reduce the burden of compliance on companies and businesses but also limit the influence of intermediaries.

Reinvention is now the Norm

IBM Blockchain solutions are reshaping industries the world over. The race to reinvent the world is definitely on. Food supply, media & advertising and trade finance are the main thrusts of IBM’s blockchain-related efforts. We asked Catherine Lian, if she could perhaps shed some light on how things are panning out in these areas for 2020. “Last year (2019) was a turning point for enterprise blockchain as the technology expanded beyond adoption by innovators and first movers…this year we see new governance models emerging to manage decision making, permissioning schemes and payments,” she elaborated. 

The Chain of Life

Lian shared an example in the food supply chain, as IBM is establishing a food trust network using blockchain platform to ensure food safety and tackle wastage, fraud and pandemic concerns. The Food Trust operates on a fully permissioned network with a governance model mandates a set of policies surrounding its security, privacy, and network integrity that’s constantly being reviewed and updated–all in an effort to prevent collusion. As a foundational principle of blockchains, trust anchors, or participants on the Food Trust network, are collectively responsible for ensuring the integrity of the shared ledger. 

Blockchain Keeps Looking Ahead

At CES 2020, IBM launched Farmer Connect to track the origin of coffee and Terra Delyssa to track olive oil. “Overall, responding to client demand and needs is important but it’s also crucial for us to keep looking ahead…I see two challenges to success for blockchain – first, we must find clients who understand the technology and can truly benefit from it…and secondly, we must create a standardized system that can scale across industries,” she added. This is where IBM’s work with HyperLedger at a global level, a forum where companies from multiple industries can work together to develop blockchain technologies, has proven to be a step in the right direction.

Think Big but Start Small

It has been said that for organizations to realize the true potential of Blockchain technology, they need to think big but start small. Blockchain and digital transformation projects share similarities where factors such as scope, scalability, confidentiality, compliance, regulatory requirements have an impact on its execution. We asked Lian about her opinion on this, and she was forthright with her thoughts. “All of IBM blockchain projects began small and grew on that premise…the blockchain collaboration with Maersk is an example where it began with one shipping company to grow to be Tradelens a digital shipping platform with over 200 member companies today,” she concluded.

Be sure to catch Part 4 of our multi-installment interview series with Catherine Lian, MD of IBM Malaysia next week!

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