Blockchain: Why Coders Are The New Cowboys

Maggie Nelson

We have all been asked, “If you could go back in time and live in a particular era or decade, which would you choose?” If you’re like me, you carefully weigh the pros and cons: The roaring 1920s would offer great music, but also prohibition. In the Jurassic period, you could camp with dinosaurs, but that also means THERE WOULD BE DINOSAURS! After careful thought, I tend to favor the Wild, Wild West. Riding horses, shooting guns. and exploring the undiscovered… this sounds like my kind of adventure.

Nevertheless, until Santa brings me a DeLorean for Christmas, I will not be time-traveling anytime in the near future. Presently, I feel like we are at a point in time that resembles the Wild, Wild West when it comes to blockchain. Some articles link blockchain to the Internet in the 1990s, but I prefer to live in a more sensationalized state of mind, where coders are cowboys and the new gold is cryptocurrency.

Blockchain is not just Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies; it is so much more. The power of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology has applications across every kind of digital record and transaction. The potential use cases are limitless, which translates into a great new frontier (cue the Davy Crockett theme song).

Blockchain uniquely ties together the transformation of a digital ecosystem, and as such, the opportunity that lies within industry innovation. As Pat Bakey, president of SAP Industries, put it, “Blockchain’s innate versatility means that it truly has the ability to reshape nearly any industry if put to use correctly.”

The technology has significant potential, just like what the gold rush offered prospectors: the opportunity of unimaginable fortunes. Similarly, while not all prospectors found fortune, blockchain is not a good fit for every process or transaction. Converting this promising technology into a legitimate business reality will come from industry expertise and collaboration.

Within the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry, conversations vary from, “What is blockchain?” to full blown co-innovation initiatives. Use cases our team is exploring include:

  • Building trust and transparency in aircraft manufacturing and operations by leveraging credential verification tools to maintain secure certifications for parts, products, personnel, and organizations.
  • Increasing security and trust in a complex, multi-tier supply chain with end-to-end data integrity and provenance.
  • Simplifying contract management with collaborative “smart” contracts for a scalable system of record.

By exploring the use cases specific to the A&D industry ecosystem, or by joining the SAP Blockchain Co-Innovation Program, A&D companies have the opportunity to slip on our cowboy boots, mount our horses, and begin exploring the new frontier.

So the only question that remains is: When the dust settles, where will you be? On the Oregon Trail without an ox or a passenger on the Transcontinental Railroad?

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Discrete Manufacturers: Automotive, Aerospace and Defense, High Tech, and Industrial Machinery. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

This story also appeared on the SAP Community. Published with permission of the author.


Maggie Nelson

About Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson is the Solution Manager of the Aerospace & Defense Business Unit at SAP.