“Nobody knows the future. You can only create the future.” – Jack Ma
Many have predicted 2016 to be debut year for Blockchain technology in Supply Chain Management and its implications are far beyond just payments. Simply put, a blockchain is a public ledger of all Bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed. It is constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks are added to it with a new set of recording (source Investopedia).
Markets are abuzz with the hype behind the digital currency ‘Bitcoin’ which appears to be a game changer for supplier chain finance. If high valuations of Bitcoin be treated as a true representation of market valuations and sentiments, then the impact and benefits of underlying Blockchain technology catch the fancy as well.
If you are interested in understanding your role in a supply chain; the economic-social-environmental impact (say as a buyer of goods and services) then block chain technology would most certainly interest you.
Let me enumerate few of the benefits supply chains can amass through blockchain technology:-
- Simplicity: Basic premise of blockchain is public ledger. It’s an extended distributed database, where each new computer connected to network (say bitcoin network), will get a copy of the blockchain. For example, manufacturer is sharing books with their suppliers and further with the end buyers or a Vending Machine installed at Airport, sending message to its Maintenance team and further to an individual food item supplier with automatic order to replenish exemplify the level of granularity attached to a block chain. The level of simplicity and transparency can be observed from the fact that information is consistent and definitely up-to-date.
- Security: One of architecture principles of blockchain technology is ‘all information to the chain is established only if it is authenticated.’ Further, a block chain is irrevocable; i.e. a block cannot be deleted thereby alienating the scope of fraud and adding to the level of security. By design, blockchain is completely auditable.
- Scalability: In a literal sense, it is possible for several number of participants to access these blocks. If you are extrapolating to supplier’s supplier, then that is also possible.
Now whether it lives up to the hype around it as a potential disruptive technology, is yet to be seen for the skepticism around its volatile nature and newness to the market. The possibilities are many for the essentially futuristic block chain technology and although it may be a while before many significant applications of block chain surface, the outcomes seem fairly beneficial.
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