Blockchain – enabling true digital transformation

Blockchain will significantly change how we hold and transmit items of value. The business process can finally be designed from the ground up as a digital process – truly transformed. The record of choice for the last 100+ years has been paper. Even when you scan a record, if the paper exist, it is the legal record.

We have birth and death certificates, laws, deeds, bank statements and even money (bills) on paper. The problem is we are becoming a digital society and paper is hugely inefficient. In addition, the processes for handling paper have stayed in place even with digital systems and are highly error prone. How likely is it that an error occurs upon copying or reading a document. Blockchain offers the opportunity for  processes to become 100% digital, secure, and low friction from birth to destruction.

The simplest definition of a blockchain is a digital ledger that is not terribly different from an old fashioned paper accounting ledger. A well implemented blockchain has 3+1 key characteristics. It is immutable meaning once a transaction is entered, it can’t be removed or altered. It is sequential in that each transaction is tied to the one before it and after it. It has consensus based peer nodes that can be distributed. I’ll add a fourth for a “well implemented” blockchain, that it has inherent security with multiple levels and is highly resistant to attack.

A blockchain is not Bitcoin or any single crypto-currency. Crypto-currencies like Bitcoin do run on blockchain technology. The data entered in the ledger for crypto-currency are financial transactions representing value. What fascinates me, and is the subject of this blog, is what else can you do with a Blockchain.


In 3 recent experiences with obtaining a mortgages, I’ve had a 10%, 50%, and 90% paper based process. I’ll exclude the closing process which is still done on paper thanks to the government being nearly 100% paper based.

Bank 1 was 90% paper based. Everything went to the branch office as paper which they put in a box and shipped to the home office where it was processesed. Only the communication via e-mail was electronic.

Bank 2 was about 50% paper based. They allowed us to submit our documents via an upload, most documents were e-signed, and a few that presumably the government required wet-ink signed, we’d print, sign, and then upload them.

Bank 3, actually a mortgage service, never gave us a piece of paper, but I’d argue it was still only 90% digital. Someone was still transcribing from the uploaded images into the lender’s databases. Even if all of the paper was eliminated, Bank 3 still was working workflow designed for paper. It took limited advantage of the fact that everything was now digitized.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 10.50.35 PM

Blockchain will change the above mortgage process. There will be no transcription and therefore less chances of error. Hypothetically, you’ll upload your information from a digital store on blockchain of IDs which will include multiple biometric authentication methods to confirm it’s really you. You’ll permission your lender to do research on your credit worthiness in various financial blockchains. It may even eliminate the need for the credit scores and credit bureaus as credit data can be gathered directly and relatively quickly (more on that later). At the same time, they will review your deed and other documents with the government making sure you are lien free.

All of the approvals, audits, and additional documents will be kept in the lending agency’s blockchain, but can link with permissions to other blockchain’s or simply make copies with reference to the source. Finally, your signatures will cause the down payment to be transferred along with the signatures of everyone involved from the bank, regulators, attorneys, auditors, county and state tax authorities, county court records, insurance agencies, buyers, and sellers. In theory, from discussion of the mortgage to the completion of the mortgage a day or few day process.

The biggest issue with blockchains, besides they are new and we are just starting to build applications for them, is that they are slow in terms of computer transactions. The slowness is mostly due to the consensus element. For all the nodes (computers) to agree it is valid entry, it can take up to a few minutes. While this is huge leap forward in terms of recording a legal records which can now take weeks or months, it far is too slow for sub-second transactions like purchasing on the internet or recording an entry at help desk. So for now, it is best applied to large block type transactions of higher value which fit the characteristics of blockchains.

Here are a few areas where blockchains are a natural:

  • Medical records (individual, hospital, doctor, etc.)
  • Government documents (deeds, judgments, laws, titles, licenses, etc.)
  • Financial documents (bank ledgers, investments, statements, etc.)
  • Supply Chains (farm to fork, inspections, transportation, etc.)

Where else might blockchains fit? What other technologies like AI might be integrated?

If you like to learn more about how you can build on the blockchain, IBM provides FREE tutorials on the Hyperledger, an open sourced blockchain.



Saving $1.8T but at what cost? and do we have a choice?

We continue to automate and improve business systems. I’ve spent my whole career improving business efficiency. Each time we do so, we mostly disrupt lower level service jobs and now some medium level professional jobs. We do this because making a business more efficient, effective, and cost competitive keeps that business ahead of its competition.

