Is blockchain finally real and what does a banana have to do with it?

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Jackie LaRocca, Senior Consultant, shares her thoughts about the near future of blockchain and its relation to Supply Chain industries.

Blockchain technology has been rapidly evolving the last few years, with new products launching this month that could allow for enterprise blockchain networks, linking together FoodTrust™, WorldWire™ and TradeLens™ networks to better serve business. The FoodTrust network is arguably the most well-known of the three to an everyday consumer, mainly because of the giant Walmart backing, yet the network has not been adopted by all members for everyday use.

Ant Cole from IBM provided a great example of how these networks can work together to deliver business benefit using a banana as the star: “A banana grown in Costa Rica, can be tracked on FoodTrust from the farm, tracking it through processing, grading and packaging. Then a handover as it is shipping using TradeLens to cut the paperwork required between so many parties involved and easing the shipping process. When the banana arrives in Australia the payment is sent via WorldWire giving a faster payment with full visibility. Both of these link back to FoodTrust so the retailer has full visibility of the process and the consumer knows exactly what they are buying. Faster, Lower Costs, Increased Efficiency.”

Sound great, right? Yet adoption to the network is low, so how can these blockchain networks really provide benefit to business?

Though blockchain is an emerging technology, businesses are facing classic barriers to change. Given businesses have signed up to the network in principle, why is real business adoption so low? Do businesses not understand the network? Are the benefits not clear? Do they not want to be the first mover? Or are we applying blockchain where there is no business problem?

I think there is no single reason why adoption has been slow on the uptake, but a combination of 3 major factors:

  • Executives are hesitant to invest money, time and brand credibility into an emerging technology. With any new technology there is a risk associated. For example, the network might be overwhelmed with transactions and then it might not work. How will businesses test the network without putting data at risk?
  • Blockchain networks fundamentally change the way business is conducted and traditional business giants are not ready or prepared to make those changes
  • Benefits are still intangible at the moment as critical mass adoption has not been reached

I understand these points may be perceived as traditional barriers to change, and some may be controversial among blockchain enthusiasts.

Is blockchain finally here, then? Well, yes. Blockchain is all around, but businesses are hesitating to use it. Whatever the reason may be, as soon as linked-up use cases like the banana example start to appear and their benefits are proven, I expect real business adoption starting and I am sure that the adoption curve will be steep.

Author


Jackie LaRocca

Jackie joined Capgemini Invent ‘s Future of Technology capability in August 2016 having worked in the Gaming industry. She is currently leading a global team, as the Innovation Lead for a major FMCG client in the Finance Transformation space, specialising in emerging technologies such as Blockchain and AI.

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