Blockchain for the Supply Chain

A question of trust in trade

The modern supply chain is long on data and short on trust. Historically, mistrust between organizations, including fear that information might be passed on to a competitor has stopped organizations from sharing data. In turn, even when information is shared, it’s often not fully trusted.

The Blockchain

Blockchains – distributed ledgers that create a permanent and shared record of every transaction associated with an asset – create an unbroken chain of trust. Each record is time-stamped and appended to the event before it. Blockchains have the potential to generate breakthroughs in three areas: visibility, optimization and demand.

Data records on the blockchain can be accessed only by authorized participants; this can be all participants or only those that need a particular portion of the data. Data ownership and access can be anonymous yet securely identified between partners who require verification. In short, it can be widely shared and protected at the same time.

Is Blockchain the right answer?

How can you create value, collaborate and compete with blockchains? Organizations looking for new ways to create value, collaborate and compete must consider the following questions:

  1. Which of your existing partners and what other institutions need to participate in the blockchain to make it worthwhile?
  2. How much and which data should you reveal and to whom?
  3. What data do you have that might have value to others and is there a way for you to benefit from that value?
  4. Which intermediaries in your ecosystem exist simply to certify trust or handle complexity?
  5. How would new access to customer – or supply chain partners’ – demand signals change my operations?