IBM launches industry platforms, blockchain unit and swaps global business services execs

Bridget van Kralingen will lead the new unit, which will aim to bring blockchain to the enterprise and financial services industry.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM is launching a new business unit focused on blockchain technology and other emerging areas and putting its global business services chief, Bridget van Kralingen, in charge.


Bridget van Kralingen

The unit, dubbed Industry Platforms, will initially emphasize Watson Financial Services, blockchain technology and strategic partnerships.

Van Kralingen, senior vice president for IBM Global Business Services, will run the unit and report to CEO Ginny Rometty. IBM has been pushing blockchain technologies and working to make it more open to enterprises.

A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of transactions and share it in a distributed network. Blockchain became popular with the rise of bitcoin digital currency.

As for the global business services unit, former Accenture exec Mark Foster will take over. IBM has hired a bevy of new executives to run the Internet of things, Watson and Watson Healthcare units.

Van Kralingen joined IBM in 2014 as a managing partner for the financial services sector. IBM has been investing heavily in blockchain research and development. IBM said van Kralingen will also oversee strategic partnerships with the likes of Apple, SAP, Workday and Box.

Also see: Is blockchain revolutionary, or just another infrastructure support technology? | Blockchain-as-a-service approved for use across UK government | IBM to open blockchain innovation centre in Singapore | Blockchain, unblocked: its implications for enterprise computing

In an employee memo, IBM said that the industry platforms business is designed to focus on "radically optimized processes and marketplaces that leverage Watson, IBM Cloud, IBM Systems, blockchain, deep domain expertise and ecosystems of partners and developers." Financial services is IBM's largest vertical and blockchain technology directly applies. IBM's plan is to broaden blockchain usage to other industries.

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