From hype to reality – blockchain in digital supply chain

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Blockchain is ushering in a new age of supply chain transparency and trust.

… and the winner for the most overrated technology buzzword of 2018 goes to … yes, you guessed it … blockchain.! Cue drum roll and cymbal crash.

And what a buzzword it was. You couldn’t go anywhere without reading about how blockchain was going revolutionize everything from banking to health – not to mention the hype around Bitcoin becoming the new global currency.

Now the hype is over and blockchain is maturing, what exactly are we doing with it? How should organizations deploy it? And how can we leverage blockchain to drive value across the supply chain – or a certain part of the supply chain?

The state of blockchain deployment maturity

As an immutable distributed database of transactions that enable supply chain organizations and consumers to trace individual packages quickly and effectively, blockchain is helping organizations tackle some of the key supply chain issues, including tracking provenance solutions, ensuring product safety and authenticity, improving trust and transparency, preventing counterfeiting – and ultimately – reducing cost.

However, a recent report by The Capgemini Research Institute entitled “Does blockchain hold the key to a new age of supply chain transparency and trust? stated that the vast majority of organizations (87%) are at an early experimental or proof-of-concept stage, while 10% are at an advanced stage of experimentation with pilots in at least one site, and only 3% of organizations are deploying blockchain at scale.

Real-world use cases

Here are a couple of examples of how Capgemini has helped organizations implement value-adding blockchain programs.

We’ve successfully deployed a blockchain solution that enables traceability, provenance, and payments for a digital marketplace connecting farmers and fishermen with high-end restaurants. By tracking Australia’s southern rock lobsters using a blockchain solution integrated with smart tagging technology, Capgemini was able to develop a commercially viable blockchain solution that has simplified the client’s supply chain. This has reduced supply chain costs by removing the middleman and helped the company to pass on these savings to both producers and restaurants.

Capgemini is also delivering a proof of concept for a pharmaceutical company, deploying a “smart container” management system based on blockchain technology. Smart containers are transportation containers equipped with sensors and transmission technologies, which transmits data from the sensors to a blockchain. The combination of real-time data about container conditions and tamper-proof storage of that data on a blockchain is delivering unprecedented levels of transparency within the supply chain processes involved.

Best practices for a resilient blockchain

So, how do you work out whether you need a blockchain? Do these statements resonate for your organization:

  • Traceability and its authenticity are a critical aspect of your supply chain and are difficult to achieve with your current set up
  • You need to eliminate or minimize costs associated with certain intermediaries, such as the cost of proof of delivery or an audit process to improve efficiency across the entire value chain
  • You want to look at new trust-based business models that are made possible by blockchain.

Once you’ve assessed the need for blockchain, some of the key best practices for implementing a resilient blockchain include:

  • Assess your organizational readiness by ensuring you have the required talent for a blockchain implementation
  • Identify your key hurdles to blockchain implementation. These could be strategic, operational, or relate to the state of your partners’ IT systems and security
  • Prepare your strategy based on your market position
  • Ascertain how you want to measure the success of your proofs of concept
  • Implement strong security controls before scaling initiatives
  • Be a part of a consortium to achieve standardization.

Supply chain organizations have moved from blockchain hype to reality, which is ushering in a new age of supply chain transparency and trust. Capgemini is helping our clients to move from an early experimental or proof-of-concept stage to deploying blockchain at scale.

To learn more about how Capgemini’s Digital Supply Chain Practice  can help your organization implement a resilient blockchain program that tackles your key supply chain challenges, contact:

Read Capgemini Research Institute’s “Does blockchain hold the key to a new age of supply chain transparency and trust? report to learn more about how organizations have moved from blockchain hype to reality.

Jörg Junghanns  leverages innovation and a strategic and service mindset to help clients transform their supply chain operations into a growth enabler.

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