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Why Blockchain Must Be Part Of Supply Chain’s Future

Kirsten Lubritz

Several industries are already embracing the benefits of blockchain. The finance industry uses it to monitor the exchange of stocks and bitcoin. The public sector uses it to eliminate voter fraud and confirm digital identities.

But what is blockchain? And how can supply chain organizations begin using it to their advantage?

Breaking down blockchain

The seeds of blockchain were sown more than 25 years ago – more as a concept than anything else.

Since then, the technology has blossomed and evolved into an actual tool, composed of a chain of data containers used to track and store transactions.

In blockchain, a new transaction creates a new block in a particular chain. Because this information is updated in real time and stored in decentralized databases, participants retain complete access to their transactions on their very own IT premises. Additionally, any changes must be confirmed by all other blockchain members, which makes unauthorized uses practically impossible.

The benefits of this are obvious: Companies and individuals can forge new business relationships without actually knowing one another – as all transactions are clearly visible and easy to monitor.

While many supply chain organizations have remained in the piloting stage of blockchain adoption, the time has come for them to finally begin embracing this transformative technology.

How blockchain could revolutionize supply chain

A recent article on Business Insider suggests that blockchain could revolutionize supply chain, and it’s easy to see why.

For one, blockchain can help supply chain organizations to improve visibility and traceability. In the event of a recall, for instance, products can easily be identified and pulled from store shelves, helping companies to save costs and avoid future liability issues.

Blockchain can also help to build trust among buyers, generating new business and improving customer satisfaction. One pharmaceutical company is leveraging the technology to assure patients and physicians that certain medications are authentic.

Gain – and share – a picture of your whole supply chain

Moving a product from supplier to customer requires people, resources, knowledge, processes, and financial transactions. It’s complicated to display the full picture of a large supply chain system to everyone involved. Information is distributed to various people at various times, and this data is typically stored in multiple locations. Moreover, participants usually have only partial access to the overall information. Blockchains could resolve these transparency and traceability issues.

By using blockchains, any information relevant to that particular supply chain will be captured along the way, and it will be made accessible to all parties involved:

  • Pallets, trailers, and containers can be tracked as they move between supply chain nodes using RFID for asset allocation.
  • Purchase orders, change orders, receipts, shipment notifications, or other trade-related documents can serve as blockchain items to increase fraud protection.
  • Certifications or certain properties of physical products can be stored as blockchain items to ensure the products comply with quality standards.
  • Information about manufacturing processes, including assembly, delivery, and maintenance, can be shared with suppliers and vendors.

5 blockchain benefits your supply chain enterprise simply can’t ignore

As I see it, there are five key benefits that blockchain can provide to your supply chain organization:

  1. Transparency: As documents are separated from the physical flow of the product and taken out of the hands of supply chain parties into a “neutral” zone, the supply chain reveals its true origin and touchpoints. This increases trust and helps eliminate the bias found in today’s supply chains. According to a 2014 Deloitte University Press publication, “supply chain transparency is critical for managing rising levels of risk in an environment where corporate supply chain practices are attracting increasing legal, regulatory, and consumer scrutiny.”
  1. Scalability: Normally, a rising number of supply chain participants would increase the complexity of supply chain management. That’s no longer the case. With blockchain technology, you can add any number of participants and touchpoints, and managing the supply chain will be as simple as ever.
  1. Growth: Companies in supply chain that adopt blockchain at an early stage can generate significant competitive advantages over other players. By gaining greater insight and visibility into your operations, your organization will be better prepared to deal with unforeseen challenges and provide superior consumer experiences.
  1. Security: Using blockchain as a shared ledger with clear rules could potentially eliminate audits required to document adherence to internal and external quality standards. Digitizing your assets with blockchain could also help your organization protect itself from theft.
  1. Innovation: Opportunities abound to create new specialized uses for technology as a result of the decentralized architecture of blockchain. There’s no limit to what your organization can enhance, whether it’s your production processes or delivery capabilities.

Don’t delay: Embrace blockchain today

Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that can transform many existing traditional processes into more secure, transparent, and collaborative systems. With the myriad ways it can benefit your enterprise, it’s high time to begin making blockchain a part of your supply chain organization’s future today.

To learn more about blockchain, read the latest Forbes Insights Briefing Report: Transforming Transaction Processing for the Digital Economy or visit us at SAP.com to see how we’re innovating in supply chain.

