Though the technology of blockchain has been in the spotlight over the last few years, it can be argued that to many businesses it still is an enigma - a tech jargon expected to have overarching benefits, but hard to figure out nonetheless. The trouble lies in figuring out an exact process through which blockchain could be adopted without causing a splash in the organizational setup in place.
A recent SAP study showed that 92% of all its survey respondents held a favorable view towards blockchain, but a measly 3% of them were actually using blockchain in production today. The gap between the ‘interested’ and the ‘doers’ is ostensible, and to bridge the divide requires a precise definition of the value blockchain could bring to a business - possibly in terms of growth, visibility, and transparency.
In light of this, SAP announced today that it plans to expand its SAP Leonardo Blockchain solutions to create immediate business value for its customers. “When it comes to blockchain, there are a few things to consider. One is technology, which helps us to create blockchain related applications. The other thing that we need to consider, and what is often overlooked, is the existing co-application that the company already has,” said Torsten Zube, VP and Head of Blockchain at SAP. “It doesn’t make sense to create something when the company has existing processes, applications and solutions already in place.”
SAP looks to provide its customers an environment where they can innovate and brainstorm ideas on how they would like to participate in a business network, and what would be required from their side to expand the existing applications. “It is not just about sharing data on blockchain, but you would also have to connect it to the real world businesses,” said Zube.
The SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain is a blockchain-as-a-service, which empowers its clients and partners to make blockchain actionable and beneficial to their business. “We have introduced a blockchain co-innovation program with 65 customers participating in it, where we leverage the ecosystem to identify certain interests they have - the sweet spots - and try adding value to it,” said Zube.
This has led to businesses to use blockchain across different segments of manufacturing and supply chain, in industries like transportation, food, and pharmaceuticals. In a move without precedence, U.S. sausage maker Johnsonville LLC is using blockchain to trace the origin of products across the supply chain, increasing transparency and providing visibility from farm-to-fork.
The company is now equipping its customers with enterprise related blockchain consortiums Hyperledger Fabric and MultiChain, which would let customers “tailor their blockchain solutions to their specific business needs,” according to Zube. “We deeply believe in a technology-agnostic approach and therefore plan to provide even more blockchain technologies on SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain in the future to ensure our offering always meets our customers’ changing requirements.”
SAP has launched the SAP HANA Blockchain service, which makes data management easy by providing a unified view on all transactional enterprise data, irrespective of where the data resides - be it in the core systems or in the blockchain itself. This allows businesses to develop applications on top of the database technology, without worrying about the underlying complexities that come with creating multiple blockchain based systems and networks.
Zube spoke about three steps to cementing blockchain in the mainstream rhetoric - developing technology to enable the ecosystem to leverage blockchain capability, a clear commitment to working as a group and extending blockchain capability, and finally to innovate together by creating a consortium and further helping develop blockchain use-cases.
In this regard, SAP has launched a global blockchain consortium with Airbus, Amkor, FLEX, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel Corporation, and UPS being the initial founding members. The consortium looks to push for open industry standards, drive technology-agnostic business networks, and lead the conversation on topics like data sharing governance and approaches for specific industry.
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