It’s hard to discuss emerging technologies without the conversation turning quickly to blockchain, and for good reason. Pilots of early use cases show that blockchain has the potential to drive profound change, with IDC projecting that 20% of organizations will have moved beyond pilot projects to operationalizing blockchain by 2020.
Blockchain – a catchall phrase for distributed ledger technology – is a new type of database system that enables multiple parties to share access to the same data, at virtually the same time, with an unprecedented level of security and confidence.
The logistics industry is a prime blockchain candidate. Global supply chains are highly complex, with diverse stakeholders, varying interests, and many third-party intermediaries. These are all challenges that blockchain is very well suited to address. Blockchain can create faster and leaner logistics, greater supply chain transparency and traceability, and commercial processes that are automated via smart contracts.
In post and parcel, blockchain can be equally powerful. For example, it could greatly simplify cross-border interactions and improve the overall coordination of logistics from origin to destination. It could streamline information management, such as the sharing of information between an agency and shippers. And, it could be the foundation for new business models and revenue generation opportunities, such as identity management services. There are numerous tangible ways for post and parcel to embrace this emerging technology.
Post and parcel organizations that experiment with blockchain today will have a significant advantage over those that don’t as blockchain moves into more mainstream use. Now is the time to experiment, learn and lay the groundwork for radically different blockchain-enabled operations in the future. I recommend three steps to get started:
- Learn by doing. Build critical skills and insights by conducting pilots. Good candidates are those activities where:
- There is a need for a shared common database
- Multiple parties are involved
- Parties have conflicting incentives and/or mistrust of each other
- There are differences in the rules that govern these parties
- There is a need for an objective, unchangeable log of records
- The rules behind the transactions rarely change
2. Understand the ecosystem by developing insight into the blockchain supply chain and associated organizations. Aligning with the right ecosystem partners is critical for end-to-end implementation of blockchain-based solutions.
3. Set a blockchain strategy that demonstrates how blockchain can help the organization achieve its vision. Building blocks of a holistic blockchain strategy include governance, culture, technology acquisition, technical skills, training and development and fit assessment (finding the right use cases).
Let me know how your blockchain pilots are progressing by leaving your comments, thoughts, and suggestions at the bottom of this blog. To learn more about how to use blockchain technology within parcel and post organizations visit us here, and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.