 

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Kirsten Lubritz

About Kirsten Lubritz

Kirsten Lubritz is a senior supply chain solution specialist at SAP. She focuses on the project management topic within the field of supply chain, specifically around transportation management, warehouse management, and track and trace. She has a MBA in Economics from Universität des Saarlandes and is based in Walldorf, Germany.

21 Facts On Supply Networks In The Digital Economy

Peter Johnson

Part 6 of the six-part blog series “Facts on the Future of Business

Innovation in the business world is accelerating exponentially, with new disruptive technologies and trends emerging that are fundamentally changing how businesses and the global economy operate. To adapt, thrive, and innovate, we all need to be aware of these evolutionary technologies and trends and understand the opportunities or threats they might present to our organizations, our careers, and society on a whole.

With this in mind, I recently had the opportunity to compile 99 Facts on the Future of Business in the Digital Economy. This presentation includes facts, predictions, and research findings on some of the most impactful technologies and trends that are driving the future of business in the Digital Economy.

To help you more easily find facts for specific topics, I have grouped the facts into six subsets. Below is the sixth of these:

 

New value opportunities

Digital supply chains can reduce supply chain process costs by 50%, reduce procurement costs by 20%, and increase revenue by 10%.

Source: “Digital Supply Chains: A Frontside Flip,” The Center for Global Enterprise.

Companies with 50% or more of their revenues from digital ecosystems achieve 32% higher revenue growth and 27% higher profit margins.

Source: “Thriving in an Increasingly Digital Ecosystem,” MIT Sloan Management Review.

During their operation, the NASA space shuttles cost $60,000 per kilogram to get their payload into low Earth orbit.

Source: “Back to the Moon – Getting There Faster for Less,” National Space Society.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy will cost an estimated $447 per kilogram to get its payload into low Earth orbit.

Source: “Increasing the Profit Ratio,” The Space Review.

 

Platforms

82% of executives believe platforms will be the glue that brings organizations together in the digital economy. The top 15 public platforms already have a market capitalization of $2.6 trillion.

Source: “Accenture Technology Vision 2016,” Accenture.

By 2020, over 80% of the G500 will be digital services suppliers through Industry Collaborative Cloud (ICC) platforms.

Source: “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2017 Predictions,” IDC Research Inc.

The world’s biggest banks have taken the first steps to moving onto blockchains, the technology introduced to the world by the virtual currency bitcoin.

Source: “Wall Street Clearinghouse to Adopt Bitcoin Technology,” The New York Times.

By 2027, blockchains could store as much as 10% of global GDP.

Source: “Making The Next Moves With Blockchain,” D!gitalist Magazine.

Africa is leapfrogging the developed world’s traditional banking systems through fast adoption of mobile and Internet-based technology, and is poised to take advantage of the disruptive opportunity that blockchains offer.

Source: “The Blockchain Opportunity, How Crypto-currencies and Tokens Could Scale Disruptive Solutions Across Africa,” BitHub.Africa.

Car sharing could reduce the number of cars needed by 90% in 2035, resulting in only 17% as many cars as there are today.

Source: “Self-Driving Cars Are a Disaster for the Car Industry, but Great for the Rest of Us,” Seeking Alpha.

Millennials are more than twice as willing to car-share as Generation Xers, and five times more likely than baby boomers.

Source: “Cars 2025,” Goldman Sachs.

Airbnb usage is projected to grow 1,165% by 2025, reaching one billion “room nights.” Key growth factors include Airbnb’s high levels of repeat customers, and significant word of mouth, as more than 80% of customers are likely to recommend Airbnb to friends.

Source: “One Wall Street Firm Expects Airbnb to Book a Billion Nights a Year Within a Decade,” Bloomberg.

Once fully available, 5G data speeds will be 1,000-times faster than today. This revolutionary leap will enable ubiquitous connections across the Internet of Things, engagement across virtual environments with only millisecond latency, and whole new Big Data applications and services.

Source: “2017 Predictions: Behind the Scenes with 5G – 2017 Lays Groundwork for Telecom Revolution,” Canadian Wireless Trade Show.

 

Automation and circumventing technologies

Self-driving trucks are hauling iron ore in Australia, convoying across Europe, and appearing on roadways across the globe. And because they offer business savings, self-driving trucks are expected to be more rapidly adopted than self-driving cars.

Source: “Self-Driving Trucks: What’s the Future for America’s 3.5 Million Truckers?” The Guardian.

