Blockchain as a tool of the future: Supply Chain applications

Innovative technological solutions for supply chain process management, traceability of agri-food products and enhancing the value of ‘Made in Italy’.

One of the terms most associated with ICT in recent years is blockchain, related all too often to cryptocurrency and much more rarely to the definition of what its potential might actually be. 

The path this technology is following and the ongoing efforts of legislators to understand and regulate it suggest that it may indeed be the ‘tool of the future’. The real challenge will be to look beyond the matter of economic transactions.

The citizens of the future, thanks to blockchain, will be able to send money, but also to share information, view and retrieve data, control access to personal information, and access traceability and transparency functions. Indeed, blockchain has the capacity to replace contracts, superfluous intermediaries, offer transparent and shared databases, and guarantee protection against deletion, tampering and revision. In this ideal world, every agreement, every process, every task and every payment could be registered and havea digital signature which, in turn, could be identified, validated, stored and finally shared. Individuals, organisations, machines and algorithms would freely interact with each other. Any situation in which the parties must necessarily interact, operating in an environment of low trust, each with their own needs and objectives, is a terrain where blockchain could express its immense potential.

One example is Supply Chains. These are in fact physiologically complex systems involving several actors, who carry out articulated processes of production, processing and distribution of products. The supply chains of the future will have to face the challenge of an increasingly decentralised way of working, offering products, services and guarantees on product traceability and a collaborative approach. 

This becomes particularly relevant when Supply Chains operate in the agrifood sector, one of the most important sectors for our country’s economy, where the products involved are the subject of a particularly close focus on the part of the end consumers. According to research carried out by the Smart Agrifood Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, the crucial role of data and the importance of traceability in this sector are well known to those working in this field, but there is still insufficient knowledge of blockchain technology and the solutions it offers in this regard.

Internationally, agrifood is the fourth largest sector for adoption of this technology. This means that the interest in the technology is very high and its applicability could lead to the achievement of important goals, especially with regard to Made in Italy products.

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