Evaluating the Role of IoT and Blockchain in Transportation
Let’s assume IoT platforms are only as valuable as the data they generate. If that’s the case, blockchain technology might help enterprises exploit that data further.
The digital ledgering technology provides a clear way of logging and exchanging data securely among various members of an ecosystem. As a concept, this sounds like a no-brainer in the decentralized, increasingly digital economy. In the modern era, there is growing focus on customer experience, and where many different players in a supply chain may directly or indirectly impact customer experience. The challenge with blockchain over the years, however, has been that companies across industry verticals were not always sure what it was or how to use it. In addition, organizations mulling the use of blockchain must navigate how they could benefit from participating in ecosystems where data was shared more openly while also ensuring data entering into the ledger was accurate in the first place.
“The public perception from early news reports about blockchain was mostly about its place in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and not as a decentralized, distributed asset exchange technology for sharing data with partners,” said Christian Reichenbach, global digital advisor at HPE. “The perception has started to change such that when we talk to enterprises, it has gone from being a technology that they were totally unfamiliar with to one where they understand the core ingredients of a blockchain solutions and can better assess it.”
While that lack of understanding remains a barrier to adoption of blockchain technology by some companies, another adoption hurdle is rooted in the willingness of companies to participate in more open ecosystems where data generated from one company’s IoT network, for example, could be shared with others in the ecosystem to solve common problems.
“I think there is still something that is not understood by all companies — that blockchain is a team sport,” Reichenbach said. “It is an open system and for open connected use cases, something where organizations want to collaborate with each other, and sometimes this is still not in the mindset of some of the enterprises today.”
The mindset has evolved to allow more investment in blockchain in industries like transportation and logistics. For example, companies in logistics are accustomed to working with various intermediaries to ship and deliver packages. From there, Reichenbach said, it has been a short jump to understanding how sharing data generated from one company’s IoT sensors at a port, in a warehouse or on a delivery truck could be shared with others in the supply chain to refine processes and provide better customer experiences.
As such, transportation and logistics is one of the sectors in which more companies have been embarking on proof-of-concept testing of use cases in IoT architectures join with blockchain to share encrypted data between parties. Reichenbach said.
“There is definitely deeper integration happening between IoT and blockchain,” he added.