Indian Transport & Logistics

Learning from TradeLens: Sustainable, efficient blockchain for supply chain

Learning from TradeLens: Sustainable, efficient blockchain for supply chain
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The recent shutdown of TradeLens, a blockchain-based digital supply chain platform developed by IBM and Maersk, has generated significant discussions within the logistics industry. While it's essential to acknowledge the pioneering work of IBM and Maersk, which has undoubtedly inspired further innovation in blockchain technology, it's equally important to examine the lessons learned from this initiative's failure. In this article, we will discuss the factors that contributed to TradeLens's demise and explore the principles of a sustainable and efficient blockchain solution for supply chain management.

TradeLens: A pioneering Initiative
TradeLens was a groundbreaking initiative that aimed to revolutionize the supply chain and logistics industry by promoting transparency, efficiency, and security in global trade. The platform provided real-time data access and collaboration opportunities for various stakeholders, including shippers, carriers, and port operators. Despite its shutdown, the work done by IBM and Maersk has left a lasting impression on the industry.

The challenges of private blockchains
The non-success of TradeLens can be attributed to some of the inherent disadvantages of private blockchains, which can limit the scope of collaboration and adoption among industry stakeholders. Centralized control, limited access, and concerns over data privacy and neutrality have hindered the growth and success of the platform. Embracing permissioned public blockchains can pave the way forward for more sustainable and efficient supply chain solutions. These permissioned public blockchains strike a balance between the security and control of private blockchains while offering the transparency and decentralization of public blockchains. By promoting a more inclusive, transparent, and secure environment, permissioned public blockchains can foster greater collaboration and trust among stakeholders, propelling the future of blockchain technology in supply chain management.

Flexible architectures for interoperability
Standardization across large enterprises can be a complex and challenging endeavor, as different organizations often have unique processes, systems, and requirements. Consequently, implementing a one-size-fits-all approach to blockchain technology might impede adoption and limit the benefits of the platform. To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to develop a flexible architecture for the underlying blockchain platform that allows easy configuration and customization to suit the needs of each enterprise. Such an adaptable design not only streamlines integration but also enables interoperability between diverse systems and organizations. By fostering seamless communication and data exchange, a flexible blockchain platform can unite various stakeholders in the supply chain, driving greater efficiency, transparency, and collaboration across the industry.

Modern business models for blockchain adoption
The falling through of certain blockchain initiatives can often be traced back to their business models, with high costs of operations and the formation of consortiums posing significant barriers to adoption. These traditional approaches can lead to considerable upfront investments and ongoing expenses, making it difficult for enterprises to justify the adoption of blockchain technology. In contrast, modern blockchain solutions that adopt a pay-per-use model and utilize permissioned public blockchains significantly lower the barriers to entry. By offering a cost-effective and scalable alternative, enterprises can embrace the technology with minimal risk and financial burden. The reduced cost of adoption associated with permissioned public blockchains not only encourages enterprises to explore the potential benefits but also fosters innovation and collaboration across the industry. As a result, this modern approach to blockchain technology can drive greater efficiency, transparency, and growth in supply chain management and beyond.

The TradeLens shutdown offers valuable insights into the critical factors for successfully implementing a blockchain-based supply chain solution. By understanding and adhering to the principles of decentralized data control, rapid development and deployment, cost-effective scalability, and flexibility and interoperability, the future of blockchain technology in supply chain management can be both sustainable and efficient.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Indian Transport & Logistics News.

Vaideeswaran Sethuraman

Vaideeswaran Sethuraman

Vaideeswaran Sethuraman is the founder and CEO of the multi-tier supply chain technology orchestration platform Param.Network.

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