Blockchain is no longer just a ledger

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Supply-chain professionals need to activate data in chains to drive efficiencies and automation

It is estimated that the global blockchain supply-chain market will reach $3.3 billion by 2023. Many companies are trying to figure out how to boost transparency in an increasingly global supply chain while managing costs, and blockchain technology is a good answer. This need is even greater in the face of COVID-19.

Creating a blockchain to hold information seems like a simple idea. A blockchain is essentially a list of records, and each block of information has a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction date. This design ensures the data remains unchanged.

When blockchain is discussed, most people think about the material ledger and tracking capabilities, and it does provide visibility and traceability within supply chains, but there is deeper functionality to consider.

Blockchain provides consistent master data management (MDM) as well as documentation and information that is not readily available elsewhere in the system. This data can be analyzed in multiple ways and, most importantly, provides insight into improving business processes. For example, companies can more easily build automated machine learning and intelligence because the everyday work and the data collected is consistent.

Even beyond blockchain implementations, the wider goal of rethinking these processes is to evaluate where and how companies get their data and, in turn, connect that information with automation to eventually build an autonomous supply chain.

Stop thinking about blockchain as just a currency or security tool. It is not just a material ledger that traces every step in the process. Instead, see blockchain as a business function that allows companies to tap into new capabilities. Supply-chain organizations can take the principles of blockchain information and security and drive new ideas and technologies forward.

The key for the supply chain is to find efficiencies in the system. These systems are getting more complicated, and just-in-time delivery is becoming increasingly challenging as consumer demands increase. In a world of growing instant gratification, supply-chain professionals need to figure out how to deliver what consumers want.

A blockchain solution holds the data needed to drive automation opportunities. It is about tapping into that information and activating data to drive innovation. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can take away some of the more mundane tasks, so the supply-chain workforce can focus on adding value to the process.

Stop looking at blockchain as just a ledger and see how it can positively impact supply-chain functions. In a world where the global supply chain is becoming increasingly complex, it is time to activate data to drive automation and deliver at the speed of business today.

Cyndi Lago is Vice President at Capgemini Invent. She advises clients on supply-chain execution strategy and digital transformation. Connect with her on operations management, e-commerce, analytics, and strategic planning at cyndi.lago@capgemini.com.

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