It seems like blockchain is everywhere you look at the moment. Analysts are talking breathlessly about its potential impact on global finance, whilst there is an ever-increasing confidence in its ability to fight cyber crime and fraud. And then of course there’s Bitcoin and the growing number of other digital currencies that are founded on the technology and its ethos. Blockchain is here to stay and this is just the beginning.
Given its potential effect upon our daily lives, blockchain is still a pretty complex issue to get your head around. But to those in the know, it represents perhaps the greatest leap forward since the advent of the internet itself.
Essentially, blockchain’s great strengths lie in its decentralized and democratic model. Access is open to all, records are transparent and unalterable and there is no central weak point that can be exploited by hackers or malware.
Supply Chains on the Blockchain
Now, taking a lead from Bitcoin and others, the rather less glamorous world of global supply chains is waking up to the possibilities presented by blockchain. At present, the processes involved in this sector frequently mimic those found in banking and finance: old, antiquated systems grind slowly along, with wastage and expenses occurring at every step.
These systems can often prove a recipe for disaster and the 2015 E.coli outbreak at Chipotle Mexican Grill is a prime example – the sheer complexity of the franchise’s supply chain made containing and managing the situation impossible. CMG’s share price has never recovered.
The bigger a company, the more complex its supply chain becomes. Goods and services flow in from across the globe and, as the chains grow in complexity, so do the stress points and opportunities for breakdown multiply.
Blockchain looks set to revolutionise this. By streamlining and opening up supply chain processes to greater accountability, potential glitches can be spotted and dealt with before they become a problem. Data will be available in real time across the chain, enabling all parties to track and monitor the movement of products and processes.
It also limits the potential fo outside interference and potential sabotage can be detected or made impossible altogether. Transparency is key here. With access open for all to see and the digital ledger that blockchain provides thus made incorruptible, the potential for errors to go unnoticed or covered up is made minimal. Suppliers will have to answer for their products’ ethical credentials and those companies which make false claims in this field will be liable to exposure.
The Blockchain Revolution
Perhaps most excitingly, blockchain represents a movement of the people and a true reflection of the internet’s underlying democratic principles. The tolerance of corporate secrecy is wearing thin and there is an increasing desire for companies to be more open and accountable about the products and services they offer. We want to know where the food on our plate has come from and rightly so.
Blockchain’s potential for business and commerce is huge. But whilst the companies that profit from us will benefit, so too will we, as their processes and supply chains become more transparent. With blockchain, everyone wins.
Featured Image via Fotolia