Blockchain: 2Q21 insights from TBR’s Digital and Services teams

Transforming the economic engine one block at a time

Join Patrick Heffernan, Boz Hristov, Evan Woollacott and Geoff Woollacott for a webinar examining the state of adoption for blockchain as well as the impact on buyer’s digital transformation initiatives. The need for a community approach will require frenemies to collaborate but only if enabled by public-private frameworks. TBR will discuss blockchain-specific use cases through the lens of a multienterprise business network (MEBN) framework and unpack insights around the impact of blockchain on business models of technology and services vendors.

Don’t miss:

  • Key trends driving the evolution and adoption of blockchain, as well as the current state of the market
  • Use cases for blockchain through the lens of an MEBN framework
  • Overview of the ecosystem including implications to vendors’ business models and the role of blockchain as it relates to digital transformation  

Register today to reserve your space

EY Blockchain Asia: The revolution starts now

EY’s blockchain world

EY’s Asia-Pacific Blockchain Summit started with the firm’s Global Blockchain leader, Paul Brody, making three clear points. First, EY is committed to China and to the region, seeing huge potential for blockchain growth. Second, EY is committed to public blockchain as the long-term solution for most business and governments. Third, Brody’s concept of blockchain as the bridge between enterprises — as the tool to tackle the previously uncrossable chasm between different enterprises’ data and business processes — remains a driving force behind how EY sees the future of blockchain, in Asia and the rest of the world.

TBR’s December 2020 special report EY 2021: Hybrid and omnipresent discussed these latter two points: “Public blockchain, in Brody’s words, ‘will do for networks of enterprises and business ecosystems what ERP did for the single company.’ Brody added that conducting B2B [business-to-business] transactions over a public blockchain increases transparency and compliance with commercial terms.” The February event carried that discussion further, and specifically into Asia. 

EY and public blockchain in China  

Brody outlined a few major developments for EY in China, with all his comments reinforced by the subsequent panel speakers and EY professionals who provided additional color, both for the China-specific elements and developments impacting the entire region. In short:

  • EY has formerly joined the Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium (FISCO) and made the firm’s EY OpsChain solution available on the FISCO BCOS (Be Credible, Open & Secure) platform.
  • EY intends to deploy its entire Ethereum suite of solutions to users in China.
  • EY has fully localized its blockchain entrée — — for the Chinese market.

In addition, Brody touched on the opportunity blockchain presents in Asia, highlighting China and the Chinese market’s emphasis on digital payments as a precursor to blockchain adoption as well as a robust startup scene. He also highlighted three sectors where EY has been “making exceptionally large” investments: financial services, supply chain and the public sector, which underscored one of Brody’s main points around the importance of public blockchain as the core, foundational building block. He noted that “money and stuff are tokens … contracts are a mix of legal agreements and business processes,” so all business could be conducted on the public blockchain, which is EY’s focus on enterprise solutions. 

On Feb. 2, EY hosted an Asia-Pacific Blockchain Summit, a virtual event run by the EY Blockchain practice based in Singapore that included EY professionals and clients, startup executives, and industry experts who are primarily, but not exclusively, based in Asia. The three-hour event included a keynote from EY Global Blockchain Leader Paul Brody, a blockchain solution demonstration, and panel discussions covering the technology, including the challenges and opportunities associated with blockchain and the broader emerging technology space. The following is TBR’s commentary on noteworthy announcements and participants’ assertions made during the event as well as EY’s overall blockchain strategy.

KPMG: Fundamentally what blockchain does is digitize trust

In late 2020, KPMG’s blockchain team outlined to TBR the efforts the firm has made to evolve its blockchain practice, expanding into concrete and discrete areas in which the firm can “create an ecosystem around something that already exists, then add a layer of trust, enabled by blockchain,” as made evident by the three focus areas detailed by the KPMG team: cryptoasset custody and analytics, climate accounting infrastructure, and energy trading reconciliation. KPMG explained that the firm’s digital transformation initiatives, which underpin the entire blockchain practice, remain anchored by data, identity and ecosystem — conveniently core elements of blockchain. 

