A new study from SAP on blockchain reveals what many many think obvious: it is past time to accept blockchain as imminent. For some, distributed ledger technology (DLT or blockchain) remains in the ‘too early to worry about’ category. For others it is in the early stages of adoption, albeit with hype and scepticism.
To sort between these, SAP has sought to uncover and validate today’s enterprise blockchain realities. It studied multiple organizations already engaged in blockchain-related activities. The results cover blockchains ‘promise’, current use cases, necessary focus areas to accelerate market adoption and business impact. A key conclusion: businesses clearly distinguish (and separate) between blockchain enterprise reality with its potential impact from Bitcoin/ICO hype.
SAP on blockchain – the present including four scenarios
According to the study, a majority of companies see blockchain innovation coming from vendors in tech and industry. 88% of respondents believe companies in both areas drive standardization and collaboration.
The most important attributes of enterprise blockchain use cases are, in order of priority among survey respondents:
- transparency in the value chain
- trustworthy shared data
- industry standardisation.
These priorities capitalise on blockchain’s logistical and transactional advantages. Revealingly, SAP says it has over the past year ‘co-innovated’ various scenarios, including:
- transportation management: for all transportation modes and industries; sellers, buyers, banks, authorities and others can share, review and sign documents electronically, track process statuses and hand over ownership of the e-bill of lading to reduce efforts, frauds and stolen freight
- global track and trace: this provides the unified, end-to-end tracking, monitoring and reporting of objects and business processes across supply chain networks (blockchain technology helps make tracking information immutable and tamper-proof for product authenticity and providence plus information stored in the blockchain builds a trust basis for fully automated payment and settlement processes)
- advanced track and trace for pharmaceuticals: this enables pharmaceutical supply chain members to comply with global antidrug counterfeit regulations and facilitates collaboration between supply chain partners (this can occur in conjunction with SAP Information Collaboration Hub for Life Sciences)
- farm to consumer: food producers and retailers come together to improve compliance and safeguard brand reputation by increasing confidence in food safety; this explores blockchain across the broader food ecosystem both as an effective remedy to product counterfeiting and a way to boost supply chain integrity and efficiency.
SAP on blockchain – a promising future
The study also identified participants innovating in the present, but also optimistic about blockchain’s future. 92% of respondents viewed blockchain as an opportunity, with the four most promising use cases ranked as:
- supply chain and IoT — 63%
- legal and regulatory — 19%
- cryptocurrency — 8%
- sustainability — 3%
Across industries, respondents were bullish on blockchain’s future impact on a variety of business challenges:
- improving corporate compliance — 96%
- becoming the system of trust — 83%
- replacing operational supply chain contracts in 5–10 years — 76%.
Ultimately, the message conveyed by respondents was that blockchain technology will advance farther and faster if it has the active support and involvement of SAP. For example, 92% said they believed SAP’s support of blockchain in standard products will accelerate adoption in the supply chain, manufacturing and IoT markets. The same majority would join an SAP-led blockchain consortium.
What does it mean
Today’s blockchain innovators span industries, generating new use cases every day in pharmaceuticals, consumer products, automotive, agriculture, telecom, retail, logistics, among many others. From the evidence of this SAP on blockchain study, blockchain is here to stay plus realising its potential has started to occur.
On a less empirical basis, Enterprise Times can confirm blockchain interest from participants in trade finance, supply chain support, food safety and sustainability. Much is happening, though much remains in the proof-of-concept stage.
Balancing this, the SAP on blockchain study appears to some degree to be self-fulfilling. Those who have interests in blockchain will probably be more positive.Those who are sceptical are less likely to deliver opinions. What does matter, a facet Enterprise Times can again confirm, is the separation between enterprise blockchain and Bitcoin/ICO fantasies