A Blockchain of Data for Revolutionizing Supply Chain Management

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Click to learn more about author Rudy Brathwaite.

Data conceals as much as it reveals. That is, information alone clarifies little or nothing unless you can see everything with clarity. It is not enough to believe what you see, but to know what you see is true. The only way to know such a thing is to make it impossible to hide even a single thing. Nowhere is this point more timely than it is regarding the world of Supply Chain Management.

It is a world with many redundancies and redactions. It is a world with too few facts and too much fiction. How, then, can a company do business if it cannot access all the data it needs whenever it wants it? How can a business simplify and strengthen the supply chain without chaining itself to the status quo?

The answer is to upend the chain of command by making the Blockchain an end unto itself. The answer is a Blockchain-integrated solution, where transparency is total and accountability is absolute. The answer is in fact a series of answers involving the tracking of goods and services, thanks to superior oversight and outstanding security. The answers include an immutable record of every transaction and real-time intelligence about the distribution and delivery of every finished product.

At the same time, I do not mean to suggest data has not transformed Supply Chain Management, because it has. But the ability to revitalize something is less powerful than the freedom to revolutionize everything. Or, to return to my metaphor about all things visual, think of this distinction as the difference between a cloudy sky and a clear blue one. Sunlight may possibly penetrate the puffs of white and gray, but it will definitely shine without them.

Sunlight is also, in the words of the late Justice Louis Brandeis, the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. Brandeis issued that statement about transparency, as it was—and still is—the source of truth. If you apply his rule to business, and make allowances for changes in technology, Brandeis’s comment is a good motto for how to use data and how to make good use of the Blockchain.

By this standard, data can determine the future of commerce and the viability of any commercial endeavor. So long as we standardize the Blockchain, and popularize it until it becomes the platform of first resort, transparency will foster trust. It will enable us to verify what or whom we trust, too.

When data disguises nothing, and when no one can distort even the smallest amount of data, we will have a global economy of greater depth and breadth. In turn, the supply chain will narrow without narrowing the options of entrepreneurs. Indeed, opportunities will expand and businesses of all sizes will be free to flourish.

Let us embrace this union of technology and data, where supplies flow more quickly and the supply chain is part of the Blockchain. Let us celebrate the triumph of data, courtesy of a new era of total transparency.


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