Americas Blockchain and Digital Assets Leader Arun Ghosh went one step further, saying KPMG had intentionally moved away from “leading with blockchain” to building a message around digitalization and trust: “Blockchain is digitizing the infrastructure. Fundamentally what blockchain does is digitize trust.” In TBR’s view, this business-problem-first, technology-second approach mirrors what consulting clients say they want and plays to KPMG’s strengths.

Measuring environmental commitments: Climate Accounting Infrastructure

Businesses face challenges in proving to clients, stakeholders and regulators that their efforts to address climate change have a measurable impact on the environment and meet enterprisewide goals. Stepping up to address that challenge, KPMG saw an opportunity to deploy blockchain solutions as part of a Climate Accounting Infrastructure (CAI) offering. In essence, verifiable emissions data depends on trust, which can best be built and sustained through a combination of tools, including blockchain solutions, AI, enhanced IoT sensors and cloud.

For KPMG, the journey to a blockchain-enabled climate accountability offering started with a client in the financial services sector that was seeking help to meet its sustainability goals. Operating across multiple regions, with overlapping and sometimes conflicting standards and regulations, the client wanted to invest smartly, prove value to its shareholders, and build trust with customers and regulators, all while fully understanding the costs and potential impacts, both positive and negative. Once KPMG devised a blockchain-enabled approach — which KPMG says provides “near real-time climate accounting and reporting to help clients meet their climate goals” — the firm narrowed its focus down to two core industries: real estate and oil & gas.

As Ghosh explained to TBR, these industries face increasing compliance pressures, as well as structural challenges to meeting environmental standards, making them excellent initial target clients. The specific blockchain component, according to KPMG, comes through securing the massive amounts of structured and unstructured data in a way that can be verified but not altered, leading to greater trust and transparency for all parties.

In a Dec. 29, 2020, article, The New York Times detailed the pressures facing the real estate industry in New York City, starting with the sheer volume of carbon emissions coming from the city’s buildings (close to 70% of the city’s total emissions). According to the article, a 2019 law “requires owners of structures 25,000 square feet or larger to make often sizable cuts in carbon emissions starting in 2024 or pay substantial fines” and “affects 50,000 of the city’s roughly one million buildings, including a substantial number of residential buildings.” The city’s role as a global financial hub and KPMG’s heritage in accounting and financial services present a strong opportunity for the firm to begin building a use case for its CAI offering, particularly if the firm leverages its existing NYC-based client relationships to gain introductions to commercial real estate owners.

Last fall, TBR met with KPMG’s blockchain leadership team, including Americas Blockchain and Digital Assets Leader Arun Ghosh, and discussed changes the company’s blockchain practice has undergone since the October 2019 Blockchain Analyst Day. As TBR prepares in 2021 to add a blockchain-specific component to our Digital Transformation portfolio, examining in detail how IT services vendors and consultancies have been building blockchain practices, we will publish special reports describing specific vendor offerings and how those offerings and supporting capabilities fit within the larger blockchain ecosystem.

EY 2021: Hybrid and omnipresent

TBR perspective

A few years ago in a wide-ranging discussion, TBR analysts and EY executives considered the future consulting business model, noting how most industries had been fundamentally disrupted by technology while consulting had seemingly remained unchanged. Fast forward to the current pandemic, and EY clearly anticipated where consulting was headed: hybrid engagements, delivered in-person and virtually, substantially aided by technologies, including big bets EY made on AI, blockchain and cybersecurity. In addition, EY has understood a significant shift in the IT services and consulting ecosystem, in which technology vendors’ needs have been supplanted by clients’ needs, making partnerships less about sales and marketing and more about delivery.

During the opening session of the Technology Analyst Summit, Dan Higgins, the firm’s Global Technology Consulting Leader, said clearly and definitively EY intends to become “the transformation consulting leader,” an ambition that requires best-in-class and scaled capabilities around technology, data, platforms, products and ecosystems. In Higgins’ view, one of EY’s strengths in tackling that ambition came from being able to bring the entire firm to bear at a client, from all aspects of consulting, as well as tax and strategy & transactions. The September Technology Analyst Summit and the one-on-one discussions with EY executives in the following weeks confirmed TBR’s assessment that EY’s evolution continues, undeterred by COVID-19.

