5 key blockchain takeaways (and how to learn more)

A day hardly passes without an urgent headline focused on the economic transformation underway wrought by blockchain technology. The software is the power behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but Olin experts have been plumbing the deeper implications of the technology.

Here are five things business leaders should know right now about blockchain from Panos Kouvelis, director of Olin’s Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation, and Ohad Kadan, H. Frederick Hagemann, Jr. Professor of Finance and Associate Dean for Global Degree Programs. Then, watch for a way to learn more.

Peer-to-Peer Transactions—Like Cash

Blockchain technology has been developed as an efficient method for completing financial transactions, based on the principle of peer-to-peer involvement and fully decentralized and shared networks. It functions as a distributed ledger that provides visibility of all transactions to all parties in the chain, and it is built on an immutable database.

Early Applications

Beyond cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, etherium, and litecoin, the blockchain has been used in supply chain finance in areas such as clearing financial payments, using digital ledgers, and executing “smart” contracts.

Digital Inventory Tracking

Key inventory and asset resources can take on a digital footprint, which provides additional security and tracking capabilities. Applications have been built, relying on the blockchain, to track and trace goods involved in the supply chain for industries such as the diamond trade, food, and pharmaceuticals.

Applications Still Being Conceived

Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize supply chains and it requires the immediate attention of supply chain managers. Many are scrambling to understand how a technology developed to support cryptocurrencies might be applicable to supply chains and, in particular, to the supply chains of their companies. Experts say the technology will reduce friction in global shipping operations and complex supply chains that involve goods flowing across borders, through ports, and involving governmental agencies, manufacturing, and retail firms.

Kouvelis and Kadan will help business leaders get further up-to-speed on the ways blockchain technology will enhance (or disrupt) their industry in a two-day seminar May 22-23 called “Blockchain Innovation Strategies: Early Lessons from an Emerging Technology.” Click for more about this workshop.

The workshop is structured as a forum to learn more about the technology and equip attendees to know what questions to ask as they explore the implications of blockchain for their business. Coming out of the workshop, attendees should better understand the potential application of the technology in their supply chains, gain inspiration about possible immediate benefits the technology can provide, and confront obstacles and challenges in implementing it.

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