Secure, reliable data to solve supply chain logistics failures

16 June 2021 | Ankur Bhan

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Ankur Bhan

Blog Author | Guest contributor

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Data derived from IoT sensors can be utilised in multiple ways for digital transformation and monetisation. Ankur Bhan, head of network function as a service at Nokia, explains

The role of data is well known to be fundamental to the success of a business. In fact, last year 451 Research found that 66% of enterprises make most, if not all, of their strategic decisions by consulting data. But the role that data plays in business and commerce is only set to grow as technology becomes more advanced.

IoT connectivity and analytics mean industries can transform. Quantifiable data like temperature, speed, position and provenance are available in real-time. But few companies are taking advantage of this emerging technology. In fact, only 45% of companies today use real-time data insights for better decision-making. Companies could be getting much more out of connectivity and real-time data across their supply chains.

In a supply chain, many stakeholders and processes have to connect to create one smooth operation with multiple tools and systems in use. In many cases, this behemoth challenge is not  overcome, resulting in logistics failures which cost businesses money. Especially in the last year with so many external factors affecting supply chains beyond businesses’ control.

Keeping the world moving

Shipping containers carry a massive percentage of the goods that impact our daily lives. The importance of these boxes is vital in globalised supply chains with close to twenty million shipping containers in the world, making over 200 million trips annually.

With such huge numbers being moved around, it’s no surprise that shipping containers aren’t always checked properly. But it’s estimated that only 2% to 10% of containers are even inspected at all, which causes financial impact. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, loses $15 billion annually due to cold chain logistics failures, due in part because 20 of the 50 top selling drugs require exact cooling levels to be maintained.

The real-time data available through IoT, however, enables fully integrated data collection across the entire supply chain that is equally important in a global and local context. With this end-to-end view, enterprises can gain greater insights into exactly what is happening at any stage and any time. They can spot and mitigate delays, slowdowns and other trends that affect the bottom line. They can not only reduce costs but improve revenues with new digital services.

In the case of shipping containers, this means that the information about these giant assets can become visible for every stakeholder in real-time. This provides an end-to-end view of its journey, and awareness of quantifiable data like, for instance, if the temperature increases in a particular ‘cold’ container. With IoT sensors tracking the movement and conditions of goods, enterprises will know exactly when and where incidents take place so they can make better business decisions. Enterprise can then leverage data analysis to predict future incidents or improve corrective actions.

The ultimate combination: IoT and blockchain

IoT provides capabilities to collect the real time data from the assets and overall supply chain points, this data then needs to be shared across multiple ecosystem participants including the possibilities of monetising the data. With blockchain technology the vital trust between and governance can be ensured by securing transactions among ecosystem participants.

Enterprises collecting and transacting the data for business process or monetisation purpose should look to use a blockchain-enabled, distributed data marketplace platform to securely exchange and monetise this aggregated data.

The right solution uniquely combines private permissioned blockchain for security, trust and AI/ML orchestration capabilities that can be applied to various vertical use cases like asset tracking, micro transaction and data exchanges for electric vehicle charging, environmental data monetisation or supply chain automation. In this way, the data derived from IoT sensors can be subject to secure transactions and utilised in multiple ways for digital transformation and monetisation.

Distributed leader technology based on private and permissioned blockchain can give businesses peace of mind by keeping their data secure while the external data sources they use are trustworthy and cannot be tampered with. Simultaneously, automated process can regulate and enforce the rules of engagement between buyers and sellers. Smart contracts, for example, can provide the transaction logic to ensure the data can only be traded if it meets pre-established terms and conditions. Through this layer of automation, both buyers and sellers can exchange real time data in a quick, efficient manner.

Modern data marketplace solutions are allowing transparent and secure data exchange with increased operational efficiency. The real-time tracking of quantifiable data, which can improve the reliability of supply-chain logistics for one enterprise can now be accessible to others too, compounding the financial benefits and cost savings. The various stakeholders can cooperate more tightly, establish new business relationships and enjoy and increased level of trust in the ecosystem.

By leveraging data monitoring and sharing, it’s possible to evolve supply chains to harness the next generation of logistical capabilities. In order to do this, however, this data must be collected, managed, analysed and shared using the latest technologies, capable of worldwide IoT connectivity and secure data trading.