In an expansive and informal discussion with TBR after the event, EY’s Global Vice Chair for Consulting Errol Gardner said the firm’s performance in the Asia Pacific region has returned to close to 2019 levels, adjusting more rapidly to the COVID-19 era than other regions. He predicted massive opportunities to consult with the government sector in Europe in the coming year as well as sustained uncertainty in North America (specifically the United States), all while noting that the current market does not favor new entrants or substantial account turnover, with most clients unwilling to take on additional risks associated with onboarding new consultants.

Gardner’s comments extended his Technology Analyst Summit opening remarks and provided some assurance that the radically changed business model for consulting would not lead to a radically changed EY, except in certain areas, such as remote working, diversity and inclusion, and resilience. Gardner also reinforced one of the overarching themes TBR took away from the entire event: The future is hybrid, which includes not just delivery but also how EY structures itself and continues to build its business. Beyond recruiting talent, building solutions and acquiring assets, Gardner reiterated the firm would be relying on ecosystem partners and expanding beyond traditional alliance structures to meet clients’ evolving demands. In TBR’s view, this approach to ecosystems has developed over the last few years as the firm has shifted from selective and limited alliances to a more expansive partnering model.

In a follow-up discussion after the Technology Analyst Summit, EY’s Global Business Consulting Leader Amy Brachio described an evolution of clients’ consulting needs and how EY tackles those changes. According to Brachio, clients previously brought EY problems that required a specific skill set or clearly defined capabilities to solve. As emerging technologies have forced changes to clients’ business models, EY has responded to more complex and transformational problems by bringing to bear the entire firm.

Frictions within the global firm that previously prevented more holistic responses have been minimized through resetting how EY looks at clients’ problems and how EY measures its own success. Rather than focusing on global total engagement revenue by competency (such as supply chain), EY has shifted to evaluating performance based on the buyer’s agenda and understanding which skills and capabilities the entire firm needs to bring to solve more complex problems. In TBR’s view, shifting from a traditional mindset around revenue metrics based on competencies to a client-centric, holistic understanding of EY’s role within a client’s ecosystem reflects the firm’s overall culture around purpose.  

Sticking to strategies and building alliances around security, AI and blockchain

Ever-expanding alliances with key technology partners have underpinned EY’s technology evolution over the past few years. Building on comments made during the Technology Analyst Summit, Global Alliance and Ecosystem Leader Greg Sarafin explained to TBR that the firm’s alliance remained grounded in joint solutions, integrated platforms and shared clients, not joint ventures or business groups. In contrast to other leading consultancies and global SIs, EY’s approach to partnering with technology vendors, particularly companies such as SAP (NYSE: SAP), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), revolves around definitive opportunities centered on EY-built platforms and solutions. For example, the firm has partnered with IBM Watson to create Diligence Edge, a due diligence platform that, according to Sarafin, substantially reduces the hours needed to “find the worms and the pearls … [to] accelerate the time to find issues and accelerate the time to value” for clients examining acquisition targets. Sarafin added that EY will “lean in on solutions” and “solve big problems” with EY-built solutions and platforms.

While EY may deliver some of these products as managed services, the firm’s primary business model will continue to revolve around the consulting, process re-engineering, integration and change management work necessary for clients to continue with their digital transformations. On that last element, Sarafin noted that COVID-19 brought religion to boards about the importance of digital transformation, ending the indecisive start-and-stop nature of many engagements and convincing EY’s clients they need to move to the cloud. As part of EY’s story on digital transformation, Sarafin shared with TBR that EY’s wavespaces would continue to evolve, becoming more tightly aligned with technology partners, such as Microsoft, or more industry-centric, such as around manufacturing in a to-be-opened wavespace in Ohio. (Note: TBR has written extensively on wavespaces and on innovation and transformation centers generally.)

EY Virtual Technology Analyst Summit: On Sept. 28 and 29, EY hosted analysts for a global EY Virtual Technology Analyst Summit, which showcased the firm’s technology-centric offerings and capabilities and included breakout sessions on functional areas, such as blockchain, security and analytics, as well as client success stories. The following includes information gathered during the event and in subsequent one-on-one discussions with EY executives.  

