Traceability DOES need Blockchain

14 June, 2021

Blockchain-based traceability in the business sector

At Block Impulsewe have been visiting forums, talks, meetups, me, Carlos Callejo, for a long time communities and enthusiasts of this technology thanks to Valladolid Blockchain.

A few days ago I participated as a speaker at the National Blockchain Forum held in my city, Valladolid, where once again all kinds of speakers (of the highest level) were invited to talk about the ecosystem focused on SMEs and entrepreneurs. As usual, the case of traceability, supply chain, value chain … And offering the vision that blockchain is not necessary for this use case, came to light in almost all the interventions.

We are going to remove the aura from Bockchain and we are going to land the day by day, the company, on any production Tuesday (it is missed in many days on technology, real cases, working). The following points we speak in a generic way.

  1. The blockchain philosophy of decentralizing information and transparency of your data in a public blockchain is not what the company seeks in most cases. The use of a permissioned blockchain is what the current company is looking for.
  2. A good blockchain advisor-consultant with technical knowledge (which is in short supply) is essential as in any change in life. Use a mediocre lawyer in a tax problem for example.
  3. What they make us believe that the important thing here is that the consumer with his smartphone reads a QR code and the supply chain is created lacks truth in many cases. It is a point not to be overlooked but not the main one.
  4. The importance of evaluating on a case-by-case basis. We have more and more options, as a company, of “plugging in” to a network to validate our processes, of standardizing the steps when each company is a world. Any means of transport to go to work is worth it? Some will use a Corsa, others a BMW, others a motorcycle, or perhaps a bus and others will ride a bike. It all depends on the possibilities of each one and what the product allows you. It is very important to study each case and create a tailored suit. Two wineries make wine and their process is very different from the other.
  5. Standardize all the management software of the different participants, ERPs, CRMs, and put a layer on top that is readable by everyone, in real time (I emphasize) and in case of scaling the project join other blockchains that give us added value, for example .
  6. Digitization in medium / small companies in Spain is very scarce compared to other countries. We cannot run before we walk.
  7. The culture of the country. I hope not to bother anyone but we are a slightly critical country (in blockchain I do not tell you, all projects are bad). If the neighbor Pepe buys a car instead of congratulating him and being happy for him, we like to think that he has mortgaged himself up to his eyebrows or has obtained it with illegal money. And, we have a very high point of picaresque that we will refer to later.

With these steps, there will be more, I do not consider myself an expert, but I do consider myself a person who lives it daily, we get the rods for the following reflection:

The company that wants to incorporate blockchain into its supply chain, the first thing to do is to be well advised and go where this technology is very powerful, in automating processes, logics, saving time and costs of the current system. If a custom case is created taking into account the work of the employees, the ERPs / CRMs or Management Software used, their deficiencies are sure that in many cases we achieve the usefulness of this tool. In addition, this technology together with IoT systems becomes much more robust, faster, more difficult to fail. If we conceptualize everything well, we will achieve better returns, have a real-time history of all the processes of the chain / participants … and all the benefits of blockchain. Through smart contracts we reach a new dimension in what has been described above (programmable automation) and if we already introduce more agents to this chain that interfere in the chain, we already have a very well tuned orchestra with its own protocol of action. One of the thanks is in the immutability of the information, the audit of a third party or giving access (as it suits you) to add value to the end user of any or all of the processes (we are still talking about the permissible chain).

You cannot get an idea of ​​how the companies are digitized, some still using the EXCEL ´97, connected in a Manolo way, that is, manually with some ERP with a very cool photo that they sold for tens of thousands of euros For a few years it has been totally inefficient for its daily work, the connection with suppliers totally beyond its control… And we are talking about companies, in many cases, that invoice millions of euros.

Many speak that notaries, certifiers, regulatory bodies, designations of origin … are going to cease to exist. Nothing is further than reality, at least for now. This technology makes your work much easier.

We always think about the agri-food system, but traceability can be documentary, an industrial process, a medical record, safeguarding the protection of patient data …

In the latter case, an example, if we manage to automate the information that a doctor has to record in his day to day in front of a computer and we achieve that he spends 70% of that time evaluating patients assuming that these systems, connected machines, will register the information in a blockchain of the company’s domain, limiting the error to 0 and immutable, would it really not be beneficial?

Even that in the face of a medical problem, the company can have the record that 10 years ago that doctor prescribed something that he did not owe to X patient, and that a judge can verify that data in court?

The examples are as many as the imagination of each one, and this is already working.

If you skip all of the above, as a company you adhere to an already created network where you enter 3 data agreed by means of a generic API that registers the values ​​with no type of control or rigor and instead of paying a customized solution you pay less due to the transactions created, because in the end as a company it will not provide you with any type of value (except the mediatic one of putting “we are working with blockchain” each one is free) and your brand image for the consumer will not offer either nothing new to trust.

Usually cheap is expensive, and bread for today hungry for tomorrow.

There are several edges, nothing in life is perfect, of course. The main “complaint” is …

Is that the data they offer you can be altered from the beginning …

Is that the focus of the company is to use technology for its internal supply chain process and have control of its product in real time that it has never had before, not that you as a consumer know what blockchain is about, which is a block and because it is so wonderful. Everything will come but it is not the focus at the moment. On the other hand, if the company itself actually uses it, is it going to lie in its own processes?

You are not really interested in knowing if your carrier or subcontracted company keeps the cold chain and your product arrives in the right way and where it should arrive and for what you are paying? And if you penalize that company automatically if it does not comply? And if she does, why not make the payment instantly and leave poor Miriam alone and use her to perform her duties. Are you not interested in being more competitive in terms of innovation than the competition? Etc etc etc…

We are fortunate that in this short time we have several projects underway in LATAM, and there the companies pay attention to the quality of their processes and to attest to good conduct to the competent bodies for the entry into their product in Europe or the United States. .

Blockchain, like any technology, is not perfect and less so if it is implemented where it does not make sense, but it offers innovative possibilities that many companies are already benefiting from.

And, as a colleague, Ismael Arribas from Alastria, has said in the forum itself, it is very important to touch and embrace technology.

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