Large corporations have given more credence to blockchain technology over the last few years, rolling out systems to track food products like leafy greens and beef. Blockchain’s effectiveness doesn’t stop at the dinner table either; there are several potential use cases for pharmaceuticals, fashion and basically all iterations of international commerce.
“Increasingly, consumers are going to want to have full transparency for the products we buy and the food we consume,” said Dale Chrystie, Business Fellow, Blockchain Strategist at FedEx and Chairman of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance Standards Council Board. “Blockchain is not mature or scalable yet, but it will be. If your business model has you sitting between supply and demand, this technology can disrupt your business. You want to be early to the discussion.”
While any increase in traceability is a step toward verifiable authenticity and improved safety standards, some of the earliest projects deployed have been built on a foundation of private networks and non-disclosure agreements, leading to an atmosphere of unknowing and competition.
In order for blockchain to continue to scale and gain implementation across industries, leaders must work together to foster a spirit of cooperation – or as Chrystie calls it, “coopetition.”
The issue of cooperation versus competition came up several times during this week’s BiTA Symposium @HOME. This was the first component in a three-part event that was converted to a virtual format due to coronavirus concerns, but that did not slow down the conversation.
Participants included regulators, non-government organizations (NGOs), blockchain-specific organizations and major corporations. All agreed that the advancement of blockchain depends on cooperation and collaboration. Making networks open and public is one part of that, but leaders also emphasized inviting consumers and regulators to the table in meaningful ways.
Incentives inspire engagement
During her presentation, Blockchain Research Institute Managing Director Hilary Carter talked about the importance of offering incentives to citizens, municipalities and governments when attempting to integrate blockchain into everyday life.
Every player – people, the planet and technological advancement – benefits when blockchain is used to facilitate rewards for things like exercising, recycling and ride-sharing. When used strategically, these relationships can also lead to economic progress, according to Carter.
“Blockchain is the mechanism that can help drive everyone’s intentions forward in a very constructive way,” Carter said.
Collaboration reinforces business success
Nadia Hewett, lead for blockchain and distributed ledger projects at the World Economic Forum, talked about using blockchain in a holistic and collaborative manner in order to further business interests and spur economic growth.
Blockchain should be viewed as one piece of a larger business strategy, not the entire strategy itself, according to Hewett. She encouraged those using blockchain in their business to take a focused approach and only integrate solutions that solve their specific problems.
Hewett also emphasized the importance of pursuing education and welcoming regulators into the conversation. WEF recently published new research, “Redesigning Trust: Blockchain Development Toolkit.” In it, more than 100 blockchain stakeholders and 60 public- and private-sector entities shared insights on blockchain deployment with a supply chain focus.
The second part of the BiTA Symposium @Home series will be on June 10. BiTA member companies, including Salesforce, DLT Labs, Pitney Bowes, Chainyard and others will present on how they are leveraging blockchain technology for supply chain and transportation applications.The event is open to the public for the very first time.