With use cases built on public chains in production, attention turns to public and private sector interaction

Near-term market implications: What is next, rather than beyond

TBR believes the intersection of public policy and commerce is the next area where technologists will apply their energies within the blockchain realm. The core platform elements are in place with clearly articulated road maps for ongoing development work. At issue will be the policy regulations and compliance methods needed to ensure blockchain-enabled business activity can be seamlessly imported into legacy systems of record for financial reporting purposes.

Similarly, nation states and native-cloud platforms such as Facebook will vie to become the de facto economic exchange mechanism for blockchain transactions. Notably, Libra Association, the Facebook-created digital currency, recently named former U.S. Department of the Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey as its first CEO, indicating Facebook’s strategy for bridging the nation state-commercial entity divide. Taking a conservative posture to minimize security threat vectors to protect the value of the currency in question appears, on its face, to be the most prudent course of action. On the other hand, taking a more aggressive position that allows for deeper embedding into commerce chains and exposes the currency to more programmability — and consequently creates a greater surface area for malicious attacks — is a risk nation states and businesses will undertake to gain greater participation in the digital economy.

In the short term, then, the conservative posture is prudent. In the long term, however, such conservative viewpoints could result in shifting geopolitical power. The U.S. dollar, for example, has been the de facto foreign exchange clearing mechanism for decades. A conservative posture on the part of the U.S. Federal Reserve on digital currency opens the door for other entrants to displace the U.S. dollar as the international clearing mechanism and, in so doing, removes a valuable foreign policy tool from the U.S. diplomatic toolbox at a time when U.S. diplomacy is already severely challenged.

The fourth annual EY Global Blockchain Summit had a vastly different look and feel as the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the engagement to a virtual forum and turned the spotlight on the rapidly coalescing use cases that blockchain technology underpins. The core coterie of blockchain builders does not have to prove technical value through “use case show and tell” of how the technology works, but rather needs to discuss what the technology delivers in terms of business process improvement. However, technology companies do need to outline product road maps to ameliorate persistent concerns. More important, though, is the need for automated interaction, adjustment and compliance with business rules and the ever-evolving public policies designed to mitigate risk. It appears clear that as revolutionary as blockchain can be to business commerce by shifting the tracking of such activity from general ledgers to distributed ledgers, it can be equally transformative to nation states, depending on what form of currency exchange settles out as the de facto clearing mechanism for multi-enterprise blockchain business networks.

Ecosystems and trust: What KPMG brings to blockchain

‘It’s not about the enterprise anymore; it’s about the ecosystem’

Opening the event with KPMG’s view of innovation and technology, including specifics around blockchain, National Managing Partner for Innovation and Enterprise Solutions Fiona Grandi and Global Blockchain Leader Arun Ghosh emphasized that achieving meaningful blockchain adoption requires moving beyond the enterprise to the entire ecosystem. In these remarks, particularly when KPMG stressed its role as a network provider, a “trusted layer” across a platform and an ecosystem, TBR heard echoes of the “Business of One” framework and the gradual shift within the IT services, consulting and technology space toward more robust partnering — and clients that expect more from their vendors’ ecosystems. Trust, as repeatedly invoked by KPMG, echoes the firm’s DNA as one of the Big Four, a firm trusted with clients’ financials, systems and regulatory obligations. Neatly pulling these two ideas together — the increasing need to play across an ecosystem, and KPMG’s core value around trust — Ghosh said one key question the firm helps clients answer, when considering blockchain, is quite simply, “Can I create a trusted ecosystem?” If clients can answer that question, they are prepared to move beyond what Grande described as a nonstarter position around blockchain. “When [clients] say, ‘We want it on blockchain,’ they haven’t thought it through,” Grandi said. On a more concrete level, KPMG’s leaders stressed the firm’s role in helping clients move toward smart contracts, a core use case for blockchain’s distributed ledger technology. Smart contracts, as KPMG’s U.S. blockchain program lead, Tegan Keele, summed up nicely, do not automate processes; they remove manual tasks. To remove those manual tasks, businesses comprising the ecosystem have to reach a consensus on process diagrams to establish the governance flows for the blockchain.

