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IBM backs blockchain solutions for developing Canadian cannabis industry

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Canada’s soon-to-be legalized cannabis industry could create as much as $22 billion in revenue, and now provincial governments are searching for tools to deal with the newly regulated commodity.

Tech industry leader IBM sees blockchain as an ideal way to ensure transparency in the new cannabis market and to address concerns with criminal activity or fraud. IBM has suggested that Canadian officials evaluate the advantages of using blockchain to control the supply and management for the growing cannabis market.

Blockchain brings cross-industry transparency

Blockchain is a shared digital ledger that records transactions, allowing for the transparent tracking of exchanges. IBM is promoting blockchain technology as a valuable tool for a wide range of business sectors, particularly regulated industries.

The technology company partnered with banking groups such as Bank of Montreal and UBS to create a trading platform based on blockchain technology, called Batavia. IBM is also pursuing the use of blockchain to improve food supply chain safety along with a group of leading food retailers.

The pharmaceutical industry is already witnessing the benefits of blockchain’s advanced digital ledger technology. According to Pharmaceutical Technology magazine, the industry can use the new technology to ensure security, and blockchain can aid with the secure transmission of sensitive patient data and clinical information.

Tracking cannabis from plant to store sale

IBM have passed on their proposal to the government of British Columbia, according to the website Smat2Zero. The proposal outlines how blockchain can be used to track the distribution of the drug, from cultivation to point of sale.

IBM suggests that blockchain will aid and offer visibility for sourcing, selling, and pricing of products. Moreover, certified producers will be able to track inventory and supply.

The technology company submitted their proposal in response to a request for public feedback issued by the Western Canadian province.

A new kind of network

Through the use of data analytics, producers will also be able to make meaningful demand projections and review consumption trends. Moreover, everyone within the network will be able to see all of the data; real-time data collection would further allow the cannabis products to be tracked and traced at any given time point.

IBM pointed out that, “This type of transparency would bring a new level of visibility and control to the provincial regulators.”

While the potential application of blockchain to cannabis production is headline grabbing, the news adds another layer to the growing applications of blockchain to pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

The exchange of data in healthcare happens in high frequency among stakeholders, across varying platforms and technologies, creating the risk of error and vulnerability to cyberattack. Blockchain could be the key to changing that high risk exchange for the better.

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Agriculture

Here’s the thing about how digital transformation will impact your business

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Digital skills
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Here’s the thing about digital transformation: Everyone knows it’s happening.

But it’s hard to know which new technology or innovation is going to be the one that upends your industry, opens up massive opportunity, threatens your company, or forever alters your role.

Today we’re introducing a new, custom-tailored service to help you figure that out. The service combines journalism, research and market analysis to help you and your team understand the state of digital transformation (DX) and explore the key developments that will impact your employees and industry.

We call this our “Here’s the thing about…” service. Teaming up with the DX Journal, we leverage journalists, analysts, researchers and strategists to help your company get a full picture of:

  • What is likely to impact your industry
  • Your team’s readiness to deal with it
  • An in-depth look at major developments you need to pay attention to

Here’s how it works:

This service is designed to give perspective on how digital transformation will impact your company. We present our findings in an easy-to-understand format breaking down trends for multiple departments and for every skill set with documented takeaways and action items.

We uncover and share those findings in a simple, two-step process:

Step 1: Research & interview process

  • Custom research on digital transformation trends impacting your industry, customers, and competitors.
  • One-on-one interviews with your company’s executives, department heads or managers, employees and/or customers.

Step 2: Research presentation

  • A presentation to your company in an internal keynote-style presentation to any size group — be it a small strategy team or an all-hands employee seminar.
  • Our team of researchers, journalists and analysts will share the research findings, key trends in your industry and provide an overview of how well you’re set up to address challenges or embrace opportunities based on the employee interviews.

Who this service is for:

Let’s start by clarifying that digital transformation is not just an IT problem. Our clients are often leaders who are not technologists. In fact, many companies we speak with are surprised to learn how many areas of the business are impacted by DX, including marketing, HR, IT, sales, operations, legal, and others.

There’s no escaping that every area of a business is going to have to manage change that digital transformation brings. Digital transformation should not be left for the IT department alone to figure out.

