SAP bets on blockchain for digital supply chains
SAP bets on blockchain for digital supply chains
(Credit: SAP)

SAP bets on blockchain for digital supply chains

German software company SAP is betting on blockchain’s distributed immutable ledger technology as a key enabler for disseminating information around digitally tracked business networks and supply chains.

SAP has used its TechEd Europe 2017 conference and exhibition held in Barcelona this week to explain its approach to blockchain and how it will push forward key use cases into the IoT.

As a technology, blockchain is best described as a system of creating a distributed immutable ledger of data (that can be a record of any data type) that spans multiple computers and so has extremely high levels of robustness by virtue of the fact that it is resistant to modification.

In terms of news, SAP has detailed new work that sees 27 customers and partners now join SAP’s blockchain co-innovation initiative. The initiative seeks to integrate the blockchain digital ledger system into IoT within manufacturing and digital supply chain software deployments using the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service.

Read more: Opinion: Why blockchain matters for the IoT

Blockchain breadth of adoption

SAP is upbeat about the breadth of adoption currently being seen with blockchain. Executives at the company say that customers participating in its co-innovation initiative come from verticals including consumer products development, telecoms, retail, logistics, agriculture, aerospace and defense, industrial machinery, energy and utilities.

“At Deutsche Telekom, we see a big potential for blockchain technology in the telecommunication business” said Hartmut Mueller, senior vice president of business solutions at Deutsche Telekom IT. “Our cooperation with SAP will speed up digitization to the benefit of our customers.”

SAP also said that it will join Spain’s Alastria consortium and the blockchain-in-trucking alliance BiTA to expand the adoption of blockchain to customers in a range of industries and geographies.

Alastria brings together banks, telecom providers, energy companies, universities, smart-city organizations and developers. As a member of the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance, an organization promoting the development of blockchain standards and education, SAP will also expand its reach in freight and transportation management.

Read more: Cargo shipping tech specialist MTI completes blockchain pilot

Co-innovation network

SAP is co-innovating with customers and partners to establish use cases for blockchain that can be standardized to enable wide adoption in digital supply chain and SAP Leonardo IoT installations including:

  • SAP Asset Intelligence Network – A cloud-based business network and global registry of equipment providing a digitization platform for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) used to share asset information with operators and service providers to improve service targets and increase asset uptime.
  • SAP Distributed Manufacturing – A network-based application providing a private platform for customized manufacturing and collaborative manufacturing with suppliers (for example, 3D printing service suppliers, material providers, OEMs and technical certification companies).
  • SAP Transportation Management – A blockchain case for international trade. Sellers, buyers, banks and authorities would be able to share, review and sign documents electronically, tracking process statuses and hand over ownership of the e-Bill of lading. A secure container release process is intended to reduce frauds and stolen freight.

Read more: IBM leads consortium promoting blockchain in food supply chains

Transparency and collaboration

“Our customers and partners are eager to join SAP in embracing blockchain as a distributed ledger that can increase transparency and collaboration,” said Tanja Rueckert, SAP’s president of IoT & digital supply chain. We are equally eager to co-innovate with the world’s leading companies to reimagine a future where blockchain is woven into the fabric of the digital value chain.”

Rueckert spoke in breakout sessions after the SAP TechEd event keynote to suggest that the future of IT with specific regard to the IoT might be a space where competitors start to work together in far closer collaborative relationships. When might this be? Any number of technologies could service to bring us all closer together, but blockchain could be a key facilitator. With the United Arab Emirates having already announced its intentions to be a blockchain-based government by 2020, this is a technology set to rise.

Read more: Is it time to protect IoT data with blockchain?