Amazon uses 30,000 Kiva robots in its global warehouses, which reduces operating expenses by approximately 20%. Bringing robots to its distribution centers that have not yet implemented them, would save Amazon a further $2.5 billion.

Source: “How Amazon Triggered a Robot Arms Race,” Bloomberg Technology.

88% of U.S. consumers say free shipping makes them more likely to shop online, and 79% would select drones as a delivery option if it meant they could receive packages within an hour.

Source: “Reinventing Retail: What Businesses Need to Know for 2016 Whitepaper,” Walker Sands Communications.

Taxi drones will start flying passengers in Dubai in July 2017. Passengers will select destinations on a touch screen and will be able to travel up to 30 minutes at a top speed of around 100 kph.

Source: “Taxi Drones Set for July Launch of Passenger Service Over Dubai,” RT News.

Only 13% of U.S. and Canadian manufacturing jobs recently lost were lost due to international trade. 85% of the job losses stemmed from productivity growth — another way of saying machines replaced human workers.

Source: “Industrial Robots Will Replace Manufacturing Jobs — and That’s a Good Thing,” TechCrunch.

The European Union is proposing new laws that require robots to be equipped with emergency “kill switches” and to be programmed in accordance to Isaac Asimov’s “laws of robotics,” stipulating that robots must never harm a human.

Source: “Europe Calls for Mandatory ‘Kill Switches’ on Robots,” CNN.

By 2030, 25% of Dubai’s buildings will be 3D-printed.

Source: “25% of Dubai’s Buildings Will Be 3D Printed by 2030: Mohammed,” Emirates24|7.

Patients dying while waiting for an organ donor could soon be a thing of the past. By 2030, organs will be biologically 3D-printed on demand.

Source: “Healthcare in 2030: Goodbye Hospital, Hello Home-Spital,” World Economic Forum.

 

To view all of the 99 Facts on the Future of Business in the Digital Economy, check out the Slideshare or other subsets below.

 

To see the rest of the series, check out our page “Facts on the Future of Business” every Thursday, where we will cover these six topics:

  • The value imperative to embrace the digital economy
  • Technologies driving the digital economy
  • Customer experience and marketing in digital economy
  • The future of work in the digital economy
  • Purpose and sustainability in the digital economy
  • Supply networks in the digital economy

 

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Peter Johnson

About Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is a Senior Director of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership at SAP, responsible for developing easy to understand corporate level and cross solution messaging. Peter has proven experience leading innovative programs to accelerate and scale Go-To-Market activities, and drive operational efficiencies at industry leading solution providers and global manufactures respectively.

Fast – But Not Too Fast – Wins The Race In Supply Chain Management

Richard Howells

Bonnie D. Graham, host of The Digital Transformation of Your Supply Chain with Game-Changers podcast, opened her recent show by recounting the tale of “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

You know the story: A slow but steady turtle beats a swift yet arrogant rabbit in a footrace.

Bonnie used the Aesop fable to illustrate two points about supply chain management:

  1. If you respond too slowly to your customers’ needs, you risk being left behind.
  1. If you respond too quickly, you risk acting without the proper insight.

The truth is, you need to strike the perfect balance, responding in a timely fashion with sound information that adequately supports your response.

One of the panelists on the show, Eric Simonson, director of solution management at SAP, likened this to another well-known tale: “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

Your supply chain organization, he suggests, needs to respond to its consumers just right.

Don’t just respond – predict

Responding to the needs of your supply chain customers is one thing. Anticipating consumers’ needs is something else altogether.

“Basically, if we look back into what we’re trying to do traditionally in supply chain management and supply chain planning, specifically,” said guest Jeroen Kusters, senior manager of supply chain management at Deloitte, “is we’re trying to predict the future.”

He admits, however, that “we’re always a little bit wrong.”

How can we change this?

The key is gaining an optimal view of the information you have at your disposal. In addition to taking a deeper dive into your own data, it’s important to have some insight into your supply chain partners’ information. This will enable your company to respond earlier – with greater accuracy – and even help you predict future demand.

Supply chain in the year 2020 and beyond

At one point during the podcast, Bonnie asked her panel of experts what they think the future holds for supply chain management.

Jeroen envisions organizations better integrating their planning, response management, and other operations across the entire supply chain. This will allow companies and their partners to more easily share – and capitalize on – customer insight and other key data.

Eric foresees a world where digital collaboration is much more prominent.

“[M]aybe it’ll start with the supplier side of things,” he says, “and then, eventually … we can get to some of the customer collaboration type, too, to get some better demand visibility.”

