IBM: five principles to build trust and value in blockchain
In the May edition of Supply Chain Digital, we examined blockchain’s influence on the supply chain and the opportunities that have come to the fore.
In this article, we examine IBM’s report ‘Blockchain as a force for good: Five principles to build trust and value’, and take a closer look at their blockchain principles that work.
1. Open is better - blockchain networks should harvest diverse communities of open source contributors and organisations. This will allow for open innovation as well as strengthen the overall quality of code. Wherever possible, developers should avoid proprietary technologies in favour of open source frameworks with defined approaches for sharing contributions. If done correctly, this can accelerate innovation, decrease time to maturity and reduce cost.
2. Permissioned doesn’t mean private - blockchains should be designed around the principle of permissioned and trusted access. Permissioned blockchains have an access control layer to allow certain actions to be performed only by certain identifiable participants. Most organisations require the necessity to know exactly what business they’re conducting business with as well as ensuring no illegal activity is being transacted over the network.
3. Governance is a team sport - enterprise blockchains should embrace distributed and transparent governance to enable networks to serve the requirements of participants and prevent undue concentrations of influence. Enterprises should decide on a platform that automatically provides a democratic structure hardwired into the network, with built-in privacy and ‘permissioning’ features. Rules governing who can join the blockchain network and how should be clearly described, in addition to guidelines on how participants can play key roles.
4. Common standards are common sense - enterprise blockchains should be centred around common standards with interoperability in mind. This will enable “future-proof” networks, prevent vendor lock-in and encourage a robust ecosystem of innovators. It is important that interoperability includes cloud platforms: vendors should meet participants where their data already is. With most blockchain networks currently sitting in silos, it is deemed acceptable that the technology is evolving to support a network of networks.
5. Privacy is paramount - participants on an enterprise blockchain must be able to control who can access data and under what circumstances. This is vital on a platform that distributes data widely across multiple nodes. Despite no single participant owning a blockchain network, the rights to the data that resides on it should always belong to the creator. Any APIs should extend the same permissioned access programmatically. Blockchain platforms should also abide by privacy regulations, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This means that in most cases, personal data should be kept off-chain.
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RAIN RFID, IoT and AI are key to a proactive supply chain
Across supply chains around the world, we have seen leading companies rely heavily on technologies like AI and IoT during the pandemic. These digital solutions have enabled businesses to accurately capture and ultimately use their own first-party data to drive efficiencies and protect increasingly fragile bottom lines.
However, what is less commonly known is the increasing role of RAIN RFID technology in supporting IoT solutions. By using RAIN RFID to capture item data and then feed that data into AI systems, businesses can identify inefficiencies within the supply chain and make informed decisions.
What is RAIN RFID?
In short, RAIN RFID is a powerful IoT technology that enables itemised data collection. By applying small, battery-free tags to items, organisations can identify, locate, and authenticate each of those items, scanning up to thousands of items simultaneously with a variety of devices, including hand-held, fixed and wearable readers.
RAIN RFID solutions dramatically improve the operational capabilities of an organisation by ensuring they have exactly the right items, in the right quantities, at the right locations, at the right time. During the pandemic, RAIN RFID solutions have been key to limiting disruptions in retail and manufacturing supply chains, most notably by increasing inventory and asset visibility and improving the management and flow of goods.
Three ways RAIN RFID helps solve supply chain concerns
RAIN RFID is used to streamline processes, maintain real-time inventory, increase productivity, and help manage labour shortages. We see three key ways RAIN RFID helps solve supply chain concerns:
- Automate shipment verification: Today, significant labour is required for multiple, manual barcode scans during the shipment process. RAIN RFID tags can be read automatically without a direct line of sight, erasing the need for workers to pause, locate a barcode, and scan it. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders can automate their shipment verification process and improve warehouse efficiencies by up to 25%.
- Deliver real-time visibility: Retail Systems Research says that 76% of supply chain survey respondents reported that real-time inventory visibility was their leading focus for improving performance. When supply chain managers lack information about the status of assets and shipments moving into and out of warehouses, confidence and productivity suffer. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders gain real-time visibility into an item’s identity, usage, and location. With this information, they can quickly find inventory and assets, and reduce the cost of asset investments.
- Improve order accuracy: Today, companies rely on redundant manual checks to verify that the right cartons are loaded onto the correct pallets. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders can automate pallet build verification to streamline the process and increase order accuracy. In fact, a recent study by Auburn University found that RAIN RFID can help an organisation achieve up to 100% order accuracy, eliminating claims costs and unhappy customers.
RAIN RFID can increase value of AI-powered analytics
In today’s AI-driven, rapid decision-making business environment, RAIN RFID is uniquely capable of making systems more effective. This is because it provides item identifiers for tracking and locating billions of items, from clothing to food, pharmaceuticals, tools, packages, pallets, and more.
It also works without line-of-sight, providing visibility into places and processes not previously available. The data provided by a RAIN RFID system can give AI-powered solutions the ability to see individual items throughout the supply chain, understand how the entire supply chain is functioning and identify which areas can be improved.
As companies accelerate digital transformation, we expect to see a rise in interconnected data as investments into new technologies and IoT surge. But as the volume of real-time and accurate data about the movement of goods rises, so too do the demands on operations teams to make sound business decisions quickly and with confidence, often using AI-powered systems that thrive on improved data to make better decisions.
As an example, over the past several years, Delta Airlines transformed its customer experience by investing in technology including real-time RAIN RFID bag tracking and automatic check-in via the Fly Delta mobile app. Delta is now leveraging this set of investments in their implementation of an AI-driven platform that analyses millions of operational data points, from luggage movement to aircraft positions to flight crew restrictions to airport conditions. This system simulates operating challenges and creates hypothetical scenarios that help Delta’s professionals make critical operational decisions that improve the overall customer experience.
The need to drive digital transformation rapidly during the pandemic has made supply chain and logistics professionals increasingly tech savvy. As we prepare for a post-pandemic era, companies’ increased know-how and awareness of solutions like RAIN RFID, IoT and AI will play a key role in evolving the industry’s approach to solving supply chain issues from reactive to proactive, setting them up for future success.