Blockchain & Supply Chain: Early But Promising

Supply chain professionals are talking a lot about blockchain, and how it can be applied to address the increasingly global and complex nature of the supply chain. However, we are still in early days, with only about three in ten companies actively implementing the technology, recent research suggests.

“Blockchain in supply chain and trade finance is definitely in a nascent stage,” Sherree DeCovny, co-founder and research principal at Chain Business Insights explained. About one quarter of those surveyed said they are knowledgeable about blockchain, while the rest are still at the early stages of the learning curve.

The research firm recently released a report titled Blockchain in Supply Chain: Edging Toward Higher Visibility, which benchmarks the current state of the technology. The report polled 42 supply chain professionals (an admittedly limited sample) from companies of various sizes.

Already well known in finance circles, blockchain also has the potential to add valuable supply chain transparency and traceability into the mix. “The first development projects in the supply chain domain are emerging – but as our survey underlines, there is still a long way to go before the technology gains widespread acceptance,” Peter Harris, co-founder and research principal and Chain Business Insights concluded. “In our view, capabilities such as product tracking and tracing and verifying product chain of custody will likely drive higher levels of awareness in the near to medium term.”

In the Chain Business Insight survey, respondents said improved supply chain visibility/transparency, reduced transaction costs, and enhanced trust between supply chain partners as the most valuable advantages. When asked how they thought they might use blockchain the potential applications were numerous:

Source: Chain Business Insights

Source: Chain Business Insights

“Blockchain’s ability to maintain a tamper-proof, timely record of product movements and related transactions is of huge interest to supply chain practitioners,” says Ken Cottrill, co-founder and research principal at Chain Business Insights. “It comes at a time when the industry is under intense pressure to deliver improvements in these areas.”

As real as the promise of blockchain, stumbling blocks including a lack of standards and interoperability as well as low awareness remain.

To see more of the survey results, take a look at the infographic below. Then, report the level of awareness your supply chain organization has of blockchain in the comments section below. What are the most promising uses going to be?

— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page Friend me on Facebook

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