With a more holistic view into what’s happening across the entire supply chain, your business is primed to provide well-informed, timely responses to ever-evolving consumer demands.

Srini Bangalore, managing director at Deloitte, believes the immediate future of supply chain revolves around digitalization. But his long-term outlook is more focused on cognitive intelligence.

“I look at cognitive supply chain as a 20-year journey,” he says, “where your machines and computing systems that you use within your supply chain have machine-based intelligence. They can learn, they can problem solve, and they can make decisions on your behalf in the processes in your extended supply chain. The role of a human being is to actually augment the machines.”

A first-rate lesson in digital response and supply chain management

As discussed on the show, predicting the future isn’t easy. But if you’re going to listen to anybody about what direction supply chain is headed in, it ought to be industry thought leaders like Eric Simonson, Jeroen Kusters, and Srini Bangalore.

Check out the entire episode of The Digital Transformation of Your Supply Chain with Game-Changers to hear more expert opinions on digital response and supply chain management from Bonnie and her panel of guests.

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Richard Howells

About Richard Howells

Richard Howells is a Vice President at SAP responsible for the positioning, messaging, AR , PR and go-to market activities for the SAP Supply Chain solutions.

Running Future Cities on Blockchain

Dan Wellers , Raimund Gross and Ulrich Scholl

Building on the Blockchain Framework

Some experts say these seemingly far-future speculations about the possibilities of combining technologies using blockchain are actually both inevitable and imminent:


Democratizing design and manufacturing by enabling individuals and small businesses to buy, sell, share, and digitally remix products affordably while protecting intellectual property rights.
Decentralizing warehousing and logistics by combining autonomous vehicles, 3D printers, and smart contracts to optimize delivery of products and materials, and even to create them on site as needed.
Distributing commerce by mixing virtual reality, 3D scanning and printing, self-driving vehicles, and artificial intelligence into immersive, personalized, on-demand shopping experiences that still protect buyers’ personal and proprietary data.

The City of the Future

Imagine that every agency, building, office, residence, and piece of infrastructure has an entry on a blockchain used as a city’s digital ledger. This “digital twin” could transform the delivery of city services.

For example:

  • Property owners could easily monetize assets by renting rooms, selling solar power back to the grid, and more.
  • Utilities could use customer data and AIs to make energy-saving recommendations, and smart contracts to automatically adjust power usage for greater efficiency.
  • Embedded sensors could sense problems (like a water main break) and alert an AI to send a technician with the right parts, tools, and training.
  • Autonomous vehicles could route themselves to open parking spaces or charging stations, and pay for services safely and automatically.
  • Cities could improve traffic monitoring and routing, saving commuters’ time and fuel while increasing productivity.

Every interaction would be transparent and verifiable, providing more data to analyze for future improvements.


Welcome to the Next Industrial Revolution

When exponential technologies intersect and combine, transformation happens on a massive scale. It’s time to start thinking through outcomes in a disciplined, proactive way to prepare for a future we’re only just beginning to imagine.

Download the executive brief Running Future Cities on Blockchain.


Read the full article Pulling Cities Into The Future With Blockchain

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Dan Wellers

About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Raimund Gross

About Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross is a solution architect and futurist at SAP Innovation Center Network, where he evaluates emerging technologies and trends to address the challenges of businesses arising from digitization. He is currently evaluating the impact of blockchain for SAP and our enterprise customers.

Ulrich Scholl

About Ulrich Scholl

Ulrich Scholl is Vice President of Industry Cloud and Custom Development at SAP. In this role, Ulrich discovers and implements best practices to help further the understanding and adoption of the SAP portfolio of industry cloud innovations.

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Why HR Is The New Marketing

Michael Brenner

In a world of infinite media choices, the best way to reach new buyers and new talent might be right under your nose. Your own employees represent the greatest opportunity to create meaningful marketing and to develop human resources programs that increase sales, while also finding and retaining top talent. Is HR the new marketing?

In the battle for new talent, HR departments have been forced to expand their role from hiring and firing, overseeing personnel systems and processes, and handling benefit management to include leadership development and training, employer branding, and diversity initiatives.

HR has been forced to adopt strategies that look, well, very much like marketing. These days, HR develops campaigns to grow employer awareness, to build the employer brand as a “great place to work,” and to retain top talent—all traditional marketing objectives.

