Is Blockchain Technology the perfect for Supply Chain Management challenges?

Many businesses understand that being able to manage their supply chain is vital to their success. Nevertheless many of these companies still struggle with their supply chain due to lack of visibly, the difficulty of obtaining accurate data in real-time, and the logistical problems associated of getting the right inventory to where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

To attempt to solve some of these challenges, many innovators are turning to blockchain technology with its smart contracts, immutable ledger and greater transparency. As Chris O’Connor stated in his recent article on “Driving industry advancements with Watson IoT and Blockchain”

“Traditionally, supply chain transactions are completed manually, creating delays and a higher risk for recording error, which can cause differences between what was recorded and what was loaded. By digitizing this process using blockchain and Watson IoT, the relevant information is captured directly from the sensors placed on the trucks, and entered onto the blockchain, creating a single, shared repository that all authorized participants can access and which can only be altered with consensus from all parties.” [1] – Chris Connor

Blockchain technology is all about providing an immutable distributed public general ledger where transactions are recorded and tracked. This makes it much easier to get real-time updates and to see what’s happening every step of the way.

In another article from the Harvard Business Review, Michael J. Casey and Pindar Wong observed that blockchain — an online globally distributed general ledger that keeps track of transactions via online “smart contracts” — will produce “dynamic demand chains in place of rigid supply chains, resulting in more efficient resource use for all.[2]”

As one of my Medical Device Supply Chain colleges observed recently “Pinpointing issues can be difficult when you have multiple suppliers across multiple states and countries, it can be hard to keep track of everything.”

With blockchain, the members of the network can see what’s going on as it happens. The inherit transparency of blockchain helps keep all those involved accountable for their end of the bargain. It’s a great way to get the whole picture, as well as drill down to individual aspects of the supply chain.

Smart Contracts and Using Blockchain Supply Management

Another reason why blockchain technology is so useful in supply chain management scenarios has to do with the smart contracts. With smart contacts, all the interested parties can see the terms of the agreement that enforce themselves.

To move forward with accepting changes to the smart contract, certain expectations have to be met. When the world state meet those expectations, the contracts can be fulfilled

Shared ledger consists of two data structures

The distributed replication of IBM Blockchain enables the business partners to access and supply IoT data without the need for central control and management. All business partners can verify each transaction, preventing disputes and ensuring each partner is held accountable for their roles in the overall transaction.

Leveraging blockchain for your IoT data opens up new ways of automating business processes among your partners without setting up an expensive centralized IT infrastructure.

Finally as the use of internet of things (IoT) devices and sensors becomes more and more commonplace, tracking the location and status (e.g., fitness, freshness, viability) is becoming easier.   With its new blockchain integration, the IBM Watson IoT platform is enabling IoT devices to send data from these “things” to a private blockchain network where the transaction can be added to the shared ledger with tamper-resistant records.

IoT-WatsonIoT-Blockchain-BusinessNetwork

In an upcoming post, I will dive deeper into how define, build and deploy blockchain applications using a combination of Blockchain, IBM Watson and IoT devices to solve some real world supply chain challenges.

For additional reading check out the following:

  1. Michael J. Casey and Pindar Wong, Global Supply Chains Are About to Get Better, Thanks to Blockchain, https://hbr.org/2017/03/global-supply-chains-are-about-to-get-better-thanks-to-blockchain
  2. Chris O’Connor, “Driving industry advancements with Watson IoT and Blockchain,” written July 19, 2017, https://www.ibm.com/blogs/internet-of-things/iot-blockchain-industry-advancements/
  3. Joe McKendrick, Why Blockchain May Be Your Next Supply Chain, retrieved 10-11-2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2017/04/21/why-blockchain-may-be-your-next-supply-chain/#7162bac713cf
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Walmart and 9 Food Giants Team Up on IBM Blockchain Plans

While blockchain technology is fairly, IBM has already helped several customers achieve success. Many financial organizations have already launched their own blockchain initiatives.

For instance, the diamond insurer, Everledger, has used blockchain to digitally store the provenance of diamonds to minimize and prevent everything from fraud to conflict stones. There are over 1.2 million diamonds on their blockchain today, which may save insurers up to $50B annually. ([1]).  However there are several areas where the use of blockchain are just now being explored.

For example, IBM partnered with Walmart, Nestle, Unilever and other food giants to trace food contamination with blockchain and thereby improve food safety.

Full coverage

 

 

Introducing the IBM Blockchain Network

 

While many financial institutions have explored, Bitcoin, the most well-established blockchain implementation for more the last couple years, the use of cryptocurrency has proven limited in scope and scalability.