The recent article by CIO Insight “How Repetitive Tasks Waste $1.8 Trillion” made me consider the consequences, both bad and good. That $1.8 Trillion amounts to a lot of people’s jobs. The downside is elimination will be the elimination of jobs. I once recall discussing how we were going to put in telephonic automation for the service desk when someone said “you know, we just fired 300+ people.” We observed about 30 seconds of silence, swallowed hard, and then finished our task of designing the solution. It was going to happen regardless as most of their competitors had already eliminated large human level 1 service desks. Now we are observing the impact of readily available cloud wiping out many small and medium data center and application support people’s jobs. I’m certainly not against cloud solutions. IoT, Mobile, and SaaS solutions all stem from basic cloud capability and are creating NEW job markets and careers.

Jobs are both a way wage along with an identity for most of us, so I take it personally and seriously. I’ve done both the laying off of people and been laid off. Neither is fun. After I had to lay off my staff, I was physically ill and just thinking about it gives me the chills. I was able to get the best of them lined up with new job opportunities. No one wants to be told they are no longer needed and can be discarded.

To the positive, people can be moved to new jobs. The best companies work with their people to find them jobs that can help the company grow. As individuals, we all need to be on the look out for the possibility we’ll be disrupted by new technologies. There is no job that is immune entirely. Hands on trades people are probably the least susceptible, but even they must learn new skills constantly to stay employed. If you are in job that can be digitized, you need to start planning how to adapt. Your job will be under threat inevitably.

Companies are not social employment agencies and I don’t advocate socialism. I think it is in their best interest to be part of the community, since ultimately it is the community who consumes from them and makes them successful. Companies in capitalistic market that must out compete each other and to do so must make money for the owners / stockholders. In addition, if a company does not continue to move forward ahead of its competition, it will fail and NO ONE will be working for that company.

In the end, the march of improvement and technology is inevitable part of human history. Stopping progress is neither possible or wise. We can and should think about how to do it humanely by recognizing the impact and helping those impacted find ways to be productive members of society. We can use it wisely to improve our conditions as a planet and as human beings.


Wish I was going to Sapphire 2016

Since 2005, SAP Sapphire meant panicking for 6+ weeks of April and half of May. Since I’m no longer in the IBM SAP Practice Global CTO, I won’t be there. I’m still deeply involved and interested in IBM‘s efforts in the SAP world. It impacts most of my clients and I spend a lot of time on the interfacing of SAP software to many of IBM’s latest capabilities like Bluemix and Watson and most recently in developing an FDA compliant cloud for SAP. SAP is still on my mind, still important, and I wish I could go to Sapphire to see my friends who have become like family over the decade.

The focus is on Digital Transformation for all IBM’s SAP Practice. It aligns perfectly with IBM’s focus on Cloud, Cognitive, and Industries. Take some of your valuable time to speak with the IBM experts in booth #104 to understand how the unique partnership between IBM and SAP on Digital Transformation can benefit you and your company.

You can go beyond just discussing Digital Transformation, you can touch it. You can touch it in the IBM Booth #104. Gagan Reen, who leads the LSS, and his team will be launching Digital Transformation Cognitive Solutions as part of the IBM and SAP Digital Transformation initiative.

Please let me know how Sapphire goes this year. What is new? What is pure hype and what is real? Have a great show and I will remain calm all of May, but I will miss of you, my extended work family, at Sapphire.


Why I believe IBM will succeed

I believe IBM will succeed even in this next era of rapid innovation. There is no doubt IBM is founded on innovation. Whether you measure it by 23 years of leading in number of patents or by sheer number of innovations found in its history (DRAM, Hard drives, Tabulation Machines, System 360, major innovation around relational datbases, etc.), IBM is innovative.

I think the question is not “can IBM innovate”, but can IBM innovate with enough speed and follow through. It is tough for any large company to move fast with heirarchies, communities, and sheer mass. It can be done.

One key is having a clear vision. IBM’s vision is Cloud, Cognitive, and Industries. Cloud in all it’s forms including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Recent announcements like putting IBM Box, IBM’s cloud for file sharing, on Amazon shows a willingness to follow requirements of the market. Clients are saying no one cloud solution, even IBM’s cloud, is enough. Speed and diversity are as important as cost, or more.

Cognitive is the peak of IBM’s data strategy. Beneath is everything from ETL to IoT to cloud based integration. Getting to Watson is rarely a first step for most clients. Rather we find we need to do a lot of data hygene just to be ready for standard analytics. Eventually, they do get to Watson and Cognitive services. It is a journey.

