BiTA announces Think Tanks, expects first standards to be available by end of year

Chris Burruss, left, president of BiTA, and Mitch Hixon, vp of member engagement for BiTA, talk to the roughly 350 members in attendance at the BiTA Spring Symposium at the Georgia International Conference Center in Atlanta.

In addition to technical committees and working groups, members of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) will have the opportunity to participate in new Think Tanks as part of the effort to develop blockchain outcomes for the industry.

The announcement of the Think Tanks was part of an Alliance update provided by Chris Burruss, president of BiTA, and Mitch Hixon, vice president of membership engagement, during the opening session of the BiTA Spring Symposium, being held on Monday at the Georgia International Conference Center in Atlanta.

“Now is our time, [but] who is our?” Hixon asked the 371 registered attendees. “It’s not BiTA, but the industry, collectively.”

Hixon repeatedly emphasized that BiTA works for its members and the new Think Tanks would follow that same path. “I can’t lead and influence, I can only moderate,” he said, adding that the concept behind the Think Tanks is to “identify and further identify the pain points.”

“I’ve never seen in my lifetime, and I’ve spent my entire career in the industry, a wave like we’re seeing today [with blockchain],” Hixon, who has spent 40 years in the industry, noted.

Hixon said the Think Tanks will work closely with the BiTA Standards Council as they work through the industry pain points. Each Think Tank will have 9 participants “to define issues for potential blockchain solutions.”

“The success of the groups will come from us, from you,” he told the audience.

Topics the Think Tanks may address are smart payments, insurance, detention, driver marketplace/universal driver ID/passport, freight billing and load tender/compliance.

The 5 Think Tanks are:

  • Risk management
  • Finance/business administration
  • Operations/asset utilization
  • Driver marketplace
  • Supply chain marketplace

The risk management and finance/business administration Think Tanks will kick off on June 1; the supply chain marketplace Think Tank will begin on June 8 and the remaining two will start on June 15. Hixon said there are still opportunities for BiTA members interested in joining one of the Think Tanks to get involved.

“We’re coming to the end of Phase 1 [of BiTA], which was the establishment of the organization,” he said. “We’re moving into Phase 2, which is turning it over [to members].”

Before Hixon took the stage, Burruss provided a quick update on BiTA and announced the official launch of the BiTA Standards Council.

“Standards are important because if industry doesn’t set the stage for success, what happens?” he asked. “Government gets involved and that’s something we don’t want to happen.”

In response to a pointed question about government involvement later in the session, Burruss noted he didn’t think Washington would regulate blockchain in the industry. “If we are successful in getting standards to sort of regulate ourselves, I’d say no [to government involvement],” he said.

The development of a separate Standards organization is part of the goal to ensure BiTA meets member needs, Burruss noted. “One thing that is clear to me [from my career experience] is that standards get lost in the larger organization,” the veteran association leader said. “We don’t want to see that happen to BiTA.”

The Standards Council will work to:

  • Improve trust and enable transparency in the field of transportation logistics
  • Drive technological efficiency, ideally resulting in cost savings for those who adopt the approaches defined by BiTA
  • While not defining a single technology solution, BiTA will seek interoperability and compatibility between solutions used across the industry.

BiTA announced earlier this year that BiTA Standards will be open and free to use for anyone interested. There will be no licensing fee or any other requirement for their use. There should be some standards published before the end of the year, Burruss said, probably focused on the data side initially.

Burruss said the second phase that BiTA is entering is about developing more member engagement, and Hixon’s addition to the Alliance is part of that. To date, BiTA has received over 2,000 applications for membership with 400 paid members representing a variety of industry demographics, from asset-based carriers to 3PLs, technology partners and industry participants such as law firms, insurance and finance companies. There has also been interest from other blockchain organizations and government such as the Department of Defense and FEMA, which is interested in how blockchain could assist in relief operations.

“I view us as the mechanics of the bus,” Burruss said of member engagement. “You guys are the bus drivers.”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.