This week, a significant announcement from GS1, the global business communications standards organization has important implications for consumer goods industry pilots directed at business process use cases for deploying blockchain technology.

The standards group announced a partnership involving both IBM and Microsoft which will leverage GS1 standards in their respective blockchain applications directed at supply chain clients.

In late August, Supply Chain Matters called attention to expanding blockchain proof-of-concepts underway among IBM, key retailers such as Wal-Mart, and a select variety of eight noted consumer goods manufacturers. There efforts are being directed at needs related to food safety and product recalls. IBM and Wal-Mart have reportedly leveraged blockchain technology to pilot the traceability of mangoes in the U.S. and pork supplies in China. Within the GS1 announcement, Wal-Mart’s Vice President of Food Safety indicated that use of blockchain distributed ledger, allowed Wal-Mart to track a product from the retail shelf back through every stage of the supply chain in a matter of seconds instead of days or weeks.

Supply Chain Matters views this GS1 joint announcement as a positive, one that surely included the influence of consumer goods supply chain participants. It helps to build on existing product identification and traceability standards and will likely add more enhancements as blockchain driven processes gain more adoption in the months to come.  We anticipated that other major tech vendors will sign-on with GS1 as-well.

Also, this week, this Editor had the opportunity to sit-in on a roundtable panel discussion sponsored by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge titled: Emerging Application for Blockchain in Supply Chains.  The panelists provided very informative discussions on the business case use areas for blockchain as well as its adoption cycles. We will be featuring highlights of that venue in a separate posting.

Bob Ferrari

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