I really find Watson on Bluemix especially interesting. IBM is offering access in nibble size chunks access to Watson via standard APIs. It is an amazing shift to see IBM offering the power of its flagship product for pennies. It is a new model for IBM. IBM has always ruled in the realm of big projects with high margins. To take on the tiny, an API at a time and a penney at a time, is huge change in business model for IBM. You can check out the services, via RESTfull API’s, on the developer cloud and for modest use it is even FREE

Under the banner of Cognitive is IoT. The ability to interact and understand our world via the digital world seems like a SciFi dream. The possibilities are endless. We see capabilities like controling our environment just by thinking about it. I love the story about the IBMer who is using his mind to control a Sphero toy. I confess, I want one.  or Youtube (~3 mins).

Industries runs through everthing at IBM. IBM’s entire organization is organized by Sector (Industrial, Distribution, Financial, etc.) and below that into Industries. Every go to market effort is passed through an industry focus and a lot of the investment in new ideas is based on the question of “what does this industry require.” You can even filter our Institute for Business Value by Industries to find unique value for your business. Watson even has its own Watson Healthcare division – another focus on an industry.

In the fast moving world of IT innovation, being innovative last year is not going to save you; however, IBM has a long history of remaining an innovation leader. We working to see how we can leverage all IBMers’ great minds.  I’m optomistic as we are now working on innovations for rapid innovation at cloud speed and beyond. Cloud, Cognitive, and Industries is great springboard into our future.


How the Inernet-of-Things (IoT) is consuming me!

I just made an important recognition that I am node connected to the Internet-of-Things (IoT) via my life modem (a.k.a. smartphone). It serves as modem from my analog life to my digital representation and out onto the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Most of recognize that our smartphone records our life in a digital format. In essence it is a modem. Modem is short for MODulate / DE-Modulate which is process of converting an analog signal to a digital one and back. Our phone takes our analog world we perceive with our senses and puts it and more into a digital representation on our smartphone. I may want the info off the IoT, but it needs me.

Great article and image of the IoT from Forbes.

While I used to love to spend time getting to know someone by pouring over someone’s albums (yes, large vinyl disk), tapes, DVD’s, or CD’s, now all I really need to see is there smartphone. Here are some things I might find out just scanning the smartphone.

  •  All your contact information and maybe some of your affiliations based on apps installed
  • Your communications, duration, and frequency with via SMS, e-mail, and voice
  • Your communications, duration, and frequency with apps (snapchat, twitter, etc.)
  • Your locations throughout the days and weeks in the past (GPS)
  • Your plans for the next day, week, month and even year (calendar)
  • What travel services you frequent even w/out opening up the apps (travel apps)
  • Who your friends and acquaintances are and their personal information (every social app and website, communication logs)
  • What you like and dislike in the public space
  • What time you go to bed and get up (alarms, clocks, accelerometer)
  • What music, video, and games you like
  • What publications, blogs and websites you frequent
  • And even more…

All this information is poured up onto IoT plus you enhance it with social data. A few examples are I use Weather Underground for weather and confirm my weather experience up to every 15 minutes. I drive around with Waze or MotionX GPS consuming, entering, and confirming incidents, traffic, traffic cameras, and police cars. In each of these cases, what is the sensor – ME! I spy a traffic accident. I feel cold. I see a fire. I like a song. Have you noticed NetFlix gets quoted on the stats it keeps on us and our viewing which could be via mobile. Other mobile apps have become the authority and regularly report out our behavior, too. We, via our smartphones have become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, source of data for the IoT.

Why does it matter? While I had come to recognize I could get typical sensor data from the IoT like temperature, humidity, amount of fuel, etc on my smartphone, I had not realized how much it was two way street. I was consuming IoT data, but the IoT also consuming me as it needed a human touch and senses and my mobile device is the interface and translator into the digital world. It may explain why IoT’s rise of prevalence seems correlated to mobile devices although the technologies are analogous. It also makes me think different about relationship humans will have with the IoT and why it may become pivotal in our next chapter of technology advancement. Maybe he who controls the IoT might control more than just “things” since we are all jacked in via our smartphones.

Even if I haven’t convinced you are a node on the IoT and that it is important concept, I hope you’ve decided to increase the security of smartphone with a longer, more secure password given that it is digitally you.

I do think our next chapter of technology advancement will be socially even more disruptive, but that will be in my next blog.

Headed to Las Vegas for SAP D-Code (aka TechEd)

Headed to SAP D-Code&&TechEd.
Headed to SAP D-Code&&TechEd.

