IBM on Blockchain and Shipping: “It’s about Building Set of Neutral Tools the Entire Supply Chain Can Leverage”

  • Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology (DLT) has many potential use cases, according to crypto industry participants.
  • One of its main use cases is to improve traditional supply chain management processes.

In the fifth episode of the IBM Blockchain Pulse, host, Matt Hooper spoke with TradeLens’ Director of Strategy and Operations, Daniel Wilson regarding the use of blockchain technology within the supply chain sector.

Some of the aspects that have been discussed throughout the episode entail the evolution of shipping and innovation, what the industry will look like in the future, and blockchain’s role in supply chain amongst others.

Overall, Wilson makes the argument that the use of blockchain is not so much to control data, but to find a way that would help leverage the entire supply chain.

Evolution of Shipping and Innovation Over the Course of Time

When asked what he can say about supply chain in the past versus what is helping to change the industry altogether, Wilson noted that said need for change only sparked after the 2008 financial crisis.

“Essentially, the last 50 years has seen at best incremental improvements or changes the way any part of the business model will work […] Nothing has really changed.” The latter part of the statement was made in reference to how changes were limited for some time in terms of how things were moved.

Wilson further noted that the need for innovation only sprung into existence some time in 2010, where, as he claimed, “things started to get a bit trickier.”

Some of these tricky situations include the 2008 financial crisis, slow growth in global trade, and lack of opportunities. These three are what led many to find ways to add value to supply chains.

Blockchain Technology and Its Contributions to Data Management

Managing supply chain has become inefficient due the several layers that exist. According to Wilson, blockchain becomes essential when there are “dozens of different parties” involved in a system, where there are documents and titles of ownership and not knowing those involved but still trying to figure out who they might be.

Eventually, all of this leads to doubt and lack of trust and referring back to several data can get complicated. Due to this, Wilson thinks digitalizing data will help build better communication. Here’s more that Wilson has shared throughout the interview:

“Most of the time you are using Excel to try and manage your data and supply chains and that is average case scenario […],” adding that “Small amount of value can be created across the entire supply chain ecosystem because people no longer have to wait for information or actionable instruction; they can take that as given and start using [blockchain] in their day-to-day businesses.”

To listen in on the entire episode, click here:

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