What Young Professionals Should Know about Blockchain
By Leila Merabet, CPIM
In the past few years, experts have increasingly touted the benefits of blockchain in supply chain. Numerous high-profile tests have piloted the technology to support greater supply chain transparency. But is blockchain really going to be as revolutionary as experts promise? And will it affect supply chain professionals’ roles? To find out, I connected with David Bambuck Bien-Aimé, Blockchain Guru’s Montreal-area regional director, to learn more about the company’s efforts in the supply chain field. Blockchain Guru is a Calgary, Alberta-based consulting and software development firm.
Although Bien-Aimé’s background is in management, marketing and e-commerce, the company has given him opportunities to participate in several innovative projects related to big data and the digital world, as well as help Quebec-based corporations learn more about and adopt emerging blockchain technology. The company’s CEO and Chief Guru Jon Trask, CPIM, CSCP, CLTD, is a supply chain professional with more than 25 years of supply chain leadership, consulting and technology experience. This translates to the company’s “remarkable vision” for how blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) can influence supply chains, Bien-Aimé says.
Before that vision can come to fruition, supply chain professionals need to know the blockchain basics. “Blockchain in its simplest form is a distributed ledger with high security powered by cryptography,” Bien-Aimé says. “This helps provide trust in a network with business, legal and technical capacities.” He likens blockchain to Facebook, in that they are both applications running on the internet. In addition, just as blockchain is used to facilitate secure, peer-to-peer interactions to trade cryptocurrencies, it can help create secure connections among supply chain systems and partners.
Where does blockchain fit?
Blockchain Guru is experimenting with blockchain technology and AI in a few key areas of supply chain, including forecasting, predicting estimated time of arrival, traceability, contract and quality management, contract signing, and record retention.
Bien-Aimé does not regard blockchain as a phenomenon. Rather, he says it is a tool that will be in every software engineer’s toolbox. “In five years, blockchain will be a part of every enterprise resources planning system, peer-to-peer system, transportation management system and warehouse management system,” he asserts.
As the technology evolves, it will enable capabilities that were unavailable just a few years ago. For example, it will support a new, more efficient world of collaboration between vendors and customers, with increased data sharing and fewer errors. In addition, the technology will help reduce the costs of document creation, contract management and vendor management, as well as improve traceability and delivery times.
With blockchain becoming more and more critical every day, it is important for supply chain managers — especially up-and-coming professionals — to understand the business benefits of this emerging technology. “We are entering a new era,” Bien-Aimé says. “[Think about] how we use Amazon today to buy books, clothing or accessories or how we use Google to find information or how we use wire transfers to pay bills or send funds to other people. That wasn’t the case 10 years ago. For a young professional, understanding emerging technology will be a soft skill and will add value to your pedigree.”
Leila Merabet, CPIM, is a demand and supply analyst at Pierre Fabre Laboratories in Canada. She has worked in cosmetics and luxury companies including L’Oréal, Clarins and Louis Vuitton. Merabet may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.