The Blockchain-Empowered Supply Chain
How Blockchain Delivers Tamper-Proof Traceability Across the Supply Chain
Today, the shift to the cloud means businesses everywhere are grappling with a new reality: everything-as-a-service (XaaS). For the most part, this fundamental shift has been positive as businesses refocus their efforts and resources on the customer experience.
This is also changing how businesses think about their supply chains. As supply chain networks become more complex and more global, guaranteeing the integrity of products and goods has taken center stage. Compliance is no longer a local matter as products are sourced globally. Meanwhile, the number of transactions flowing through the supply chain continues to grow and opportunities for failure proliferate. Securing data across supply chains and securing trust in that data, across an ecosystem of partners and consumers, is critical.
How can robust and tamper-proof supply chains be built, that provide verified information at speed and at scale? What technologies can enterprises leverage to verify that the data they depend on is trustworthy?
Blockchains offer new ways for enterprises to mitigate operational risk across complex and non-integrated supply chains, one that is disconnected and functions in silos, but anchoring data on a public blockchain continues to be a costly endeavor. In this white paper, we explore how new data verification technologies can work with track and trace solutions to verify the authenticity of any digital asset at massive scale to leverage blockchain across the supply network.
Why markets shift towards Everything-as-a-Service
As mentioned before the shift in the market towards XaaS has spawned a lot of interest and following this a gradual adoption. The hype-curve seems to have played out in this case. However, there are four major trust-oriented trends that are driving some of these projects and interests in using a blockchain to support a supply chain.
Ownership of Data
One of the first trends is ownership. There is a shift in who is owning the customer experience, who is owning the intellectual property or the digital good. This is indicative of the shift towards XaaS.
This started with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where there is no software on-premises, as seen with Salesforce. You don’t need to ‘own’ anything. You can rent everything! You see it in consumer and entertainment products. Certainly, Netflix, Amazon and Spotify somewhat drive that trend.
You can observe this trend in the industry and in consumer goods. One example, the new HP printer. Effectively, you barely own it. While you do have to pay something upfront, you are now on a subscription plan for ink. So, they are essentially selling you pages printed. You can see the same thing in industry as it relates to aircraft engines. No longer is an aircraft engine being sold as much as flight hours are being sold.
Further, this trend of ‘as a service’ is not exclusive to physical goods, but it is also for digital goods: data or data-as-a-service. This entire shift of ownership has also shifted risk and with ownership comes risk. The risk is to the customer experience as well as the liability. Moving from a capital expense (CAPEX) towards an operating expense (OPEX) is creating many different drivers. One great example is the move from on-premise servers to cloud services such as Dropbox, Box or Microsoft azure.
Privacy of Data
The shift towards “…-as-a-Service” leads to a megatrend from a trust perspective: privacy. The how, why and who possesses the consumer data and even product usage data is prime. This data can range from rather mundane customer profiles or more personal in-depth information like transactions they’ve created, how they are paying and how frequently, over to incredibly sensitive data such as your personal health data.
Businesses are required to follow high compliance standards related to such information, be it in the healthcare or manufacturing industry. Such standards need to be upheld by both the regular healthcare staffer and the large medical device manufacturer alike. Privacy and the principles around privacy as it relates to the notification and awareness of how data is being used, providing choice and consent for how that data is being used from a consumer’s perspective. Also, the access and participation to change or have that data removed is all creating a sense of how to secure and provide data integrity so you can enforce these privacy policies, stay compliant and then address any type of concerns that might occur.
Security for Data
Security is a third trend that has been driving many projects in any industry. In 2018 the amount spent globally for preventing fraud both on payments of goods as well as transactions exceeded 17 billion USD. A million people are said to die per year from fraudulent pharmaceutical products. If more machines are talking to machines, you run into a situation where you need to secure this data. You need to make sure it’s private. And then you need to control risk.
It’s not just about counterfeit and tariffs, but it’s also about knowing where products come from in your supply chain. The very interesting thing recently, as of September, the exports from Vietnam had raised to 23 billion dollars into the United States. That may or may not sound like a lot until you realize that the average was 7 billion.
Integrity for Data
What is happening here is that products are being ‘washed’. Products come out of China, go into Vietnam and then they get into your products. And then they ultimately get shipped to your consumers, which may or may not violate not only tax laws but also regulatory laws.
So, the problem is: knowing the integrity of your product and how you prove that integrity has become center stage. It’s not just a local compliance here in the States. Every region has its set of compliance standards. Be it in Europe with GDPR and personal privacy, be it in California with the CCPA, or even in countries like Russia where they have the Russian law for personal data. Every geography has come up with their own. So, coming up with a way to securely share data has become of utmost importance.
Stay tuned for the continuation next week!