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Is Blockchain the Answer… to Everything Supply Chain? Featured

blockchainisIf you’re involved in any way with technology you’re innundated with stories about how blockchain is changing the world and every bit data is now saved from corruption and theft because… blockchain. Is the hype justified? Should you have been developing blockchain oriented systems for the last year? Will your entire supply chain crumble because you haven’t converted to blockchain?


Probably not

Here’s what’s important to understand about blockchain and how it may or may not be different from every other hyped technology to come along.

First of all, blockchain is not an app; it’s a way to store data. That means that in many cases blockchain can be added to existing systems as a replacement or at least an adjunct to the databases that store data. Its distributed redundant architecture make it good for global databases because, well because it’s distributed and reduntant. That means data is copied to many locations, and one of those locations is likely to be relatively closer to where it needs to be accessed than it might otherwise be. In this role it is similar in function to a content delivery service like Cloudflare and Akamai that spreads copies of your data in storage systems around the world, meaning users get faster access to what they need.

It’s protected against loss because there are multiple copies of data so that if one storage server fails the others take over. And the failed server can be rebuilt from the copies on the others.

It’s safe against data breach because the transactions are annonymous. In many cases the transactions stored in blockchain servers are unencrypted and simply include an ID that links back to the owner. It’s similar in that way to a Swiss bank account that’s identified only by a number but not a name. In a blockchain system it may be relatively easy to see transactions but not possible to find out to whom they belong.

The benefits seem immense and only time will tell whether expectations hold true. Here are a few examples of companies jumping on the blockchain bandwagon. They range from startups and very small players to some very large companies that would seem to have done their homework.

Alibaba Gets Blockchain
Alibaba is using blockchain to protect its product authenticity and improve the integrity of their supply chain. Read the articleon The Drum

Tracking Aircraft Parts with Blockchain
Aerospace companies are turning to blockchain to prevent tragedy, reports Business Reports.Read the articleon Business Report

Coffee and Blockchain
According to CoinDesk, Ethiopia is interested in using blockchain technology to track the supply chain for its largest export, coffee. Read the articleon CoinDesk

Samsung Looks to Improve Supply Chain
According to Bloomberg Technology, Samsung is considering using blockchain technology for its global supply network. Samsung will use the technology to track everything from cross-border payments to the life-cycle of perishable goods. Read the articleon Bloomberg Technology

Blockchain Comes to Mining
Blockchain is helping mining companies bring transparency to the supply chain, reports Mining Technology. It can help them broker contracts between to firms, track commodities and even conflict minerals, reports Mining Technology. Read the articleon Mining Technology

Blockchain Helps Wool Industry Be Transparent
Blockchain will soon help the wool industry get more transparent, reports Sheep Central. The Australian Ethical Merino Growers Co-Op will role out new technology that will make it easy to see how the wool is sourced. Read the article on Sheep Central

Google Eyes Blockchain
Google is getting into blockchain, reports Bloomberg Technology. The company is finding ways to use blockchain-related technology to support its cloud business. Read the article on Bloomberg Technology

BMW Uses Blockchain for Sourcing
According to Global Mining, BMW is working with Circulor, developer of blockchain technology, to map the sourcing of cobalt for BMW’s electric vehicles. Read the article on Global Mining

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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