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How IT and Digital Leaders in Supply Chain Management Can Embrace Blockchain in 2024

How IT and digital leaders in supply chain management can embrace blockchain in 2024

First published on CIOReview, 13 Feb 2024

45% of supply chain leaders only have visibility to their first-tier suppliers or no visibility at all. What’s the solution?

However, for supply chain leaders who have yet to experiment with blockchain, there are still some big steps to take to realize blockchain's full potential. In our "State of Blockchain Transformation: Supply Chain" report, IT leaders already experimenting with blockchain gave their advice on how to find success with blockchain initiatives. Here are six actionable takeaways that you can start applying today to jumpstart your Blockchain Transformation.


 1. Understand the Competitive Advantage of Blockchain

 In our past few reports now, we've found that respondents who believe that blockchain offers their organization a competitive advantage show greater success with blockchain overall. They were more likely to experiment with blockchain, saw more projects move to production, had more “Blockchain Believers” in leadership, and were more likely to continue to invest in blockchain projects going forward.

 It's a simple concept — buy-in to a new technology precedes experimentation and usage — but it's an important concept to understand, especially with blockchain. Blockchain is no longer just a buzzword and is actively transforming operations across a variety of industries, yet many business leaders still write it off as a fad. So, the first step in your Blockchain Transformation needs to be exploring blockchain technology and the benefits it can offer your organization.

 ​Blockchain is a consensus-based, distributed ledger technology that records data into immutable, tamper-resistant "blocks" that string together to create a record of activities

How can blockchain give you a competitive advantage? Blockchain is a consensus-based, distributed ledger technology that records data into immutable, tamper-resistant "blocks" that string together to create a record of activities. In supply chains, one of the biggest challenges is gaining transparency into where your goods are coming from and where they're going. By using blockchain, every touchpoint is entered into the record, so companies can gain a clear view of their product’s journey.

Several benefits to this include increased security, transparency, more supply chain resilience, better reporting, real-time tracking, protection against counterfeiting, scalability, increased trust and confidence, and much more.

2. Evaluate and Choose Your Use Cases

Once you've learned more about blockchain's benefits and its potential to create a competitive advantage for your company, now it's time to investigate the supply chain use cases where you can leverage blockchain. Those already experimenting with blockchain in their supply chain say they see the most transformational potential in the following:

  • More accurate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting and monitoring

  • Data sharing and interoperability across the supply chain

  • Streamlined payments across supply chains and borders

  • Real-time tracking and IoT integration

  • Provenance tracking that shows the journey of a product from the source

  • Demonstrable quality assurance and compliance

3. Invest in In-House Education and Technology

 Another challenge for those experimenting with blockchain is technical know-how. The next step is to increase that technical knowledge internally through education and training, as well as investing in the right tools and technology to decrease those barriers to entry.

 Having team members who are knowledgeable about blockchain will be one of the foundations of blockchain success. However, demand for blockchain programming skills grew 552% in 2022, meaning that outsourcing development may be expensive. Instead, focus on upskilling and educating your in-house teams on blockchain. Turn to blockchain vendors and partners to help with this training, as well as any blockchain champions.

 Additionally, adopting the right Blockchain Transformation Platform can get you to launch faster, even with limited expertise. These cost-effective platforms that feature various templates, customizable smart contract libraries, and integration assistance abstract much of the complexity so that even minimally experienced developers can start creating blockchain projects.

4. Increase Buy-In and Demonstrate ROI

 One hurdle often cited by respondents is a lack of budget, whether it be getting projects off the ground or sustaining ongoing blockchain experimentation and initiatives. Investments stem from leadership buy-in and seeing how new technologies will create that competitive advantage, save costs, or increase revenue.

 The best way to do this is to measure the ROI of your blockchain projects and communicate that ROI to leadership. There are many different ways to measure and quantify that ROI, starting with cost savings across the life of the blockchain application. Look at ways that blockchain will create efficiencies internally as well as across the supply chain, leading to decreased expenses — for example, blockchain technology can reduce operational costs by an average of 30%. Look at how your blockchain projects will increase revenue on the customer side as well, as being able to prove locally-sourced goods or sustainable practices may increase customer trust and purchases.

5. Experiment, Test, and Prototype

Finally, in our report, respondents said that one of the ways they believe they could increase their blockchain success in the future is through real-world testing and prototyping. One way to do this is to employ design thinking so you can be sure you’re launching a relevant project.

Design thinking uncovers the pain points in the market today — like a lack of transparency across the supply chain. Take what you learn and begin building prototypes of your blockchain project that you can then test on those operations and systems. Ultimately, your industry research, prototyping, and testing will ensure that you go to market with a product that solves your supply chain pain points, aligns with your business goals and objectives, and has the potential for high ROI.

A Streamlined Supply Chain in 2024

Blockchain technology is a major solution for supply chain management, but only if supply chain leaders adopt it and turn it into valuable projects. Start by understanding how blockchain can benefit your supply chain, pick your use cases, increase your in-house knowledge and technology, measure and articulate ROI for better budgets, and experiment. Let blockchain be the solution that streamlines your supply chain in 2024.

Stay in the loop with Chief Digital Heroes! Join me, Matthew, in engaging conversations with industry leaders leveraging Blockchain Transformation to fast-track value creation in banking and finance. Dive into these illuminating discussions, where my guests and I share valuable insights gained while navigating complexity and capitalizing on the opportunities unleashed by blockchain. Subscribe now for a firsthand look at the lessons we've learned on this transformative journey.

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