Gartner: blockchain initiatives to pilot until 2022
The research and advisory firm has revealed that one of the biggest reasons for the development is that early blockchain pilots for supply chain pursued technology-orientated models have been successful in other sectors, such as banking and insurance.
“Modern supply chains are very complex and require digital connectivity and agility across participants,” commented Andrew Stevens, senior director analyst with Gartner Supply Chain practice. “Many organisations believed that blockchain could help navigate this complexity and pushed to create robust use cases for the supply chain. However, most of these use cases were inspired by pilots from the banking and insurance sector and didn’t work well in a supply chain environment.”
It is thought that blockchain use cases require an alternative approach for supply chain than other sectors, and shouldn’t discourage supply chain leaders from experimenting with blockchain.
With technology having an increasing influence over how firms operate their supply chains, a technology-first approach that targets blockchain infrastructure was the initial idea for use cases in supply chain, replicating the approach of the banking and insurance industry. However, in comparison with the highly digital-only fintech blockchain use cases, many supply chains will need to capture events and data across physical products, packaging layers and transportation assets. It’s important that supply chain leaders understand how these events can be digitalised for sharing across a potential blockchain-enabled ecosystem of stakeholders.
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Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.