You walk into the local supermarket and scan the produce. You make your pick using the usual criteria: what’s ripe, what’s unbruised? But what if you could see beyond the surface?
Improved provenance and storytelling for individual goods are trends that’s accelerating blockchain’s adoption in supply chain management, and it’s not the only two.
Blockchain technology will clue customers in to how their food was grown, where their products were assembled, and the route those goods took to the store. This will bring peace of mind to customers, but it could do even more for retailers.
More detailed, real-time ledgers will pinpoint inefficiencies and logistical breakdowns. This could save growers, producers, distributors, and retailers big bucks. An industry-wide need for better security will also drive blockchain innovation.
Ransomware hijacks critical infrastructure, and in 2019, that typically refers to computers. This sort of attack is a single shot that can cripple an entire operation, and it’s a supply chain manager’s worst nightmare.
Blockchain may be a worthy opponent to stand up against ransomware attacks. As businesses continue to lose money to digital threats, look for them to turn to this technology as a new, largely untested approach to supply chain security.
These followed experts weighed in on the trends shaping blockchain adoption by supply chain managers.
1. Bhagat Nainani, Group Vice President of IoT and Blockchain Applications Development, Oracle
“We’re seeing more use of blockchain in supply chain management to track and trace the provenance of products and materials. Take Alpha Acid Brewing, for example. They on-boarded their malt, yeast and hops suppliers onto a blockchain distributed ledger to track ingredients from harvest to beer production and on to the customer. They have visibility into the harvest conditions, route of transit conditions, the ingredients in each batch, and where each batch ends up. This helps them tell customers exactly what’s in their beer, verifies the quality of ingredients they receive and gives them the ability to conduct targeted recalls if needed.”
2. Sylvie Thompson, Associate Partner for Supply Chain Optimization with Infosys Consulting
“The biggest trend shaping blockchain in supply chain management is the digitization of supply chains. As discussed in our recent whitepaper “A BlockchainEnabled Disruption Wave”, blockchain, at its simplest, is a decentralized digital ledger. Participation in any blockchain requires a digitally enabled ecosystem and as more supply chains are transformed into digital networks, their ability to engage and connect becomes a reality.”
3. Marc Degen, Co-founder of Modum
“We will see more pilots and first production offers going to market – those offers will deliver a USP by itself besides their “blockchain core idea”. Blockchain as business model will not set foot to the ground in the enterprise space. But those solutions will have a simpler path for the upcoming network based business models which adoption is for sure slower as we’re in the corporate/enterprise space.”
4. Ken Evans, CEO of Konexial
“The number one trend in 2019 for blockchain deployment in supply chain will be publicity of real world pilots using blockchain technology. These projects will likely focus on solving “traceability” challenges. The ability of a major retailer to definitively and quickly answer issues on food product safety is an example of this type of use case.
However, these simple “traceability” use cases will give way to higher value uses like freight payment, geo-temporal collaborative shipment execution, and customs/clearance documentation.”
5. Steve Treagust, Global Industry Director at IFS
“As soon as a few of the larger players go into production with a successful blockchain-enabled supply chain, others will follow suit. There’s a lot of buzz around blockchain, but many organizations and individuals still don’t really understand blockchain. It’s difficult to separate it from the more media-friendly cryptocurrency use case that it was born to serve.
Some security concerns relating to multi-party access to a global network still exist, although cryptography-secured chains were shown to provide very high levels of security. All these concerns and misunderstandings can be addressed with education. There is nothing that spurs faster learning than having to compete with an organization already successfully using blockchain to reduce supply chain costs.”
6. Gert Sylvest, CTO and Co-founder and GM of Tradeshift Frontiers
“There have been some interesting developments in terms of real-world currencies being represented on blockchains. This should drive wider use, because enterprises will no longer be put off by the volatility of cryptocurrencies.”
7. Christiaan Sluijs, CFO of T-Mining
“The number of blockchain initiatives will continue to rise and even accelerate in 2019. Most of the early blockchain adopters are now in a Pilot phase, rather than a Proof of Concept phase like 12 months ago. Setting up a blockchain pilot becomes easier and less costly, with shorter iteration cycles, so changes can be tested faster. Blockchain initiatives that are only focused on the hype around the technology, will most likely suffer from a lack of proven business value.”
8. Srinivasan Sriram, CEO and Founder of Skuchain
9. Ian Kane, COO and Founder of Ternio
“I believe it’s scalability. Enterprise organizations are starting to understand how blockchain can create trust and save on cost within supply chains. Many are working on proofs of concept, but in order to save an organization real time and money – they need to be able to scale the proof of concept to real world application.”
10. Grant Blaisdell, Co Founder of Coinfirm
“The current trend what we see is that companies are moving towards digital transformation and digitalization of assets. Every traditional industry and business are now thinking of Digital Transformation, which is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, redefining how businesses operate and deliver new value to the organisation’s employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders. Digital Transformation has many aspects, but a core and integral aspect in incorporating digitisation of assets and use of blockchain technology is to optimize operations with higher efficiency, trust and security. This is why more and more CEOs, COOs, CIOs from Banking, Insurance, BPOs, Telecom, Logistics, FMCG, Retail, Manufacturing and other industries are embracing Blockchain Technology as part of their Digital Transformation strategy. The blockchain applications around industries vary based on supply chain models, industry, regulation and customer requirements.”
11. John Thielens, CTO of Cleo
“Today’s supply chain management approach leverages a large set of well-established tools and relationships with reasonable efficacy. As a new technology, the adoption of blockchain will be shaped by new requirements, opportunities and initiatives that extend our conception of the scope of supply chain management. One area that is already seeing some disruptive pressure from new entrants is transportation and logistics, where increased visibility and transparency can provide supply chain network participants more time to react and optimize in the face of disturbances.”
12. Aba Schubert, CEO of Dorae, Inc
13. Scott Carlson, Head of Blockchain Security at Kudelski Security
“Receiving sensor data is one of the most important trends we expect to see shaping the supply chain landscape throughout 2019. Blockchain has the potential to enable IoT devices to report on the goods, locations, and process steps along a supply chain, including as part of manufacturing. We will see many more IoT products and integrations going to market, also allowing smaller players to take advantage.”
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