Harnessing blockchain to rethink the delivery model?
Blockchain is another technology attracting the market’s attention. In concrete terms, this is a tamper-proof, distributed database which logs the entire transaction history between different users.
It serves to provide tamper-proof of events. Let’s use the example of a delivery. When the customer receives their parcel, they are asked for a signature, on a smartphone or dedicated mobile device. A digital version of this proof of delivery is sent to the company and is notarized. It is recorded as definitive proof that the shipment has been delivered. Payments can then be triggered and the transaction completed, without working through other stages in the process.
Blockchain also addresses the issue of responsibility: as the goods change hands, you can see where they are at each step in the process and who has responsibility for them. In insurance terms, the entire supply chain is then reinforced by clear and precise processes.
What might we envision going forward?
Let’s imagine, for example, that a driver needs to deliver a pallet of drinks, but the restaurant owner is not present at the scheduled time and cannot be contacted. Could the driver, in just one click, activate a bidding system to other restaurant owners in the vicinity to supply the goods to them instead? Interested parties would enjoy a discount, as delivering to them would ultimately be cheaper than completing a full return of the product.
Going forward: the development of a common standard?
In the logistics market, which represents some 6,000 billion dollars, it is rare that any one player has more than a 1% shareholding. Logistics is a market of networks. Players who want to fully support their customers cannot afford to do it alone, especially not within the context of an extended enterprise... And here again, digital is a sizable lever.
Here at GEODIS, we do not merely intend that data serves a supply chain approach, but rather that it enables us to move from supply chain to “supply ecosystem”.
Standardizing the supply chain is no simple feat, however. Until now, individual players worked within the frame of their own organizations, using their own language and practices. Former technologies were used to computerize supply streams, regular and recurring. However, with even a slight change in organization, they required complicated customizations. They were not capable of handling more precise queries. For example, if a truck is half full, and another carrier passing nearby has room on board, wouldn’t it be better to team up?
In order to change tack towards a multiple subcontractor approach involving different modes of transport, to move from a supply chain to a supply ecosystem, we need to be speaking a common language, which so far does not exist.
Of course, a number of players have already tried to make this happen. But all too often, these attempts were for their own gain, serving only to better control their supply chain using their own language.
At GEODIS, we promote the development of a common approach founded upon the principle of shared data. We are looking into developing a glossary, to serve as both an industry-wide standard language as well as a means of implementing digital communication between different players. Our aim is to make these tools available to all, free of charge, in order to create an integrative digital ecosystem composed of datasets that, rather than being assembled statistically, are combined dynamically in real time, according to requirements and incidents.