- IBM launched a new blockchain-enabled supplier management platform called Trust Your Supplier, according to a press release emailed to Supply Chain Dive. The service will digitize and secure various manual and/or paper-based supplier information, qualifications, onboarding and management processes, which IBM Procurement believes could reduce its own supplier onboarding time by 70% to 80% and administrative costs by 50%.
- "Trust Your Supplier creates a digital passport for supplier identity on the blockchain network that allows suppliers to share information with any permissioned buyer on the network," according to the release. In addition, it is compatible with IBM's Supply Chain Business Network and can "connect existing procurement business networks," so users won't have to re-enter data across multiple systems to use the product.
- Trust Your Supplier was established in consultation with blockchain consulting firm Chainyard and currently includes major tech, pharmaceutical, beverage and manufacturing firms Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia, Schneider Electric and Vodafone as founding members. According to the release, IBM is onboarding 4,000 of its own suppliers to the platform in the coming months and plans for a full commercial rollout in late Q3 2019.
IBM has long been involved in blockchain pilots with partners across the supply chain, from tracking food and beverage products with nationwide grocers to container ships through its shared TradeLens platform with Maersk.
According to a McKinsey survey, "few companies [have] attempted more than ad-hoc projects to ensure that the methods they used to interact with suppliers, including forecasting, scheduling, and logistics processes, were optimized to minimize end-to-end cost." This is due in part to the fact that while many major firms have strong supplier management foundations in place, the processes for doing so can be fragmented and tend to rely heavily on manual data entry. This takes additional time, can create redundancies or inconsistencies in master data and can result in missed opportunities for generating more supplier value through network analysis, according to the report.
In a IBM Electronics Industry blog post written by Quentin Samelson, a senior managing consultant in IBM's Electronics Center of Competence, through Trust Your Supplier, companies "will be able to provide permissioned access (to companies wishing to purchase goods and/or services from them) to their regulatory, compliance, environmental, legal, and financial data." The platform's founding members are looking at this level of data integration to deliver productivity and cost savings for their respective businesses.
Between IBM's 18,000 suppliers, and those of the major partner firms listed above, the Trust Your Supplier platform stands to represent a significant test case for using blockchain to intake, process, secure and analyze supplier data in a way that could progressively deliver efficiency gains for all parties involved as it scales up.
By reducing the amount of time and effort it takes to accurately qualify and onboard suppliers (using information that is shared across the platform), firms could ensure they are getting the most value out of their networks throughout the entire supplier relationship lifecycle.
As the excitement around blockchain continues to grow in supply chain, Gartner predicts the technology will support the movement and tracking of $2 trillion worth of goods worldwide by 2023.