How IBM Uses Blockchain to Power Its Technology Support Services

By: Juli Trexler

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Blockchain may be the foundation for today’s cryptocurrencies, but it’s also making its presence known throughout the digital economy in a number of other ways. One of its more innovative applications is in the realm of technology service and support. The digital ledger technology provides a new level of confidence to ensure companies meet the responsibilities outlined in service-level agreements (SLAs).

 

 

In the modern enterprise, a large percentage of IT support and maintenance is automated and proactive. Fixes, patches, updates and other functions take place without any notification to human operators. This automation saves time and money, but it also presents a challenge: How can IT provide proof of service, value, and trust that this work has been completed?

 

IBM recently launched a new Support as a Service capability powered by IBM Blockchain and aimed at businesses engaging in digital transformation. By embedding blockchain into our Multivendor Support Services “smart contracts,” we can provide transparent, audit-ready transaction data while monitoring SLA metrics and accountability. This process also streamlines and automates the billing processes to more closely match the speed and dynamism of the digital business model.

Trust in Blockchain

The promise of blockchain is that a shared distributed ledger creates a tamper-resistant record of transactions that enable trusted and audit-ready products and services. When using blockchain, trust is delegated to people and even objects such as sensors and monitors that occupy a shared network. If one of these data sources isn’t trusted to perform well, it can be automatically rejected by the other objects on the network, as well as the transaction record itself. In this way, the ledger and its “smart contract” become the foundation of trust.

This ability to preserve trust becomes increasingly important as contracts grow in both size and complexity and transaction data is shared continuously, in near-real time. By time-stamping contract-related events and adding them to a tamper-resistant record, support providers can effectively embed trust into the digital ledger. Meanwhile, all participants receive a complete copy of the ledger — although permissioning policies and other security provisions can prevent some participants from viewing every detail without compromising their competitive advantage.

 

In this way, we expect blockchain to become an essential resource for the enterprise to evaluate contract performance, reduce the complexity of billing processes and eliminate unrealizable billing costs due to lack of evidence or an over-delivery of services.

In the book “The Naked Corporation,” authors Don Tapscott and David Ticoll define business as “the expectation that the other party will behave according to the four principles of integrity: honesty, consideration, accountability and transparency.” Before blockchain, trust in digital transactions was built on the belief that individuals, intermediaries and other organizations were acting with integrity. In other words, we just had to believe them until discovering otherwise.

With blockchain now an integral part of IBM’s Support as a Service portfolio, our partners gain the ability to independently verify the activities driving their digital business processes, providing new-found confidence that they are both delivering and receiving exactly what is expected.

To learn more about IBM Multivendor Support Services and how we’re using blockchain to ensure delivery of technology support services, please get in touch with us.

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About The Author

Juli Trexler

Global Executive and Director, IBM Support as a Service Business Line, IBM Global Technology Services

Juli Trexler is the Global Executive and Director for IBM Support as a Service Business Line in IBM’s Global Technology Services Division. In this role, Mrs. Trexler leads IBM’s go-to-market strategy, offering portfolio, and P&L for this growing business line and manages some of the division’s largest global client accounts. Mrs. Trexler has been with... Read More