Embracing blockchain and SAP at the “Cloud Hotel”

By: Ann Corrao

In my first blog in this series, I compared making cloud investments to deciding what to do on a dream vacation. Just like in our “Cloud Resort”, with lots of options for fun things to do, in a cloud environment, there’s are a lot of functionality to add value to your enterprise.

In this blog post, we’re going to investigate how blockchain — in a managed services environment — provides more transparency across environments that have many providers.

What’s the best approach for you?

One option for your vacation is a self-guided approach. Will you pick and choose what you do, or will you rely on the experts to guide you to what are the best options? The pick-your-own adventure approach leaves all the choices and the research required to make those decisions in your hands. While presenting the advantages, the self-guided route may not be right for all people. There’s a definite investment in time and resources and the possibility that you could miss experiences you weren’t aware existed. In another approach, you rely on experts for their experience and knowledge of your surroundings. With managed application services, you work with experts to tailor a blockchain solution that fits your needs while helping you plan for the future. Time-consuming details are taken care of by people whose job is to know these details. Just sit back on the beach and let us take care of you.

Technology to create value

Blockchain. It really is more than a buzzword. And as it gains acceptance, IT experts like those at IBM are discovering new ways to put this technology to work. Blockchain is a shared and continually reconciled spreadsheet that is duplicated across a network of any number of computers. Because the blockchain isn’t stored in any one place, the records are public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt.

The possibilities for this technology are only now being understood. Experts in the field are identifying new ways to put it to work regardless of industry, company size or business function. For instance, blockchains are radically transforming insurance operations with faster verifiable data exchanges, visibility for all parties, and transactions underpinned with pervasive security and trust. The increased transparency and security are important for insurers dealing with sensitive financial and personal information, often with many parties involved.  

One of the most powerful use cases for blockchain is integration with ERP systems like SAP, which can impact multiple parts of a business from manufacturing, to accounting, and supply chain. When you combine blockchain with SAP, you can have an end-to-end view of your supply chain, for example, to track a pharmaceutical shipment from beginning to end. Check out this demo to see how combining blockchain with SAP and Watson IOT in a cloud managed service environment can provide real-time distribution status and allow a user to take immediate action to rectify any issues that arise.

And with the use of a “smart contract,” you can carry out credible transactions without third-party involvement. These transactions are trackable and immutable. Smart contracts are used to exchange money, property, shares, or anything of value in a transparent, conflict-free way.

Though started to track digital currency, bright minds found ways to apply blockchain technology to other types of transactions and processes — as with SAP — in a variety of industries including banking, insurance, and customer relationship management

Amplifying the power of blockchain

Blockchain is a potential game-changer, but many of the CIOs I know simply lack the time and resources to consider it or other advanced technologies like analytics and IOT. Many IT departments are too busy managing their infrastructure and applications. This is the power of letting a managed service provider like IBM provide infrastructure and application support. Once your resources are free from managing your infrastructure and applications, you can focus on projects that provide strategic value  projects that many of their CEOs are asking for.

A managed services provider like IBM can bring together the best experts on not only blockchain, but other technologies like AI and analytics, and help tie it into your existing ERP systems like SAP and Oracle for end-to-end, company-wide innovation and transformation.  

Discover the potential

As a cutting-edge technology, we’re only beginning to understand the potential offered by blockchain. It can be applied across industries and in both customer-facing and back-office technologies. You can tackle these possibilities by yourself or you can turn to IT pros who can help get the most of advanced technologies like blockchain in a managed service environment. Check out this whitepaper to learn more about how managed application services can help you make real progress on your digital transformation journey. Meanwhile, can I offer you a margarita?

Learn more about IBM Services for Managed Applications. Visit our website or check out our playlist on YouTube.

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About The Author

Ann Corrao

CTO and Distinguished Engineer IBM Enterprise application management

Ann Corrao is CTO and Distinguished Engineer for IBM Services for Enterprise Application Management, which delivers SAP applications, oracle applications, and managed mobility services. Her specialty is in storage and developing cloud services. In her role as CTO, Ann sets the technical strategy and drives market innovation. She has lead the software-defined storage strategy for... Read more