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NextGen Supply Chain: Blockchain thoughts at the height of the holiday season

No one knows for sure what is the potential of blockchain, but everyone wants to know what they should do!

By ·
By ·

It was only a matter of time.

“Santa extols blockchain in yuletide supply chain” announces a headline in a Forbes on-line column. Some might even say this “development” has even more potential than Amazon Prime in moving the supply chain ahead. Who knows. 
And that is exactly where we are with blockchain today. No one knows for sure what its potential is. Or as Lora Cecere, founder of Supply Chain Insights, has said – “we are starting into the hype cycle of blockchain and people want to know that they should do.”

Indeed they do.

We all hear several key words for blockchain in the supply chain – secure, immutable, trust, transparent, digital, end-to-end. As a technology to track the flow of goods and money, blockchain is being tested by industries as diverse as food and pharma. These tests are in bite-size pieces that allow companies and their trading partners to stress test specific capabilities of blockchain from digital bills of lading to track and trace turkeys.

At the same time, the patent machine is cranking into high gear. In 2010, there were fewer than 100 blockchain patent applications filed. For the first seven months of 2017, that number was up to 390, reports coindesk.com, a digital media company focused on the blockchain technology community. Hmmmm.

“Blockchain isn’t just for bankers anymore…One of the most promising blockchain trends is its growing disruptive presence in the Internet of Things,” reports BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service.

As is the case elsewhere in the supply chain, blockchain can cut costs and improve services with the IoT. There’s also the matter of improving visibility and building trust across IoT nodes. These themes are being repeated time and again across blockchain tests in the supply chain.

“Blockchain can provide the technical foundation for a globally secure supply chain,” says Rick Fox, President/CEO of Fox IV, an automated labeling solutions provider. Actually, Fox was the first person I ever heard say blockchain had a place in the supply chain. That was 18 months ago. Now he says, “just as you Google today to get information, you will Blockchain in the future to get authentication.” Time will tell.

Exactly how much time will be needed remains the big question. But some are already starting to make predictions.

According to Oracle’s Blockchain Cloud Service, 10% of global GDP will be stored in blockchain technology by 2027. If you think 10% isn’t much and 2027 is far away, remind yourself that less than 15% of retail is currently online after a similar time period. We all know about the disruptions that has caused. 

We may be in the early stages of blockchain, but now is the time to think big, says senior vice president of Oracle’s Cloud Platform, Amit Zavery. “Blockchain holds the promise to fundamentally transform how business is done, making business-to-business transactions more secure, transparent, and efficient,” he says.

Santa may be onto something.


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