IBM report highlights service provider executives’ perspectives on blockchain

Although blockchain only recently made its way onto the telecom stage, communications service providers (CSP) executives are already expressing interest in the technology. That is at least the conclusion of a recent report by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) titled “Reimagining Telecommunications with Blockchain,” which explored CSP executives’ views on blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a kind of software used to manage online transactions. With blockchain, users can forward bundles of records, known as blocks, into a chronological chain while using cryptography to ensure the records are not modified. These records can consist of anything, from medical data to stock trades. The decentralized and distributed approach of blockchain can help better secure online transactions while bypassing the middleman. While blockchain grew in popularity with the rise of the digital currency Bitcoin, the technology is applicable to host of other industries, including telecommunications.

The recent IBM report consisted of nearly 3,000 global executives from 20 industries, including 174 from CSP organizations. Among the CSP executives surveyed, approximately 36% said they were already considering or actively engaged with blockchains. While blockchain is still a budding technology, several CSP executives expressed confidence in its potential for their organization, said the authors of the report.

The report also found blockchain technology could help address hurdles associated with business operations. Approximately 76% of CSPs exploring or actively engaged with blockchain said security was an important reason to invest in the technology, with 46% viewing it as an opportunity to cultivate new business models. Another 35% of these CSPs saw blockchain as a viable way to respond to shifting profit pools.

Additionally, CSPs said they expected blockchain technology to have the biggest impact in three areas: streamlining internal processes, providing services built by CSPs on blockchain and collaborating in business ecosystems, including the internet of things (IoT). With respect to streamlining internal processes, blockchain could be applied for internal efficiencies within the CSP, including interacting with suppliers and other CSPs. In regards to providing services built by CSPs on blockchain, the technology could provide services for customers, which are delivered and controlled by CSPs. Speaking on business collaboration, the report said blockchain could be leveraged to serve each ecosystem participant as a peer and trusted partner.

Moving forward, the authors of the report advised enterprises to spend time with a lead partner in blockchain, review where the technology currently stands, and invest in ideation on potential opportunities in both the revenue growth/platform business area and internal efficiencies.

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