One specific example from the day stood out to TBR. KPMG professionals described a large-scale operations consulting engagement, including “pain and trust point mapping,” that led to a blockchain-enabled solution providing farm-to-table provenance, starting with the government agency responsible for licensing the farms. We will explore below how a government-mandated blockchain could enhance societal goals around welfare and certification, but the key characterization of KPMG’s role came from Ghosh, who said the use case highlighted the firm’s overall goal for blockchain, which is to “create [a] common, real-time, trusted source of the truth to help solve industry’s most critical issues … create an ecosystem around something that already exists, then add a layer of trust, enabled by blockchain.”

‘Those who get it want to create their own ecosystem and control it’

Understanding how KPMG defines the core values of blockchain requires also understanding how clients and technology partners see the firm itself, including what KPMG brings to innovations, engagements and solutions. Throughout the event, KPMG ceded the stage to clients and technology partners, such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), that repeated a few key themes on what KPMG brings to blockchain. Most frequently, these speakers noted KPMG’s industry expertise, especially as related to specific business processes and industry-centric regulatory challenges. On this second point, one client stated that KPMG’s trusted brand and regulatory expertise were essential in the blockchain space “to drive institutional adoption.” Another client said KPMG brought a “holy trinity of expertise” around business processes, applicable technology and change management. (Note: In TBR’s view, change management remains a critical, if sometimes neglected, element of all emerging technology adoption and digital transformation. As multiple clients and consultancies have said, “The people, not the technology, are the problem.”) A technology partner said blockchain is a “team sport” and that “KPMG has deep process expertise in life sciences and supply chain,” two elements that had been critical to the partner’s joint engagement with a U.S. pharmaceutical giant. TBR also noted that multiple KPMG clients described the firm as a systems integrator (SI), fitting with KPMG’s approach to let the solution drive decisions around the technology stack, products and software.      

Blockchain makes more noise in 2H19: Hearing from services vendors and consultancies

Last month, my colleagues Geoff Woollacott and Boz Hristov published a report on the business of blockchain, and next month, Geoff and I will be attending a KPMG event on the same topic. We are looking forward to learning how that Big Four firm approaches both the technology and the business model impacts, on itself and its clients. Our May 2019 event perspective on EY’s blockchain summit may serve as a way to contrast and compare two of the Big Four; how they differentiate will be key as technology diminishes differentiation across consultancies’ digital transformation activities. And we want to hear more use cases, including what clients have done beyond experimenting and how they are getting to scale.

Earlier this month, we had a chance to get feedback on our blockchain analysis from Atos and from another client that said the following:

  • “TBR believes that blockchain is here to stay and transforming transactions through blockchain allows vendors to accelerate digital transformation.”
  • “The biggest challenge for participants is solving the coopetition paradox, which revolves around establishing common governance and standards across competitive and cross-industry ecosystems — and yet also presents a long-tail opportunity, especially as optimizing financial management functions and improving IT operations management rank as the top two areas where buyers are looking to prioritize spending in the next few years.”
  • “[TBR mentions] the materialization of a network of networks that will scale distributed ledger adoption as the de facto economic commerce platform. However, reaching broad blockchain network interconnectivity will take years, if not decades.”

I think our client summed up the analysis well and left open a few important questions. First, what can serve as accelerants for “broad blockchain network interconnectivity”? If clients clamor for more and faster, which actors taking what steps will speed this up? Second, how will partnerships between consultancies and blockchain technology vendors evolve, in commercial, go-to-market and even intellectual property terms? Third, if and/or when this becomes the de facto economic commerce platform, who will be disrupted and who will capitalize on the shift to this platform?

All this and more will be on our minds next week in New York City — event perspective to follow!