On the flight to Las Vegas for SAP D-Code (aka TechEd). One of the first years, I’m not presenting, but IBM has a wealth of content in our booth and being presented. Be sure to check out Scott Geddes on the Apple + IBM relationship and how it will help build the Individual Enterprise. I’m in the IBM both all week, too, so come by and say HI!

We’ll be talking a lot about the exciting announcements for SAP to sell their applications on IBM’s Cloud. If you’re not clear on how it works for your organization, we’ll have lots of people who can help guide you at the booth. Mike Ryan is giving 2 sessions on moving to IBM cloud, too.

From SAP, I hope they have a few major Suite on HANA references. I’m looking for $5B and up companies who’ve made the migration, not just a division. I’m hoping to gather more details on their own SaaS strategy especially on Business-by-Design. I know Wall Street was disappointed with earnings from SAP, but I take it as a positive sign their rate of transition to cloud. We all know that is our future, but I don’t even think that the most aggressive analyst see how soon that future will arrive.

Please do check out the IBM sessions and at least come by and say hello, discuss SAP, IBM, or any technology topic. Have a great show and learn big!



Thursday, October 23, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Session ID MOB105: – Bellini 2105 Level 2

Title: Apple + IBM: Evolving to the SAP Enabled Individual Enterprise

Speaker:  Scott Geddes

Description:  What’s next, now that you’ve done your first waves of transformation with SAP? How do you empower end users in ways never possible before and unleash the power of our SAP implementation?  In this session we will explore how Apple + IBM are working together to change the way people work and create new, never before seen capabilities.


Thursday, October 23

12:00pm – 1:00pm  Lounge #3

Apple + IBM: Evolving to the SAP Enabled Individual Enterprise (IBM and Apple alliance discussion cont’d)

Scott Geddes, IBM SAP Global Business Services – Mobility

Chuck Kichler, IBM SAP iCoC CTO
Tuesday, October 21, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Session ID: DMM137

Title:  IBM’s Recommended Approach for Optimizing Different Kinds of SAP Workloads

Speaker: Guersad Kuecuek

Description:  Today, customers face various requirements to effectively deal with different kinds of workloads. Key aspects are high Service Level Agreements while maintaining optimal performance for analytical (OLAP) and transactional (OLTP) workloads. Find out how customers like Audi, Balluff, and Coca-Cola have mastered these challenging requirements.


Tuesday, October 21, 3:15 PM – 4:15 PM

Session ID:  DMM142

Title:   SAP HANA on IBM Power – Value, Performance and Experience

Speaker:  Alfred Freudenberger

Description:  With the announcement of the testing and evaluation program for SAP HANA on IBM Power Systems at SAPPHIRE NOW in 2014, a new option for SAP HANA deployments will soon be available. Why should SAP clients consider this option? For which environments is it well-suited? What have IBM and SAP learned during development, testing, and evaluation?


Wednesday, October 22

11:30am – 12:00pm  Lounge #4

SAP HANA on IBM Power – Value, Performance and Experience

Alfred Freudenberger, IBM Leader NA SAP on Power


Tuesday, October 21, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM


Session ID: DMM145
Title:  Simplify IBM Database Performance Tuning with the DBA Cockpit

Speaker:  Thomas Rech

Description:  In today’s IT world, it is crucial to maintain high SAP system performance to meet demanding Service Level Agreements. The DBA Cockpit for IBM DB2 Linux, Unix, and Windows is an easy, fully integrated solution for database monitoring and administration with SAP. Learn about the design concept, the capabilities, and discuss customer use cases.


Wednesday, October 22, 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM

Session ID ITM220

Title:  Business Continuity for SAP HANA-Based Applications – Shared Experiences

Speaker:  Irene Hopf

Description:  Learn about the options to keep business continuously running when you migrate SAP application landscapes to SAP HANA. High availability and disaster recovery are essential for business-critical applications. Discuss experiences with your peers and learn how other customers have implemented it.


Wednesday, October 22, 5:45 PM – 6:45 PM

Session ID INT206

Title:  Integrating Shop-Floor with Enterprise in Real-Time – SAP MII In Action

Speaker:  Dipankar Saha

Description:  How to integrate heterogeneous shop-floor systems with SAP ERP by SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII) using custom frameworks with various industry case-studies. This includes: manufacturing integration use cases, real-time integration using SAP MII, and architecture and case studies of integration using the frameworks.