While many in HR have embraced these traditional marketing skills, the most effective companies are moving beyond HR simply applying marketing techniques to a whole new opportunity. These effective companies are actually activating employees as a new marketing channel to achieve both HR and marketing objectives.

Proceed with caution

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving the potential of employees as a new marketing channel is the perception of marketing as advertising.

Asking (or forcing) your employees to share product content on their social media channels is just as dangerous as asking them to share (or guilting them into sharing) what a great place your company is to work.

Consumers are increasingly ignoring and blocking advertising messages, with some research even suggesting that promotional messages from brands can have the opposite of their intended effect. These misguided efforts can actually cause sales to decline!

While some employees may authentically share their excitement and passion for the products they work on, the projects they are engaged in, and the company they work for (and we should celebrate that), this is not a sustainable strategy for getting new customer or talent.

Content marketing and HR

Content marketing has emerged as one of the hottest trends in marketing. Marketers are learning to think and act like publishers to create entertaining, interesting, or helpful content that consumers actually want to read and share (vs. promotional ads). And this approach allows a brand to reach, engage, convert and retain new customers.

The opportunity to activate employees to achieve marketing and HR objectives starts by creating content they naturally want to share.

As the first VP of content marketing at SAP, I learned to tap into the power of my fellow employees to create a marketing program that delivered massive ROI. The biggest lesson I learned: HR is the new marketing!

With a limited budget for content, I asked our internal experts to write articles on whatever they wanted. We had one editorial rule: no product promotion. Our internal experts could explore their professional or personal passions and interests, even if it meant writing about cat videos. Because somewhere out in the world, I believed there was a potential customer, employee, partner or investor who might also loved cat videos. (No one ever wrote about cat videos. Bummer!)

I even created a slideshare deck to explain the value for these employees/budding content marketers:

  • Grow your personal brand
  • Increase or establish your authority on the topics you are interested in
  • Gain new social media followers
  • Maybe even find that new job or get promoted

We also encouraged this behavior by publicly recognizing our top articles and authors each week in a round-up post. We made rock stars of the best performers as their social connections and influence increased. And this drove more employees to sign up.

Today, that site has hundreds of employee contributors. All are growing their personal brand, while expressing their passions and expertise to the world. And many of the employees who don’t write articles voluntarily share the content with their social connections.

As LinkedIn’s own Jason Miller mentioned in his article, the trick is to define what’s in it for them.

Why does this work?

Because you can create massive momentum when we combine the needs of our customers, our employees, and our company based on THEIR own distinct interests:

  • Companies want more loyal customers and talented employees.
  • Employees want purpose and meaningful work that has real impact on their career and the world.
  • Customers want to form relationships with brands on their terms and based on their self-interest

What you can do to activate HR as the new marketing

1. Create a customer-centric vision

Look around your organization, and you will see people above you, below you, and beside you. The traditional org chart still exists to focus on your position in the hierarchy. But where’s the customer? Where is the customer in your org chart? 

Even if your company mission isn’t customer-centric (“we are the leading provider of widgets”), your marketing vision must be. And there is one simple formula to get there:

Become a sought-after destination for which topicin order to deliver what customer value or impact.

2. Create content employees who want to share

According to LinkedIn, the combined connections of employees on the LinkedIn platform is 10 times larger than any company’s followers. And just 3 percent of company employees sharing branded content generate 30 percent of the views and clicks on that content.

Platforms such as LinkedIn Elevate, social selling programs, and other tools can dramatically increase the reach of your content, grow your company’s social presence, and improve the effectiveness of marketing programs — without spending a single dollar on paid media.

But you have to create content your employees want to share. You might even ask them to help you. The trick is to explain what’s in it for them: creating or sharing content can help them build more connections, establish relationships with other leaders in your industry, and grow their personal brand so they can achieve happiness in their careers.

3. Measure the results

Measure the impact of your employee content sharing for your company. Demonstrate how it has benefited the employees (increased connections, awards, and recognition). Discuss ways to profile your best customers as well.

And partner with your colleagues across HR, marketing, and sales to determine the best ways to continuously optimize what is working for everyone.

If you’re in marketing, it’s time to start thinking about your colleagues in HR as your new best friend. And if you’re in HR, it’s time to think about how marketing can help you acquire and retain the best talent — while making the leadership team happy as well.

For more strategies that create a culture that drives business growth, see Employee Advocacy = Engaged Employees.

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Michael Brenner

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of  The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider GroupHe has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and   a top  CMO influencer by Forbes.