Family and friends: PwC makes Analyst Day in India all about the clients and their stories

8 clients with 8 stories and plenty of common themes

Setting the tone for the day, India Advisory Leader, Deepankar Sanwalka explained that the event would be about discussion and about clients and the work PwC is doing with them, with four successive breakout sessions in the morning and four more in the afternoon. The clients — almost all India-based companies or government agencies — spanned the industry spectrum from pharmaceutical to software to manufacturing to municipal authorities. In addition to the common themes that emerged across the day, described below, TBR noted that every client had prepared for the standard analyst question, “Why did you choose PwC?” Notably, half of the clients used a competitive process to select PwC as a vendor, a high percentage in TBR’s experience. Clients said they worked with PwC because the firm:

  • Shared the client’s cultural value for trust and commitment to strict adherence to compliance, even across global operations
  • Understood the client’s customer. Beyond understanding clients’ business, operations and industry, along with the specifics of the India market, one client said PwC demonstrated a deep understanding of the client’s specific target audience and the personas shopping for this client’s specific product. As part of the engagement, and an element the client said was critical to its success, PwC colocated with the client a core team made up of more than 60% strategy, design and marketing consultants, with the remaining professionals handling technology.
  • Possessed “skills, scale and speed.” While other clients cited the first two as PwC strengths, this client explained that “speed” referred to PwC’s ability to keep pace with the client’s accustomed pace of innovation, experimentation, adoption and change.
  • Understood the client’s business with such depth and clarity that PwC could recommend what SAP customizations the client did not need. In TBR’s experience, every consultancy professes to know its clients well. In this case, the client explicitly understood that the long-term benefits from a massive SAP upgrade depended on minimal customizations in order to facilitate easier maintenance and upgrades. Surprisingly, the client went further in saying PwC was able to force the issue around standardizations by making compelling arguments that the client’s needs did not justify the diminished long-term value of customizations — compelling because PwC so fully understood the client’s business.

Also notable was the very presence of eight clients telling their stories — impressive for a one-day analyst event. TBR observed many of the clients attended breakout sessions with other clients, likely providing the firm with further opportunities to increase its footprint. Finally, the clients all told compelling stories, perhaps because the event was adamantly free of PowerPoint presentations (zero slides in 8 hours). Without slides as a crutch, clients (and PwC professionals and analysts) more easily adapted to the friends-and-family feel of the entire event.

With an atmosphere designed for relaxing and sharing stories, PwC’s Analyst Day in India captured the firm’s current position as a global consultancy with intense local client relationships, a well-defined set of offerings across the entire digital transformation landscape, and a solid, sustained, evolutionary framework in BXT (Business-eXperience-Technology). PwC gathered roughly 30 analysts, from Europe, Asia, India, and one from the U.S., for a dinner and then a day of client stories, PwC briefings and informal discussions in the firm’s Gurgaon Experience Center (EC), which was configured for the event to resemble a house, complete with a living room, dining room, garden, play room and kitchen (plus a library, but how many houses today have libraries?). The playful design of this ‘house’ idea was more than just design alone, with a real emphasis on PwC inviting clients and analysts in for the day to discuss, exchange and spend time together, much as one would do at home with friends and family. Over the course of the day, TBR met with PwC clients from across India and with the firm’s global leaders for Clients and Markets and Technology Consulting, as well as PwC partners and professionals responsible for client accounts in India, Japan and the Middle East.

Trusted facilitator: Atos discusses its place in the blockchain ecosystem

Atos’ global lead for blockchain, Klaus Ottradovetz, confirmed TBR’s assessment that as many companies move beyond evaluation and proof of concept to implementation of blockchain solutions, the broader IT ecosystem will see the benefits and acceleration of a networking effect. If IoT marries analytics to connectivity, blockchain binds transactional partners in an ever-increasing series of interwoven networks. Within those blockchain ecosystems, collaborative models with multiple stakeholders sharing costs and benefits provide the backbone for new value-generating services based on the advantages delivered by blockchain. To illustrate his point, Ottradovetz described a crop insurance solution (which recently won the Technology Excellence in Blockchain award at NASSCOM) as an ideal use case for blockchain, in which the various stakeholders, including insurers, reinsurers, farmers and content providers would all benefit. The solution uses smart contract functionality and mobile payment to create a cost-effective and fully automated claim settlement process, which also strengthens the trust between the two entities. Insurance companies can use the application to collate weather data through satellites and measure weather conditions (e.g., rainfall, drought), which are then used to compensate farmers for crop losses.

