Blockchain is like the new pet rock. Everyone’s talking about it and nobody really gets it — but they’re all too scared to admit it makes no sense because everyone else seems really excited about it.
It’s OK. I’m here to help.
Basically, blockchain is like an online ledger that everyone can securely enter records into.
There you go. There’s your explainer sentence to whip out at company meetings whenever blockchain comes up and everyone’s eyes glaze over because nobody seems to understand what it is. You understand what it is now. It’s an online ledger. That’s it. You’re welcome.
As of right now, blockchain is most famous because of its relation to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin because it’s an easy and secure way for multiple people to keep track of transactions.
But that’s not why the confectionery industry should be excited about blockchain. No, the confectionery industry should be excited about blockchain because it has the potential to revolutionize the way companies track ingredients.
And specifically it could help the industry track the ingredient most infamous for being hard to follow — cocoa.
IBM is all about blockchain these days, and the company has high hopes for how it could transform the supply chain and traceability efforts.
Using the example of shipping flowers overseas, the company says that without blockchain, one shipment can require sign-off from 30 unique organizations and up to 200 communications. And one lost form or late approval could leave a container stuck at the port. It's a process that can take more than month.
But with blockchain, everyone is entering the tracking information into one online system that's easy to use and follow. So everyone involved can follow the shipments throughout the entire supply chain, and even the retailer is able to electronically sign off on receiving the flowers in the same blockchain system.
It doesn't take much work to insert the word "cocoa" for "flowers" in that scenario. And it won’t be long before candy makers can literally track chocolate from cocoa pod to candy bar all in one online ledger.
Specifically, IBM says blockchain has the potential to:
- Reduce or eliminate fraud and errors
- Improve inventory management
- Minimize courier costs
- Reduce delays from paperwork
- Reduce waste
- Identify issues faster
And it will also make it easier for companies to share their supply chain records with consumers — something the industry should be interested in as it works to make cocoa more sustainable.
So in short, blockchain is cool and a little mysterious, but it has the potential to change the world. In other words, it’s a lot like chocolate.