It’s true that blockchain is in many ways just another technology looking to intrude on EDI’s entrenched place in the B2B world. But there are issues with the way we’ve dealt with supply chain documents that even after 40 years, have not been sufficiently addressed. Blockchain may have that silver bullet that makes the benefits of adoption worth the pain of change.
At the heart of many blockchain B2B initiatives is the issue of transparency. You know; getting the same version of information to every participant at the same time and being able to rely on its veracity. Not an easy thing to accomplish, and in fact not a reality for most.
Blockchain has two killer advantages that are making companies take a closer look at the technology. It is both secure and distributed. Those attributes haven’t been compatible in the past but now that it’s been accomplished companies (mostly software and service provider companies) are jumping at the chance to capitalize on the benefits and deliver capabilities previously nearly impossible to promise.
Microsoft has announced its CoCo framework that gives IT the tools it needs to harness blockchain and deliver its benefits at the enterprise level. If you’re really interested in what this might do for your company here’s a short video from Microsoft. The video is fairly jargon-heavy but is a good introduction.
For its part, IBM has announced an initiative aimed at the food industry to deliver a ‘trusted environment for transactions’ that has garnered several big name players including Dole, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart. The effort is indended to coordinate traceability at a global level and work to curb the estimated 420,000 annual deaths caused by contaminated food.
Both Microsoft and IBM clearly have their own company goals in mind as they move ahead with blockchain initiatives and products and some are moving very quickly to market. Smaller companies should take notice of these efforts and look at the underlying services these and other providers offer. Blockchain may not take over every facet of B2B document delivery but it’s already made headway in some important areas.