In modern supply chains, communication and collaboration are everything. Systems that work together can ensure that all parties in the supply chain have access to the information and resources necessary to fulfill more orders and please customers. The introduction of blockchain technology is no different from traditional upgrades to supply chain management systems. Blockchain integration is the cornerstone to all potential applications of blockchain in modern supply chains. As a result, shippers need to understand a few things about integrating blockchain with other supply chain systems.
Challenges of Integrating Blockchain and Supply Chain Systems
There are some challenges to integrating blockchain with existing supply chain systems as there are when introducing any new technology to the mix. These challenges may include company education, change management, and a general resistance to new technologies. However, the most significant hurdle to implementing and integrating blockchain with your existing system is the general lack of technology present in the industry today.
Blockchain platforms do exist, but they are heavily company-specific. In other words, each company has taken the time to develop and create individual blockchain platforms but they are specific to their needs only. For blockchain technology to be genuinely useful in modern supply chains, it must evolve from a company-specific platform to an all-inclusive system that can seamlessly collect and share information among multiple supply chain companies, including competitors. This all-inclusive system is what ShipChain is currently building.
Expertise and a Strong Understanding of Blockchain are Key
The primary challenge to integrating blockchain with existing systems is the limited pool of blockchain applications available on the market. Today, it can be difficult to understand how blockchain is going to make a massive splash in global supply chains. To understand this concept better, consider how ShipChain is working on developing a state-of-the-art blockchain-based platform.
ShipChain’s platform will allow for communications between all parties, including rival parties. Although it may seem like a conflict of interest, the platform can integrate with existing systems so the individual blockchain for a given company will only show the information necessary to maintain its own operations. As a result, competitive advantage is retained and companies can reap the cost savings and additional benefits of integrating blockchain with their existing technologies. It is essential to work with an expert in the field of blockchain and supply chain management, such as ShipChain, to gain a competitive advantage and reduce supply chain costs.
Tips for Integrating Blockchain with Supply Chain Systems
Although blockchain supply chain systems are in their infancy, shippers and supply chain managers can help streamline the process by understanding and adopting a few best practices for integrating various systems. These systems may include warehouse management systems, a transportation management system, order management system, or other cloud-based systems. The opportunities for improvement and ways in which systems can integrate are limitless, so it is best to follow a few tips according to Industry Week, including:
- Integrating all existing systems. This is essential to success. All current systems, ranging from warehouse management to transportation management, must be integrated with blockchain technology. This incorruptible resource is only as valuable as its weakest link, so any misstep in integration will cause problems.
- Taking advantage of big data for refinement of systems. Continuous improvement enables organizations to see weaknesses and strengths. Ongoing analysis of operations and refinement of processes allows for better use and application of blockchain technologies. This is part of what ShipChain is currently doing — working on how integrating blockchain can be streamlined and simplified.
- Taking advantage of new connected technologies and resources for data collection. Smart technologies and network resources, like the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart sensors, can be used to track freight at any stage of its journey and such information can be passed along automatically via the industrial IoT.
Streamline Integration by Partnering with a Blockchain Expert
As with every innovation in supply chain management, blockchain carries some risk. It may be difficult to implement and it will take some time to train your team members on how to use the technology. However, the challenges of implementing blockchain are well worth it; integrating blockchain with newer, advanced, or even existing systems has the potential to transform your operation from an exhausting and chaotic process to a near fully automated paragon of efficiency.
ShipChain has developed an easy-to-integrate blockchain solution and platform for the shipping and logistics industry. So instead of trying to sort through all the noise yourself, let us do the rest. Request a demo of our Track and Trace platform to learn more.