Feature Story

Blockchain companies on the rise, Cisco invests in the industry

by Stephanie Chan

Blockchain companies on the rise, Cisco invests in the industry

See why and how companies are engaging with this technology—from experimentation to adoption.

Blockchain, the technology that removes the need for trusted third parties, is taking the tech industry by storm. Blockchain acts as a distributed ledger that allows data to be stored across networks rather than in just one server.

CNBC reports that just last year, more than 26,000 new blockchain projects were created on GitHub. While GitHub—the software collaboration platform—welcomed in those over 20,000 projects, Deloitte has found that only 8% of those companies are still active.

Nevertheless, open-source projects like blockchain are still dominating Silicon Valley. San Francisco tops the list of cities with the most blockchain development projects at 1,380. The next are London, New York, and Beijing.

Companies are finding that blockchain technologies—the secure and decentralized nature of transaction recording— are making processes in industries like supply chain much more efficient.

Recently, Cisco's CHILL (Cisco Hyperinnovation Living Labs) created a 48-hour brainstorm on the idea of using blockchain to improve supply chain. Teams of Cisco employees, users, experts, and representatives from customers like GE, DB Schenker, Citi, and Intel joined together to create new and innovative ideas for incorporating blockchain into the supply chain.

This rapid prototyping exercise included pitching, concept-creation, and building. At the end of the lab, real prototypes were created and teams finalized a concept pitch to the wider group. CHILL is set on discovering the most industry-breaking ideas in the most novel areas.

Cisco's Head of Blockchain Anoop Nannra, from the Corporate Strategy Office, says that the company is showing leadership in the blockchain ecosystem in many ways. Cisco founded the Trusted IoT Alliance, along with Bosch, Bank of New York Mellon, Foxconn, Gemalto and several of the most innovative blockchain startups. The Alliance addresses large-scale industry challenges at the intersection of blockchain and the Internet of Things. Cisco has also joined several leading consortia including the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, and Hyperledger—non-profit collaborative efforts to advance blockchain technology.

Cisco is continually looking at new technology areas.

"With blockchain, this technology gives rise to entirely new markets," Nannra says. "As part of Cisco's innovation strategy, we have been closely monitoring blockchain. As blockchain technology is starting to mature, the industry is getting ready to move from proof of concepts to early deployment stage, and now the timing is right for Cisco to expand our involvement."

Read more about what the company is doing with blockchain here