The Supply Chain Doesn’t Need Disruption


Several blockchain startups aiming at the supply chain have hatched during the last 6 months, and if each of them look very promising -and fantastic at pioneering blockchain technologies- they are missing a key point about their market: the supply chain is a very large ecosystem already fragmented by scores of competing, segregated solutions.

Digital approaches aren’t new, and several veteran companies in that industry are still seeing this fragmentation as a major challenge. Specific yet tightly interwoven services, regulations and SOPs guarantee that ten new problems arise as soon as one procedure gets disrupted.

How then can we make disruption happen when tens of thousands service providers, among them major financial organisations, each foster individual work standards and habits and each face different problems?

Simply put: do not disrupt.

Beyond addressing end-to-end processes, a digital supply chain will be made possible by the conservation of existing work habits, and the gentle transition towards towards reliable digital identities, documents and transactions, which constitute the root of logistic and trade workflows.

Optimising supply chain transactions implies rethinking the way we build solutions: if ‘an app to rule them all’ is generally a healthy vision, ‘a platform to let them all communicate better’ is a much better fit to the fragmentation challenge.

This approach is already made possible by the blockchain. Prone to matching exigent compliance requirements, API driven blockchain 2.0 platforms have proven solid enough to enable the implementation of discrete and semi-discrete applications. These application can work together with existing systems, and deliver the right amount of data normalization and privacy management to be used both internally and between organizations.

That said, one last hurdle stands in the way: paper.
Paper remains the great divider and, together with compliance requirement, prevents the adoption of all-digital platforms, isolating non-members and preventing data from traveling back upstream.

After a year of research and the help of several leading institutions, OTDocs, using a fork of the Ntx blockchain technology, has become a platform which includes all the needed features to process identities, documents and transactions, together with solutions to link digital data to their physical counterpart, and vice-versa.

Embracing the ecosystem aspect of the supply chain, OTDocs has already developed solutions to support processes as diverse as bill of lading, L/C and SWIFT message handling in a way that keeps the current connection between parties instead of excluding non users.

Further than demonstrating the “doability” of a non-disruptive stance, OTDocs is open source and will soon allow the use of their API, since the participation of experienced 3rd parties is key to include current work habit in the transition towards a digital supply chain.

Thanks to Jean-Daniel Gauthier for your help in putting together this post.

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