Blockchain will have the same impact long-term as we have seen the internet have on commerce, said Laurence Haziot, global managing director of IBM, at FashMash Pioneers.
A leading woman in the STEM industries, Haziot looks after IBM’s Worldwide Consumer Industries division, which includes retail, consumer products, wholesale and agriculture. She believes strongly in the potential of blockchain for the future, from the impact it can have on the supply chain to the role it will play in sustainability and transparency.
While it’s nascent right now, the fact that this digital ledger was designed from the beginning to be more secure than current systems we rely on, is key, she explains. That doesn’t make it a silver bullet, but it does make it an opportunity.
IBM is already trialling use cases of the technology as a result, including provenance for food safety at Walmart, shipping efficiencies for Maersk, and diamond authentication for the jewellery industry in a project called TrustChain.
For retail specifically, Haziot is bullish on the results it could drive in terms of efficiencies throughout the entire supply chain, as well as traceability for a consumer only seeking ever more knowledge of what they’re buying.
It’s for that reason she sees blockchain infiltrating numerous job roles. “This is not an IT play,” she explains. “This is really a business topic – I think it will touch probably most of the functions in the company, from marketing to manufacturing, transportation and more.”
In this conversation with Rachel Arthur, Haziot also answers some tough questions on the limitations of the tech to validate authenticity, and leans on her experience of 30+ years at IBM to explore some of the surrounding innovations that are needed to make it viable long-term.