How Blockchain is transforming the Supply Chain – IBM

Blockchain seems to be the flavor of the month right now. Only in the last week, I had three discussions with my clients about how Blockchain technology could be applied in their existing Supply Chain.

It is a matter of fact that this technology will soon revolutionise the market and clients are starting to explore what Blockchain really is and how this will impact and potentially benefit their business.

I see that there is a lot of confusion around this topic. I think it’s good to first understand what Blockchain is.

What is Blockchain?

A Blockchain is a shared ledger distributed across a business network. Business transactions are permanently recorded in append-only blocks to the ledger. All the consensually confirmed and validated transaction blocks are linked from the first block to the most current block with each block linked to its previous block using the cryptographic hash of the previous block – hence the name Blockchain.

Using Blockchain virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded, without requiring a central point of control.

How Blockchain can enhance your Supply Chain?

Now that we understood the general concept of Blockchain, we can discuss how this can be applied to a Supply Chain model.

When you put Blockchain into the supply chain context, everybody works with different levels of sophistication. Try now to imagine your network with a core technology that supports each of the operators, where everything is visible to everybody at the same level and operates at the same level of maturity. There is no central control and everybody is an equal peer.

Blockchain provides a more transparent, secure way to conduct business through networks of trusted data.

IBM point of view on Blockchain

IBM believes that Blockchain in its’s many forms will transform industries and ecosystems. It is a huge deal that will drive industries and totally disrupt the ways business is conducted in a short period of time.

IBM has invested more than any other company in Blockchain, and it is a key stakeholder in this growing industry.

We built our own secure IBM Blockchain Platform on Cloud with developer services and production grade capabilities to enable the creation and management of Blockchain business networks. It is the only fully integrated enterprise-ready blockchain platform designed to accelerate the development, governance, and operation of a multi-institution business network.

IBM is currently engaged with several organisations in different industries developing some level of proof of concept and bringing awareness of the power of Blockchain in various areas.

With regards to Supply Chain, IBM has already run a number of pilot projects to demonstrate how its Blockchain platform can improve key supply chain areas like:

  • Food Safety & Traceability
  • Global Trade & Supply Chain Visibility
  • Trade Promotions Management
  • Provenance and Anti-Counterfeiting

Clients who partnered with us include Maersk, Walmart and other 10 food producers and retailers of the likes of Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods and Unilever.

Example of Use Case – Food Safety and Traceability – Walmart

Food safety is a very sensitive topic, especially after the recent scandal around rotten and salmonella-tainted meats from Brazil.

IBM, Walmart and Tsinghua University announced a collaboration to improve the way food is tracked, transported and sold to consumers across China.


Effectively, Walmart is now able to track their goods in a few seconds using Blockchain from the farms to their retail stores.

The question for YOU now is..

“How long does it usually take to check and understand where a certain product comes from?”

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