With that in mind, we’ve designed this report and presentation service most commonly for executives and managers in:

  • Operations, finance & strategy
  • Human resource departments
  • Marketing and sales departments
  • IT departments

Sure, you might not have to deal with artificial intelligence in your accounting department tomorrow. Or chatbots in your HR department. Or big data solutions for your manufacturing warehouse. But how can you be sure if you don’t understand these emerging technologies? What if your competitors are? And what if they’re getting a 6-month head start?

To get started, please contact the DX Institute.

This post was originally posted on DX Institute.

DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
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Agriculture

9 out of 10 digital transformation projects will fail

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Digital transformation is now a widely accepted term in enterprises across every industry. While leaders have embraced the idea, a report has found businesses are struggling to implement transformation strategies, with just one in ten projects successful.

The survey from Couchbase found that 90 percent of digital transformation projects have either fallen below planning expectations, delivered only minor improvements or altogether failed. The NoSQL database vendor surveyed 450 CIOs, CTOs and digital leaders at companies with over 1,000 employees in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany.

According to the survey respondents, problems usually occur due to a lack of business agility. The scope, scale and requirements of digital projects can shift significantly during their implementation. When these projects are completed in the context of a large enterprise, they are limited by existing processes that don’t possess the same flexibility.

This has created a disparity between businesses in traditional industries and start-ups focused on tech. Start-ups tend to be implicitly focused on the aims of transformation: improved productivity and an extended customer experience. Larger businesses stand to benefit the most from digital transformation but often find themselves constrained by the nature of their industry.

Specific challenges cited by the survey respondents included a lack of preparation within the organisation and a restrictive reliance on legacy technology. A combination of these problems means most companies find themselves unable to implement their digital transformation strategies, even if the original plan is sound.

This matters because an overwhelming majority of the business leaders surveyed agreed a successful digital transformation will be critical to the future success of their company. A full 73 percent said their industry is being disrupted by new technology, with a further 16 percent saying they expect a transition to be just a matter of time.

The consequences for firms that don’t adapt could be severe. Couchbase previously reported that 54 percent of companies expect to fail if they miss the impending digital transformation revolution. Companies are desperately trying to avoid being made irrelevant by the next Amazon or Uber. However, with only a small minority of digital projects succeeding, the CIOs and CTOs responsible for their implementation are becoming increasingly concerned.

Couchbase warned that enterprises are facing a “stark choice” as they move to put their transformation plans into motion. Companies need to balance the maintenance of their legacy systems with the introduction of modern customer-first alternatives. As entire industries migrate to digital approaches, studying success stories will be vital to installing satisfactory implementations.

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Microsoft ‘AI for Earth’ initiative uses tech to help the planet

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Industry
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Microsoft is unleashing AI on environmental issues facing the planet.

The company is specifically looking at using data to solve problems in the fields of agriculture, biodiversity, climate change and water access.

The initiative, called AI for Earth, is described as a program to “empower people and organizations” to solve challenges in the environment and climate. Microsoft thinks that making AI more accessible could enable breakthroughs in sustainability that help to protect the Earth.

Microsoft has committed $2 million in the next fiscal year to facilitate this work. It will partner with individuals and organizations who have ideas for the future, offering AI tools to accelerate their projects.

Microsoft’s not going to be directly investing in companies or taking equity stakes. Instead, it wants to provide tangible resources in the form of artificial intelligence. It’s part of a wider endeavour within the company to position itself as a leading member of the AI industry. Solving sustainability challenges using AI will give Microsoft and the technology a place to demonstrate its benefits from.

Organisations involved with AI for Earth will be offered grants that enable them to access Microsoft’s Azure cloud and AI computing tools. The company will also provide education on artificial intelligence, informing project leaders of what’s available and how it works.

“Our goal is to empower others in new and more impactful ways to help create a more sustainable future,” said Microsoft. “This program expands our commitments to democratizing AI and advancing sustainability around the globe. And it builds upon our experience in accelerating the pace of innovation bringing together philanthropic work, connectivity advances and more accessible technology around the world.”

There are currently three “lighthouse” projects in AI for Earth.

  1. FarmBeats is a data-driven approach to farming that helps farmers improve their yield and lower costs.
  2. Project Premonition is tracking mosquitoes to monitor the spread of diseases.
  3. Land Cover Mapping is a fast land mapping system being used by an NGO to help conserve the Chesaspeake watershed.

Applications are currently open for groups looking to enrol in the program.

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