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Blockchain tests delivering results and IBM seen as leader

Businesses that have invested in trials of blockchain technology will repeat their investments

Almost all enterprises that have carried out tests of where they can apply blockchain technology to their business are planning to continue investing in blockchain research and development.

According to a survey of 400 businesses by Juniper Research, 67% of companies that are testing blockchain invested over $100,000 in 2016, and 91% of these expect to spend at least the same in 2017 – on more trials or even integrating the technology to their operations.

Blockchain is best known as the distributed ledger technology underpinning the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, but it is being tried out in many business sectors. It maintains a permanent and tamper-proof record of transactional data. Unlike traditional databases, it is based on a peer-to-peer architecture and stores data across a network of computers.

Juniper’s survey also revealed IBM is seen as leading the way when it comes to blockchain technology, with 43% of respondents ranking the supplier number one. The second-highest ranked was Microsoft, with 20% putting the software giant in first place.

Customers such as the London Stock Exchange, Danish shipping company Maersk, French bank Credit Mutuel Arkea and food distribution multinationals are working with IBM to introduce Blockchain to their businesses.

The London Stock Exchange is currently testing out IBM’s blockchain technology in a platform to help small and medium-sized enterprises become more transparent so they can attract more investment. Maersk is working with IBM on the application of blockchain technology to track and manage the paper trail of shipping containers around the world.

Meanwhile, food industry giants including Nestlé, Unilever and Walmart are working with the supplier to apply the technology to the global food supply chain in an attempt to improve food safety. The diversity of its application will inevitably lead to more experimentation.

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Juniper Research said companies should focus on private blockchains for commercial deployments, rather than utilise public chains such as Bitcoin. It argued that most corporate applications would require the capability to restrict access to permissioned users, while companies would also need to have a degree of control over the development of the blockchain on which of their systems have become dependent.

According to Windsor Holden, author of the Juniper research: “Even if companies conduct initial testing using a public blockchain, in most cases, the shortcomings of these chains should disqualify them from many use cases, including financial settlement, public sector deployments, logistics and land registry.”

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