Oracle Blockchain-With a tempering of blockchain fanfare as the technology crested the peak of the hype cycle, Oracle’s two-year-old foray into the blockchain domain may have gone largely unnoticed. Especially as it might have been dismissed as a copy cat or catch up move, as yet another large technology firm converted to the blockchain gospel like Microsoft and IBM before it. Oracle’s move, however, comes with a very different asset base, for which it is starting to realize gains from its blockchain offering. If the wellspring of all digital transformation is an enterprise’s data lake and how it connects across markets and stakeholders, then Oracle, the world’s largest database provider with number one positions in virtually every industry, has not only built these reservoirs, its software and more than 137,000 employees serve as the access channels to the insights, markets and opportunities it holds. For this alone, Oracle may be the firm to watch and even the firm to beat as the enterprise blockchain wars heat up.
From speaking to senior leaders at Oracle, the firm knows that this broad cross-industry integration is the source of its advantage vis-à-vis its peers. How it has positioned its blockchain bet comes with a keen awareness that this next wave of technology innovation is not about discrete yet disconnected pilot projects in single industry silos. Rather, the future for enterprise blockchain efforts, especially in mature sectors, lies in making high-trust, low-friction connections between trading counterparties, wherein blockchain becomes not only the ledger of reference, it becomes a source for entirely new operating models. Even JP Morgan’s about face on cryptocurrencies with the launch of the JPM Coin, has much less to do with a free-floating speculative digital asset and more to do with counterparty trading and settlement efficiencies in the bank and with the bank’s external stakeholders.
This move, much like the sectors where Oracle is seeing traction, such as retail, supply chain management, money transfer, among others, is a drive to increase speed, track and trace capabilities and, critically, accelerate financial settlements between counterparties – a process that without blockchain losses billions each year to insidious sources of friction, such as one-sided bookkeeping, asymmetrical information, and financial amnesia of the deliberate and accidental variety. Because of this long-standing source of friction, all facets of the global economy and how large firms trade with each other is a highly audited, costly and untrusting operating environment. Overcoming this burden of proof leads to low levels of customer satisfaction, slow processing times and ultimately high costs of evidencing rightful claims.