However, Blockchain, the backend technology behind Bitcoin, has shown a lot of promise and several large companies including, IBM, are throwing their weight behind.  Fundamental units of blockchain are the transactions, where two parties exchange information.  The data is subsequently, verified and validated, whereby it is reviewed whether one party owns the respective rights for these transactions.

Blockchain Peer Network - 1

IBM Blockchain is based on Hyperledger Fabric from the Linux Foundation.  Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, is hosted by The Linux Foundation®. IBM provides blockchain solutions and services leveraging Hyperledger technologies, including Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Composer. For more see https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/hyperledger.html

IBM is already working on applying blockchain in the finance and logistics industries. It’s now working to use it to help food industry improve traceability by providing the businesses with a shared store of information that they can trust regarding the provenance and destination of ingredients.

To accomplish this, IBM is collaborating with a consortium of food manufacturing and distribution giants including Nestle, Tyson Foods, Dole, McCormick, Walmart and Kroger to identify new uses for blockchain technologies in the supply chain.   For more information checkout the article by Peter Sayer, “IBM wants to make blockchain good enough to eat”,.

In addition, IBM has recently launched an enterprise blockchain platform as part of its range of cloud services. The IBM Blockchain Platform is currently the only fully integrated enterprise-ready blockchain platform designed to accelerate the development, governance, and operation of a multi-institution business network.

The IBM Blockchain Platform is currently the only fully integrated enterprise-ready blockchain platform designed to accelerate the development, governance, and operation of a multi-institution business network.

·  Based on Hyperledger Fabric V1 runtime optimized for enterprise requirements

·  Specialized compute for security, performance and resilience

·  Delivered via the IBM Cloud on a global footprint with 24×7 Integrated Support

·  Full lifecycle tooling to speed activation and management of  your network

 IBM Blockchain Network

Businesses that want to roll their own blockchain can access IBM’s array of developer tools, including the Hyperledger Composer framework for mapping business processes to code.

For more details checkout:

  1. The IBM Blockchain Platform, https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/platform/
  2. Peter Sayer, “IBM wants to make blockchain good enough to eat”, Aug 23rd 2017, retrieved 9-23-2017, http://www.cio.in/news/ibm-wants-make-blockchain-good-enough-eat
  3. IBM Blockchain, http://www.techrepublic.com/article/can-ibm-bring-bitcoins-blockchain-technology-to-mainstream-business/
  4. Dr. Thomas Kaltofen, “5 Points how Blockchain will change our lives in a revolutionary way”, retrieved 9-24-2017, https://ict.swisscom.ch/2017/06/5-points-how-blockchain-will-change-our-lives-in-a-revolutionary-way/

Public vs Private – blockchains advantages and disadvantages

Recently one of my clients asked me my perspective on the advantages of public verses private blockchains.

Blockchain - benefits

This led to an extended discussion on several key topics –

  • Autonomy
  • Transparency
  • Security
  • Availability
  • Transaction speed
  • to name a few.

Afterwards, I did some additional  research and ran across a good blog, by Altabel Group’s Blog,  on the topic that I wanted to share.

Now everyone is talking about bitcoin, blockchains, its impact on the world economy, etc.. We can find lots of articles on the internet telling us when blockchain first appeared, the way blockchain works, its perspectives for the future. In my article I tried to look deeper and analyze different types of blockchains, their advantages and […]

via Differences and advantages of public and private blockchains — Altabel Group’s Blog

#blockchain-cloud-ibm-hyperledger

Getting started with Node.js and IBM Bluemix – Here is a good intro tutorial

Recently had the opportunity to run through a good Node.js tutorial on IBM Bluemix.

The sample application demonstrates how to build a simple sentiment analysis app using Node.js and a couple modules.  It takes a keyword, or hashtag, connects to Twitter to find matching tweets, and runs those tweets through a “sentiment analysis” module to produce a sentiment score.  ou will learn how to clone project, push changes to your Git repository and quickly deploy the app to Bluemix, see the complete tutorial on IBM Bluemix

You will learn how to clone project, push changes to your Git repository and quickly deploy the app to Bluemix, see the complete tutorial on IBM Bluemix Clone, edit, and deploy an app,

Here is a link to  the IBM Bluemix tutorial.  The instructions had me fork the project to create an on instance and IBM DevOps services automatically added to a git repo hosted on IBM Bluemix as well as connected to an initial deployment pipeline to help me get started.

Bluemix-Sentiment-Analysis-App.png

You can play with an instance of the application running at http://simplesentimentanalysis.mybluemix.net/