Blockchain technology has garnered a lot of attention as a technology that can provide much-needed solutions in supply chain transactions and management. In the recent past, people have seen a significant rise in the amount of information, academic and professional, on the technology, its uses, and implementation.
Although blockchain is majorly known as a cryptocurrency, particularly a bitcoin technology, it’s slowly moving away from that area. The focus has shifted to enterprise blockchain. Among its best uses is in supply chain management, where it’s being used for supply chain transaction provenance.
If you’re considering blockchain implementation in your business, here are the steps for successful implementation:
Identify and Define Use cases
Any strong business case must show how the business plans to adopt and apply blockchain in the supply chain. This is the first step in determining whether the technology is fit for your company. Have a use case that can deliver results and best practices beyond using a “cool” technology for your business. Assess your business’ readiness regarding your digital infrastructure, processes, and transactions.
Your focus should be where the digital preparedness and maximum business value meet. While blockchain can provide things other technologies can’t, it’s still not a one-size-fits-all technology for every business. Ensure the technology is suitable for your specific use case. If you’re not sure where to start, reputable blockchain consultants can offer you guidance.
Identify Areas of Implementation
If you can’t figure out the best areas to implement blockchain in your supply chain, here are the best places to look at:
- Where data exchange between various unrelated parties.
- Places where there’s no central authority to implement guidelines and procedures.
- Where you need consistent and simple transactional processes with well-laid down data standards.
- Where the information exchanged on the blockchain (digital assets) has a value of and in itself.
Attract Partners to the Project
A supply chain has many counterparties, and you and your partners must be all on board to start using blockchain. If other parties in the chain fail to get on board the technology, the chain history will have gaps and be incomplete. Therefore, you want to have partners who are ready to explore blockchain’s benefits with you.
Using blockchain in the supply chain requires different and independent parties to agree and embrace it and share its benefits. Blockchain’s benefit rise with the number of participating parties. But, if some partners or the data they share isn’t trustworthy, that can lead to massive security issues in the supply chain.
With blockchain, the quality of data determines the reliability of the ledger entries. Accurate information is the key to the success of implementing blockchain in supply chain transactions. You need to have this in mind when selecting blockchain partners in the supply chain. Ensure you can trust the information provided.
For you to benefit optimally from blockchain, ensure that the technology integrates well into the existing technology infrastructure. You should look at your larger data strategy that merges well with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. There should be no disconnect between blockchain technology and complex programming languages such as Ethereum.
Factor in Blockchain’s Volatility
Blockchain is a growing technology, and you should expect it to undergo rapid changes before becoming mainstream. Although the blockchain market as it is right now is vast with even bigger growth potential, it’s quite fragmented. Some offerings focus on tokenization while others on others confidentiality.
Test the Technology before Implementation
If you decide to use blockchain technology in your supply chain, ensure to test it thoroughly. You can have a pilot program to check and identify gaps, and areas that need improvement. This means testing the technology on a small scale first and involving all user roles i.e. the manufacturer, shipper, distributor, retailer, and end-user. Ensure also to have financial contractors on board. After the test, you can now consider expanding the network gradually.
A supply chain faces many challenges, such as fraud and counterfeits, lack of clear visibility from all touchpoints, and many others. But blockchain has a high potential of solving many of those issues, especially traceability and tracking, by creating a visible end-to-end chain. Although there are challenges in implementing blockchain in the supply chain, such as getting the right partners on board, the benefits are immense if well implemented.