Atos adds value to blockchains by working with all stakeholders   

Ottradovetz noted, and TBR agrees, that our report did not include many details on Atos’ blockchain practice, which resides with the Business and Platform Solutions division and leads industry-specialized go-to-market activities and service delivery around consulting, integrating and operating blockchains. Atos taps into the Infrastructure and Data Management division for hosting and running nodes in blockchain networks and also integrates offerings from its Big Data and Cybersecurity division, such as cybersecurity services and IP-based products like the Evidian Identity and Access Management software suite and the Trustway Hardware Security Module. Ottradovetz said Atos has focused on working with its existing clients, including in the government sector, and that Atos acts as a “services provider” and is “not in a position of taking value from others within the blockchain ecosystem, not taking value out of the product chain.” In a characterization that TBR believes accurately describes Atos’ market position, Ottradovetz said the company serves as a “trusted” functionary, “the independent advisor to each stakeholder…we help [clients] build a cooperative blockchain.”

Blockchain in the context of digital transformation: A slow-moving, inevitable revolution

In fast-approaching fourth industrial revolution, bureaucratic labor will become as nonessential as manual labor became to the agrarian economy with the advent of the combustion engine. Blockchain technology will enable smart contracts throughout our economy and will be the red thread stitching together multi-enterprise business networks for frictionless commerce that will greatly reduce demand for bureaucratic labor. As one management consulting partner put it, “If you are not at the point of consumption or at the point of creation, then your job will disappear.”

In TBR’s latest Digital Transformation Insights Report: Emerging Technology, Senior Analyst Boz Hristov and Principal Analyst Geoff Woollacott describe in detail how blockchain technology sits firmly in the hype phase today and, in little more than a decade, has reasonably distinguished itself from cryptocurrency even as blockchain underpins that digital reality. Solving the coopetition paradox, revolving around establishing common governance and standards across competitive and cross-industry ecosystems, is the biggest challenge, yet offers the long-tail opportunity for vendors.

Additional assessments publishing this week from our analyst teams

IBM Services remains challenged by its internal portfolio and resource transformation, such as in traditional infrastructure management and technology support, and reported a fourth consecutive quarter of revenue decline in 2Q19. Pockets of revenue growth in constant currency in business and technology transformation areas, such as consulting, application management and cloud, indicate IBM Services’ portfolio transformation to higher-value services is working. While profitability will remain IBM Services’ core priority in 2H19, the company’s work with clients around advising, moving, building and managing next-generation technology solutions will continue to increase and begin to offset revenue growth pressures in 2H19. — Elitsa Bakalova, Senior Analyst

TBR’s IBM report highlights some of the recent developments in IBM’s Systems Hardware portfolio as the market awaits the newest refresh of IBM Z, which is likely to be announced at the end of 2019 and become generally available at the start of 2020. Hardware-centric investment trends are also highlighted, for both IBM’s traditions Systems Hardware portfolio and its investments in quantum computing. TBR’s financial projections in this particular iteration of the report include how TBR anticipates the Red Hat acquisition will impact corporate numbers. — Stephanie Long, Analyst

Lackluster performance in traditional IT and telecommunications continues to weigh down T-Systems’ revenue, but cloud-based services will help revenue rebound in 2Q19. Strengthening its partner network improves T-Systems’ innovation as well as drives adoption of its cloud and IoT capabilities. For example, its recent partnership with Software AG allows T-Systems to underpin its Cloud Internet of Things platform with the Cumulocity IoT platform, expanding its delivery scale in Europe and North America.
Kelly Lesiczka, Analyst

HCL Technologies (HCLT) emphasizes its engineering and R&D core services to support foundational revenues as the company balances acquisition integration with portfolio management. With the completion of its acquisition of IBM Software assets at the beginning of July, HCLT launched HCL Software, which we expect will help the firm deliver software and product solutions that bridge HCLT’s legacy services with its Mode 2 and Mode 3 emerging technologies and services, particularly for cloud, digital and analytics, and security. — Kelly Lesiczka

In our upcoming DXC Technology Initial Response, TBR will look at whether DXC has been able to overcome recent pressures stemming from completion of several large contracts without replacement and ongoing headwinds in legacy applications work. — Kevin Collupy, Analyst

Additionally, check out our recent insights into IoT and KPMG, available in our Special Reports section.