German software giant SAP SE said Wednesday it will team with the British financial IT firm Everledger Ltd. to build blockchain capabilities into its cloud-based business network, a move that could help logistics users improve data security and generate more accurate tracking and tracing of goods.
Adding blockchain technology to SAP Ariba applications and the Ariba Network could transform global supply chains just as it is already impacting industries such as banking and insurance, agriculture, energy, healthcare, and media, the company said.
At its core, blockchain is a digital ledger that can be used to drive business processes involving multiple parties, upending the way goods and services are traded, SAP said. "One of the things blockchain does is facilitate greater visibility and trust," Joe Fox, senior vice president for business development and strategy at SAP Ariba, said in a release. "In embedding it across our applications and network, we can enable supply chains that are smarter, faster, and more transparent from sourcing all the way through settlement."
SAP Ariba will develop its blockchain tools by joining forces with Everledger, a London-based IT company that provides technology services to the banking and financial services industry. Everledger securely captures the defining characteristics of valuable objects such as diamonds and creates a digital thumbprint of the asset that is stored on the blockchain. This information—including history, transport, events, and ownership—is relied upon by multiple stakeholders across global supply chains to verify authenticity.
Blockchain has been gaining traction in logistics over the past year through initiatives such as a $2.3 million push by Dutch supply chain firms to apply the technology to the country's logistics sector, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s decision to use the software to track its food shipments in China, and the announcement by Danish shipping giant Maersk Line that it had teamed with IBM Corp. to use blockchain to speed the flow of data through its global supply chain.