How Blockchain can Support Future Industrial Evolution
I would like to share with you my understanding of Blockchain technology, not as a geek but as a mechanical business engineer, the interest of this technology and why I think it will support our future industrial evolution.
Making cars and delivering mobility services involves a lot of functions working in silos.
Blockchain will change the way we work, allowing us to make links through all functions of all companies working together, and bringing more speed and reactivity in the exchanges and processes.
Within one company, you don’t need blockchain for achieving digital transformation. But when you work with external companies, when you need to certify information in a trustworthy mode without a third-party certification, when you have complex processes with several actors, or when you need time or money to reconciledata, Blockchain is the ideal solution.
The Blockchain may be considered as a mesh above the processes and the databases of all the members involved in the network.
Today, when we work in an ecosystem, each company has its own process to exchange data and information. So, we define a transformation matrix between the respective processes, and we spend more time in defining the means of exchanging than on working on the data itself.
With Blockchain, each data owner loads their data in the ledger. We have a lean ecosystem process focusing on data and the data model instead of the exchange format.
Due to the security and mode of data exchange, Blockchain technology is not very intrusive and may be implemented reactively.
We see 3 steps in implementation of Blockchain for helping us in our future evolution.
The first step is the change of the network.
Let’s take the example of the production ecosystem of an OEM with its suppliers. Today, we work in a star network where the OEM is at the center of the star, and all the information exchanges through the ecosystem are passing through the center of the star. With blockchain, we flatten the network and we can allow by governance direct data exchange from one supplier to another, while remaining compliant with antitrust law.
The second step is the automatic check and alert of data, thanks to the smart contract.
The smart contract is neither smart nor a contract, but only the execution of an algorithm. Why it is so important in our industry? Because, we have, through the ecosystem, a lot of information and data protected by confidentiality or intellectual property.
Thanks to blockchain technology, the data must be put in the ledger and protected in crypted mode. Those data are only accessible by the owner, but you can execute a smart contract on it and provide real time information to the network.
The third and most interesting step, but we need the two first ones to reach it, is to create a collective intelligence. Today, we have very complex technologies. For connected or autonomous cars, we deal with more than two hundred connected software.
The ecosystem collective intelligence will allow each member to be more reactive and to take the additional steps on prevention, prediction, and prescription.
This is a key asset of Blockchain technology because it is done in a very secure mode, certifying data owning.
Let’s sum-up the value brought by Blockchain:
First, you get performance, increasing efficiency within an ecosystem with automatic and real time access to data and automatic checking and alerting of data. The interesting added value is to create digital continuity with the smaller actors of the chain that may not have an information system on their own and may access to a powerful blockchain system at low cost.
Then you get reactivity: in the implementation of Blockchain as it is not very intrusive in the information system of each company and in usage because it facilitates real time exchanges. And reactivity also allows you to increase customer satisfaction.
You have certification, authentication, and anti-fraud by design. The important thing is the certification of data owning.
Finally, it opens new opportunities with new data generation, new business opportunities and business model transformation.
But at the center of value, you find trust within the ecosystem and outside of it. You change from a customer–supplier relationship to a partner relationship and this is very powerful in changing the world.
In difficult times, collaboration is the only way to continue progress and innovation.
Blockchain projects are collaborative projects including shared expenses and shared risks.
But more than a technology, we need to change our mindset. Working in a collaborative mode is not that easy, particularly with big, old companies having their own strong culture. This is key for getting ecosystem agility. Our first experiences give us great confidence we will succeed in this tricky task.