Blockchain is THE hot word for 2018 and the buzz around it continues to rise.
That’s not a bad thing. Although there can be no guarantee that any one technology solution can be a silver bullet and solve all problems, blockchain applications in the enterprise offer real promise.
The hottest sector being looked at currently is the supply chain management field, specifically in the area of shipping. This age-old system may be the first major use-case the world sees as IBM and Maersk set out to digitize global trade. Estimates say trade document processing and administration currently adds an eye-popping 20 percent to the physical cost of shipping a single container. That, in an industry that ships an estimated $4 trillion worth of goods each year. If blockchain can reduce the paperwork and intermediary ecosystem, the industry could be revolutionized.
The implications are truly staggering. And it’s coming soon — consider this noteworthy headline that a shipment of soybeans transported from Argentina to Malaysia, made by US food giant Cargill, HSBC and ING, used blockchain technology as the backbone. “With blockchain, the need for paper reconciliation is removed because all parties are linked on the platform and updates are instantaneous”, they reported.
Blockchain should be considered a strategy, not just a technology. The industry is in its infancy right now — think Internet 1994. (That’s BEFORE Google, eBay, Yahoo, etc.) From the distributed ledger technology, to smart contracts, to crypto payments, to rebuilding trust between corporations and their suppliers and customers, blockchain holds promise. That promise can turn to reality with careful strategic planning — not just jumping on the latest bandwagon.
I recommend corporate education as a starting point — we can’t know what the next steps are until executive and senior management have a working knowledge of what blockchain is and why it’s revolutionary.
My efforts are currently focused on board-level presentations that I have been delivering around the world to some of the most iconic brands on the planet — helping to set a baseline understanding of the development and future of blockchain.
There’s no doubt that blockchain is exciting and potentially disrupting. As the fast-mover companies shift into the pilot phase of their projects we will also start to receive more concrete data on what is working (and what is still problematic) with the technology.
There’s no doubt that the sense of urgency is growing. It is time to get on the blockchain train and find out what this is all about.