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Despite Doubts in Some Quarters, Target Announces Commitment to Blockchain for Supply Chain

 

Retailer Working on Program for Supplier Certification, will Join Hyperledger Grid Project

June 11, 2019
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Blockchain is going to revolutionize certain processes in the supply chain.

Blockchain is an over-hyped technology that is many years away from widespread adoption, with many questions still to be answered relative to the "digital ledger" that first came into prominence with the digital currency Bitcoin.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Target said ConsenSource has been in the pipelines since mid-2018. The first application will involve certification of suppliers for the paper-based products or packaging.


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Of the former mindset would be the analysts at Gartner, who in their supply chain predictions for 2019 wrote that by 2023, 90% of Blockchain-based supply chain initiatives will suffer Blockchain fatigue for lack of strong use cases.

Gartner added that "Success in the early years of supply chain Blockchain projects is very limited, with initiatives failing to match the initial market exuberance that will lead to disillusionment and buyer fatigue."

However, there is interest in Blockchain sure. For example, over the last two years, Bockchain has been the No. 1 trending topic on gartner.com.

Nevertheless, Gartner said that "Supply chain leaders across all industries are struggling to find suitable use cases for Blockchain."

In fact, The Gartner Supply Chain Technology User Wants and Needs Survey found that only about 19% of respondents saw Blockchain as a very important technology and only about 9% have already invested in Blockchain or have budgeted to do so in 2019.

This is largely because companies struggle to identify how Blockchain will be a better offering and provide higher value over conventional technology.

Even more provocatively, Gartner comments that "Many companies at this point in time are pursuing Blockchain projects due to intense pressure to be seen as having Blockchain competency or due to pressure from the C-suite, rather than investing for specific purposes where Blockchain is proven the best technology. This deepens the misalignment between need versus desire for a technology for the sake of a technology."

But then this week, news that retail giant Target has been quietly working on a Blockchain-powered supply chain system.

On Target's corporate blog, the company said it has created Blockchain solution for supplier certification, which it calls ConsenSource.


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The website CoinDesk reported Target has also pledged to support something called the Hyperledger Grid project, a Blockchain-based platform or all types of cross-industry supply chain scenarios. Cargill, one of Target's suppliers, Intel and Blockchain technology startup Bitwise IO had previously confirmed support for the platform.

Target said ConsenSource has been in the pipelines since mid-2018. The first application will involve certification of suppliers for the paper-based products or packaging.

"Working directly with the forest managers and certification boards, studying the technology and trying to figure out what data can be shared on a distributed ledger," wrote Joel Crabb, Target's vice president of architecture.

"I'm proud that Target will support the Hyperledger Grid project, and that we're committing dedicated engineering resources to build out components in the Grid architecture!" Crabb added.

Target rival Walmart has made several announcements relative Blockchain in the past couple of years, noticeably its participation in IBM's Food Trust initiative.

One of the factors that some believe has been an obstacle to Blockchain adoption in the supply chain is concerns about exposing sensitive data, say around freight moves.

But Target appears to have blown past such worries.

"Many companies – including Target – see the most potential for enterprise Blockchain initiatives as open source," the Target blog post said. "Open-source projects require all participating parties to define the governance model collectively from the outset, so companies can then focus their time working on Blockchain-based solutions that will lead to greater speed, transparency and cost savings."

Will Blockchain deliver supply chain value at an affordable cost? That is still an open question, but Target is making a statement that it believes Bllockchain is ready for prime time.

 

Any reaction to Target's Blockchain announcement? Are you bullish or bearish on Blockchain in suply chain? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section (email) or button below.
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