Without Data Standards, Blockchain Technology Is Irrelevant
Though blockchain has displayed great promise in the logistics industry like technology, mainstream blockchain adoption has been left wanting. This resistance to adoption comes from the requirement for data standardization. Without proper data standards, blockchain within supply chains would not operate, as data being shared cannot be interoperable. Standards organization GS1 US has been active in the blockchain circuit, interjecting data standards that could ultimately lead companies to develop their blockchain pilot projects across the data frameworks.
“The goal of GS1 standards is to improve traceability within supply chains by transparently capturing and transferring data. The idea is to identify data captures and ultimately share that information with trading partners in a standardized fashion,” said Otto in a statement. “This is hard if companies are creating proprietary numbering systems for their items and then sharing that via blockchain. Without standardization, those numbers do not mean anything downstream.” With its standards, GS1 is striving to build a common global language of business that industries can agree upon, producing seamless interoperability closer to reality.
“Without standardization, data across the supply chain becomes meaningless. If there is a recall for a product and companies speak in different languages, then even with access to all the information, companies will have no idea what it means,” said Otto in a statement. In that context, GS1 standards can be used in a blockchain ecosystem to optimize data sharing. For instance, the EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) standard enables supply chain associates to capture transactional data about supply chain events related to product movement.
Associated trading allies get access to this data. EPCIS is in use today over various industries. It supports document the product’s chain of custody over trading associate networks when utilized for blockchain. In March, GS1 declared a guideline that would serve as an educational resource, allowing supply chain visibility in blockchain implementation by leveraging GS1 standards. Otto revealed that the development of the guidelines took about six months. This expedited improvement was possible due to visibility data standards that existed within GS1, which was leveraged and applied for blockchain purposes.
“We had a large group of users that helped us develop these standards. I think it’s important to know this isn’t something that gets developed in a vacuum. You have that cross-industry discussion group, which has 100 to 150 representatives from about 95 different companies that helped us put together this guideline,” said Otto in a statement.
This has assured that user feedback remains consistently positive. Nevertheless, the guidelines will proceed to develop based on use cases. Otto contended that the intention was to add to the document every time the industry comes up with a new blockchain use case that requires recognition.