Challenges behind the “revolutionary” technology
Blockchain has been one of the most-hyped technologies of the last decade. Market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts company spending on blockchain to reach nearly $4.3B in 2020 and grow to $14.4B by 2023.1. But as long the blockchain tendency is catching the eye at first reading, some challenges and limitations float, which could not only impact its rapid development, they may also affect the business, the production and the efficiency of the manufacturing processes at all.
Similar to the other technologies, blockchain is not created to replace the existing systems – it has to work with them without increasing the complexity of the processes. The integration with ERP, IoT, barcoding, enterprise/ supply software and etc. is a complex process. That exactly interoperability is one of the challenges in front the blockchain technology. No matter how advanced is that technology, if it couldn`t work and collaborate with all already used systems, it becomes unusable. Issues with integration could affect the budget and it is important to be as seamless as possible.
Here comes another aspect of the problem – employees` ability to manage the processes with blockchain technology. As it was mentioned, this technology has to be implemented in the existing systems, but actually, the blockchain leads to creating entirely new processes. In most cases, this needs due to factors such as misunderstanding of the technology by employees lead to issues in the production process and even incomplete projects to use the technology. Some describe the blockchain as a “revolutionary” and set too ambitious scope, but combined with the lack of standards and immaturity, this could have a detrimental effect on the company`s ROI and its overall results.
As we talk about employees` capability to manage the technology, it can be said that the next challenge which blockchain face is privacy leakage. It was mentioned that the typical ERP systems do not support the blockchain. Because of that, the company needs to outsource the new application`s development for its particular supply chain, which is directly related to hiring a third party`s services. This put the company`s data at direct risk of privacy leakage. If the business wants to prevent such a situation, it could bet on in-house production. The risks, in this case, are closely related to the previous topic – employees` skills to cooperate and learn to use the technology. Handling this required a range of software skills, understanding of the economic and business issues and of the underlying supply chain setup.
Regarding the issue of the correctness of entered data, the transparent attribute of this technology “generates” the next challenge – a user cannot easily modify any entered record. The quality of data is not guaranteed just by the immutability of the blockchain. In case when the system for recording information of supply chain partner is insecure, then the use of blockchain can hamper the user and have detrimental impact.
The pharmaceutical industry is constantly growing and moving in the direction of innovation and development. However, when a member of the supply chain is choosing the technology that will manage his processes in the future and could affect his partnerships, he must make an informed and objective choice based on an analysis of all aspects of the technology.
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