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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IoT Continuous Engineering: Pitfalls and Solutions for Agile and Systems Developers — Building Software, Author, Jim Ruehlin

Below is the presentation a college of mine, Jim Ruehlin , gave at All things Open 2016. The goal was to give people a wider perspective when formulating their Internet of Things development strategies. IoT is still relatively new. There are many similarities between Agile and Systems development styles, and some important differences. The people entering IoT development come with the histories and […]

via IoT Continuous Engineering: Pitfalls and Solutions for Agile and Systems Developers — Building Software

Internet of Things, are we ready?

IBM Watson Internet of Things, IoT in the cognitive era

Most analysts agree that that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be huge and it’s not hard to explain why it’s happening now. As virtually everything becomes connected—from cars to crops to conveyor belts—businesses can harness the resulting data to improve almost every aspect of what they do.

Gartner predicts that the total number of connected consumer, to grow to 30 billion units by 2020, representing an almost 30-fold increase over the 900 million things in 2009.  (1)

With the cost of sensors, networking chips and other technology required to connect to the Internet devices ranging from light bulbs to smartwatches to industrial equipment becoming inexpensive.  IoT will radically change the way businesses operate and people interact with the physical world.

iot-device-roadmap

We are on the threshold of a massive explosion of connected things; with 10+ billion devices currently connected to the Internet around the world. This number is expected to dramatically increase over the next decade, with estimates ranging from 50 billion to 1 trillion devices, the Internet of Things has the potential  to create economic impact  of $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion annually by 2025

How to get started?

As with other broad technology categories such as the cloud or mobile, the IoT offers quality-of-life improvements using devices that comprise the broad IoT perform different functions.

As more and more devices connect together to form the Internet of Things, the volume of data is expanding at an exponential rate. However currently most software applications can’t act on nearly 90 percent of the data generated from these connected devices. Due in large part to our limited ability to analyze the vast quantities of unstructured information we receive from IoT devices.

IoT value is realized in four foundational areas

  • Industry Transformation – Evolving new business models
  • Application and Solutions – Optimizing operations and enhancing performance
  • Platforms – Building and managing IoT solutions
  • Devices and Networks – Connecting what matters

Using IoT Watson computing capabilities, gives us the opportunity to make sense of IoT data such as images, video, and text in a variety of languages. As the cognitive system “learns,” it can even provide recommendations about your best course of action.

composable-business

IBM is investing $3B over the next four years to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions.

 IoT 1 - Cloud Open Platform.png IBM IoT Cloud Open Platform for Industries
New analytics services that clients, partners and IBM will use to design and deliver vertical industry IoT solutions.
 iot-2-iot-services-within-bluemix New IoT services within IBM Bluemix
Enabling developers to easily integrate IoT data into cloud-based development and deployment of IoT apps.
 iot-1-ibm-partner-ecosystem Expansion of its ecosystem of IoT partners
From silicon and device manufacturers to industry-oriented solution providers

To learn More

IBM and Coursera have teamed up to offer a new online course, “A Developer’s Guide to the Internet of Things”, for developers who are just getting started with IoT. This entry-level course focuses on Raspberry Pi, the IBM Bluemix platform and Node-RED for rapid application development on both the device and the cloud.

To enroll select to, https://www.ibm.com/internet-of-things/learn/library/build-skills/

Reference

  1. How to Develop Applications for the Internet of Things | CIO, http://www.cio.com/article/2843814/developer/how-to-develop-applications-for-the (accessed November 04, 2016).
  2. Kim Escherich, @kescherich, “Internet of Things From hype to reality”, retrieved November 4, 2016, http://www.slideshare.net/ibmsverige/ibm-bc2015-internet-of-things-from-hype-to-reality
  3. IBM What is IoT, retrieved November 4, 2016, https://www.ibm.com/internet-of-things/learn/library/what-is-iot/