Enterprise software provider Oracle Corp. said Tuesday it will launch a suite of business-specific blockchain applications, bringing the hot technology another step closer to growing from industry buzzword to real-world tool.
Known as the Oracle Blockchain Applications Cloud, the suite of use-case-specific, software as a service (SaaS) applications are built to help customers increase trust and provide agility in transactions, and to enhance supply chain traceability and transparency.
Blockchain is the technology on every tech executive's lips in conversations and presentations on the trade show circuit this fall, pushing some observers to caution against a rush to see the concept as a panacea for logistics ills.
However, those challenges are very real and could cause expensive loss and delay without the proper solution, Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle warns. Modern supply chains generate millions of data points and thousands of daily transactions that need to be validated and confirmed, thus limiting the pace of business and exposing organizations to risk, Oracle says.
Blockchain solutions have the potential to help users surmount that hurdle by tracking their products through the supply chain on a distributed ledger to increase trust in business transactions, get better visibility across a multi-tier supply chain, accelerate product delivery and contract execution, and improve customer satisfaction, according to Oracle.
Oracle's new blockchain applications are designed to accelerate that process by offering four applications designed for specific use-cases, Bhagat Nainani, Oracle's group vice president for IoT Applications, said in an interview.
Those applications are called: Intelligent Track and Trace, Lot Lineage and Provenance, Intelligent Cold Chain, and Warranty and Usage Tracking. Each product is designed to solve common supply chain challenges, such as providing visibility across multiple tiers of trading partners in business cases for the automotive, electronics, and pharmaceutical sectors, Nainani said.
Other pain points that could be eased with blockchain include root-cause analysis for situations involving bad quality products, goods damaged in transportation, or delays in delivery, he said.
Because many companies experience headaches from similar problems, Oracle says it has prepared packaged solutions that can be applied with less system integration and customization work than competing products on the market, Nainani said.
Supply chain service providers currently offering blockchain solutions include the joint venture launched in January by Maersk Group and IBM Corp., while other firms like FedEx Corp. are running their own internal pilots, and yet other groups—such as the Blockchain in Transport Alliance—are cooperating to provide blockchain education and standards development work.
Oracle plans to roll out the track and trace module early in 2019, and the other three units by the end of that year. However, parts of the technology are already in use for pilot cases such as Alpha Acid Brewing, a Belmont, Calif.-based microbrewery that has deployed the Intelligent Track and Trace application to keep tabs on suppliers of ingredients such as hops, malt, and microbes, as well as its downstream retailers, Nainani said.
The blockchain suite launch is the latest result of Oracle's effort to provide supply chain software products, including updates in 2018 alone to its Transportation Management Cloud and Global Trade Management Cloud products, warehouse management system (WMS) software, and artificial intelligence (AI) for manufacturing.