This week, Supply Chain Matters Executive Editor Bob Ferrari is attending the Oracle OpenWorld 2018 conference being held in San Francisco.

In our prior Dispatch One commentary, we highlighted impressions of Day One including Larry Ellison’s first keynote.

In our Dispatch Two commentary, we highlighted and shared observations relative to Oracle’s product announcement related to Blockchain technology.


In this commentary this Editor wanted to share thoughts and insights specifically on both IoT and Blockchain technology.

Keeping with our notion of this year’s OpenWorld theme as Net Change, one of the things that impresses me about Oracle is its ability to quickly learn and align relative to the ongoing needs of businesses in technology deployment. Oracle OpenWorld 2018

I was able to participate in two very insightful information and insights exchanges. One was with Jai Suri, Oracle Senior Director for Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain technology. The other was with Oracle Blockchain customer CargoSmart Limited, a global shipment management information network based in Hong Kong.

Both interviews revealed insights that need to be shared with individual businesses with intent to leverage these technologies among various supply chain management business process focused challenges.

The first is one we have shared often, IoT and Blockchain are not solely an end state. They are new advancedtechnology enablers for solving specific or complex business process challenges in the context of B2B stakeholders. In the case of CargoSmart, it will be the global-wide movement and control of hazardous ocean container cargo that have significant safety and liability concerns.

Best-of-breed, start-ups and even some enterprise tech companies sometimes fail to comprehend that the target audience of such technologies  is not solely the internal IT or tech development group but rather line-of-business and functional supply chain leadership. Hyping both technologies on social media or in conferences as the end-all solution to all business problems is an admission of not understanding your target buyer audience and their specific needs.  Hyping technology as the end-all responds to an audience that sometimes does not understand nor care about the latest and greatest technology. That might sound harsh, but it is reality.  Supply chain teams deal with realities of controlling and decision-making needs that occur around the clock, with significant implications, nearly every day.  What they want to know about is how to make such decisions with better information context, more awareness and speed. What type of technology that is can  be agnostic if it can add significant benefit.

Anyone directly involved in global trade understands complexity managed by systems that were developed decades ago. Latency of shipment information is a gnawing problem, and information directly related to hazardous cargo could take upwards of a week to fully process.  That is critical information that is laggard to operational and decision-making needs. Consider that a lot of shipping information is currently transmitted in EDI messaging format and includes single factor data and not currently intended to all key participants of the process. That is an opportunity area and that is where CargoSmart, and other logistics services providers are headed with the assistance of Oracle.

Another factor is gaining learning from the past.

I am not shy in admitting my remembrance of previous bar coding, RFID and other technology-driven mandates that were premature to comprehending all of the cost, scalability and deployment challenges needing to be solved and to certain maturity limitations of the technology. In each case, businesses eventually gained learning and insight after pilot implementations, added collaboration and understanding of supplier and customer stakeholder interests in data security and who ultimately gains meaningful benefits for the technology.

Again, it is balancing the technology hype to the overall process realities while factoring time for process maturity and learning.  History is a profound teacher of both the past and the future.

Second, in age of virtual networking and open information, word quickly gets around about where certain advanced technologies have promise but may need additional development to be accomplished, or what business cases are best to start an early initiative that can have more managed scope. That is why analysts and management consultants exist, to add counsul to knowledge awareness

CargoSmart is addressing deployment of blockchain to control shipment information that is a relatively smaller portion of overall global shipment data yet has significant operational consequences and potential liabilities for shipping carriers, insurance companies and other services participants.

Our readers should take note that in each of Oracle’s IoT and Blockchain new product announcements have specific business use cases and specific target audiences in-mind. Once more, the applications are not solely focused on the technology, but the overall business process information and decision-making applications-based intersections.  Over time, customers, stakeholder and service partner added deployments will add to the knowledge base. Over time, the technology will become more mainstream and understood. For RFID, the process took a decade. For IoT or Blockchain, the adoption cycle will be far less because technology is far better and more compelling in addressing supply chain process and decision-making challenges.

Supply Chain Matters will provide added insights related to OpenWorld during the week.


Bob Ferrari

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