Odile Panciatici, VP Blockchain project, Groupe Renault
Difficult to form an opinion on the blockchain subject when you read everything and its opposite about this technology!
While William Mougayar writes,“The blockchain cannot be described just as a revolution. It is a tsunami-like phenomenon, which progresses slowly and gradually envelops everything in its path by the force of its progression.", The New Digital Factory says it poses serious problems of trust and security "With the blockchain, we are asked to believe in the technology only: "code is law", in short on a system based on a stool with one foot, or even one and a half (the decentralised organisation)!"
A revolution of the future or a vast speculative illusion?
What is sure is that the phenomenon is growing day by day and that this technology which had started in the financial field - with significant impacts - is used more and more in other areas and industries. Its demonstrated reputation for security and the transparency it induces meet the high expectations of today's western societies. Our need to have complete visibility into the origins of all our consumer goods for health or ethical purposes is increasing every year and this growth is not about to stop. This technology is a revolutionary brick in the digital transformation of companies.
Blockchain has particular application context: when people need a certification that something did happen on the one hand, when processes are complex and involve several actors on the other side.
"The cloud has changed the way security teams work in this new world of unlimited speed and scale"
The backbone of this technology lies fundamentally in the network exploiting it.
The primary difficulty in implementing a blockchain lies in the creation of this network and in the ability to federate companies to work in collaboration and move from a traditional customer-supplier relationship to a partnership relationship, with an unusual increase of information transparency or process sharing. We go from a centralised network with a master/slave relationship to a decentralised flat network where relations are made in peer to peer.
With the blockchain, there are no more unclear settlements, but the traceability of the facts shared by the involved people and organisation. This increase in transparency is also an increasing trend, yet questions arise whether companies are ready for this breakthrough. We are no longer talking about a simple digital technology but a utterly imperative change of mindset, assuming companies want to continue to exist on competitive markets. Consider, for instance, the investments of China gathering more than a billion euros for the coming years.
Most companies have operated or are operating their digital transformation today. It is indeed complicated to make a real digital transformation and not merely realizing a digitalisation of the existing processes. With blockchain technology, we go beyond. A blockchain project is a collaborative multi-company digital project. Again, this is quite a challenge in the evolution of our operating methods which are becoming much more cooperative with the stake of possible pooling of project development costs and thereby an opportunity to go faster in the digital transformation. Besides, it is an interactive cycle where the change brought by blockchain projects reflects on the digital transformation of each company involved.
Blockchain will also profoundly transform processes. We can speak here of "lean ecosystem process" like the lean manufacturing known in the industry. By design, the blockchain eliminates many breaks in the transmission of data between members of the network. We are no longer in the searching for information but in the direct and instant sharing of the data with the possibility, via smart contracts for instance, to have automatic alerts in real-time of data change! We, therefore, find here a steady source of productivity and a reduction of low added value tasks. The second breakthrough, therefore, lies in the operational excellence approach made possible by the technology, with the stake of evolution of skills towards professions with higher added value.
The third breakthrough and probably the most valuable is the creation of new shared data.
Note that some data are protected by intellectual property. It can be shared, once encrypted and stored on the blockchain. A program called smart contract is then able to decipher the hidden values and generate new data.
We thus constitute a "collective intelligence" which brings new values to allow companies to create new businesses or to go much further in existing ones. Of course, artificial intelligence will be an asset in structuring this new data to make a prediction, even prescription. This latest breakthrough is the one that opens new doors to the future and innovation of industries.
Blockchain is the catalyst for an in-depth transformation of each company, and the way companies work together.
Blockchain technology provides this data certification, this transparency in operations and the trust that has been shaken by the various scandals that have affected industries.
Blockchain has a demonstrated reputation of trust and security as observed on the first use cases applied in production. The technology holds amazing promises that will allow the industry to tackle the upcoming challenges faced by the industry.