Insights & News

One Day Blockchain Will Make Supply Chains More Transparent. Until Then, Here’s How You Can Increase Visibility Right Now

Illustration of blockchain touchpoint

Posted On May 16, 2018

You would be forgiven if you were under the impression that the record of digital transactions known as “blockchain” was more like a wonder drug capable of curing everything from the common cold to Ebola. Seriously, somewhere around 2016, blockchain stopped being an actual thing and became shorthand for “something really good that will change everything”—rather than an important technology that will eventually fundamentally alter your supply chain.

So what is blockchain, really?

It’s actually fairly simple. It’s a distributed database that holds records of events or transactions in a way that makes tampering with those records more difficult. How does it accomplish that? Because blockchain exists on a network of computers, it can’t easily be altered by any one organization or person. Because of its decentralized structure, blockchain does have the potential to dramatically alter the way some industries that depend on records of transactions do business.

Blockchain will eventually have a significant impact on supply chains. The mystery that can envelop shipments between their point of origin and their arrival could lessen if data was recorded in a globally accessible blockchain every time a shipment changed modes of transportation or entered and exited a new port. It would be the ultimate advancement in visibility.

However, widespread adoption of blockchain hasn’t happened yet. Right now, the technology is still in its infancy. Google “blockchain” and “supply chain,” and you’ll see the frequent presence of an important word: will.

As in, blockchain will change your supply chain.

Blockchain will be a game changer.

Blockchain will drive innovation in your supply chain.

All those “wills” are there because the technology isn’t fully developed—yet. It’s sort of like Bitcoin, the electronic currency that depends on blockchain. You also see a lot of “will” in Bitcoin articles with headlines like “Bitcoin will totally eliminate the need for banks and governments”—but in the meantime we are still using government-printed dollars from bank-owned ATMs, and will be for a long time.

It’s true: One day blockchain will likely increase transparency in supply chains. Technology that sounds like a fantasy today does sometimes become a reality tomorrow.

As that day gets closer the Flat World family of companies will continue to share the latest developments in the fast-evolving technology in this blog.

In the meantime, though, your shipping department can’t wait for blockchain to fully evolve to get the maximum amount of visibility possible. You need increased transparency in your supply chain right now—and you can have it. Flat World Supply Chain, RAM International, and Prologue Technology are three of the Flat World family of companies bringing increased transparency and visibility throughout your supply chain using a combination of proprietary technology, custom solutions, and customer service built on a foundation of excellence.

In other words, the Flat World team was focused on transparency and visibility before the word “blockchain” was even a twinkle in some tech blogger’s eye—and we will continue to have that focus, even when we are partnering with you to make blockchain a fundamental part of your supply chain.