Thursday, October 23, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Session ID UXP117

Title: Experience with Google Glass and Business Applications

Speaker:  Markus van Kempen

Description:  Google Glass presents a mobile form-factor which allows for new possibilities. This session discusses examples of user experiences, including the disconcerting experience of “wearing” a camera all the time, reactions from others, and navigation challenges. We show how to design for Google Glass and demonstrate business applications.


Thursday, October 23, 10:45 AM – 11:45 AM

Session ID ITM235

Title:  Establishing Architectural Patterns for SAP in the Cloud at CokeOne +

Speaker:  Michael Ryan

Description:  The CokeOne + migration to cloud for their non-production SAP environments included the establishment of architectural patterns to take advantage of the services provided by cloud computing. This session focuses on establishing the architectural patterns needed to transform businesses by moving business systems and processes to a cloud model.


Thursday, October 23, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Session ID DMM127

Title:  Streamline SAP HANA Solution with Near-Line Storage Solution by PBS and IBM

Speaker:  Elke Hartmann-Bakan

Description:  Streamline your SAP HANA solution by keeping only hot data in memory and moving warm data to near-line storage (NLS). This allows you to maintain a lean SAP HANA database and sustain high performance. The PBS and IBM NLS solution offers near real-time speed on NLS, ultra fast load time from the online database to the NLS, and extreme compression.


Thursday, October 23, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Session ID ITM123

Title: Planning Your Company’s SAP Systems Migration to the Cloud

Speaker:  Michael Ryan

Description:  The opportunity to move the SAP infrastructure to cloud is a game changer. Businesses are offered a level of speed and agility that has not been available in the past. However, moving to cloud does not solve basic issues that we experience in the IT world. We take a look at some of the key issues and think about the impact across enterprises.


Tuesday, October 21

2:30pm – 3:00pm  Lounge #4

SAP Applications on IBM Cloud – from self-service to fully managed

Keith Murray, Global Offerings Manager SAP on SoftLayer, IBM SmartCloud Services

Wolfgang Knobloch,  IBM GTS Global Offering Manager, SAP


SAP Sapphire 2014 – a look forward

This is my 13th Sapphire and I still get excited by them.  For me, it is old home week where I get to meet all the people I know, I’ve seen before, and sometimes those that I just get to read about.  Since I’m terrible at names and faces, it is a struggle for me, but it is worth the effort.  Even for the IBMers, I review the roster before I go to make sure I’ve seen the names.  If I can tie the person to idea or something we worked on, I can almost always remember them.

I look forward to walking all the solution booths and listening to the pitches from each company.  Some are great and inciteful.. Most are OK.  A few don’t have clue what an SAP system is or will be.  In that case, I just hope I got the wrong person.  I’m not a fan of the professional showperson booths, but some are entertaining.  I prefer to speak with the experts on the topic.

I’m not happy that some of my favorite vendors are not going to be at the show because SAP is limiting the application life cycle management (ALM) vendors at least according to the the exhibitor guide.  I’m rather disappointed when IntelliCorp (, Realtech (, and Panaya ( are not permitted to attend and put up booth.  I’ve seen 100’s of companies benefit from their tools.  If SAP wants to beat them with better tools – go for it.  I don’t like seeing software that benefits my clients being pushed out by marketing rules.

Specifically, for Panaya, I have a lot experience.  They are part of the IBM SAP and Oracle Upgrade methodology and we’ve added them for automated manual testing.  Specific to SAP, they are limited to ECC, but they do a great job and far better than Solution Manager. Now we are looking to work with them on Quality Management of SAP systems.  There use of cloud and collecting the “wisdom of the cloud” or crowd-sourcing knowledge is leading edge for the SAP world.  So why wouldn’t clients want to hear?  Clients are happy to benefit from previous clients’ works and even share if they think they’ll get something back of equal or greater merit.

Beyond that, there are lots of great stuff coming from SAP, IBM, and others.  If you want to hear a little more about IBM’s content, please follow my blog at IBM Insights on Business (  I should get at least one more out before the show and a few afterwards.

I’ll be spending MOST of my time around the IBM booth area.  Please do come by and ask for me, Chuck Kichler, by name.  I’d love to hear what you think about this blog, about SAP, and about IBM, to discuss your problems or ideas, or just to say hello.  Bring your business card, too.  I’ll want to write what we discussed on the back, so I can remember you, and maybe we can even do some business.

Chuck Kichler
Chuck Kichler

And, yes, I am almost up to taking pictures and using Evernote Hello (, but this seems a little too big brother for me at this point.  If you are using it, can you let me know how people react to the picture part?

See you at Sapphire NOW in Orlando on June 3 – 5, 2014.