Gary Storr, General Manager of Trust Your Supplier by ChainYard, explained to us some of the challenges that the supplier information management industry is facing with disparate sources of information and the role blockchain can help to mitigate them. In this podcast you will hear how Trust Your Supplier creates a trusted source of supplier information and digital identity that simplifies and accelerates supplier onboarding, lifecycle management and the seamless exchange of information.
What is blockchain?
For Gary the best way to explain what is blockchain is what it isn’t. Blockchain is not a cryptocurrency, it’s a technology. It isn’t a programming language. Blockchain is a ledger that is organised in a sequence of blocks that are chained together. It is distributed and it’s immutable. Blockchain is highly secure and decentralised, thus allowing for a multitude of participants to store information on the blockchain within the ledger. Security is assured by encryption and hashing technology making it impenetrable from current day hacking.
What is ChainYard?
IBM is a close partner to IT People Company, so when Sai noticed that blockchain was taking off he decided to spun off a new organisation called ChainYard with the intent for it to be a service organisation providing IT consulting services in and around blockchain.
Within a few years of launching ChainYard, Sai recognised there was an opportunity to create commercial applications on blockchain to address serious needs within the enterprise, such as Trust Your Supplier.
ChainYard is now a 5 years old organisation with 80 staff providing blockchain services and products.
Challenges of the supplier information management industry
Supplier information management is about getting information on a supplier. It is essentially an identity question which blockchain is particularly good at with regards to establishing an identity and to protecting it.
Traditional enterprises have traditional systems where identities are very segmented. It isn’t unusual for large supplier to have hundreds of identities within the system architecture. This is highly unmanageable. Systems could be storing, for a single identity, multiple versions of the truth for a contact with varying degrees of accuracy. Questions regarding data privacy are another issue.
Coming out of an enterprise and looking at the market a supplier would want to have a single identity as it deals with a number of customers. Similarly to a driver’s license or to a passport you want a single identity to be used across the value chain.
Consequently, there is an opportunity for efficiency, for speed, for reduction of cost, for reduction of risk and for compliance.
Trust Your Supplier (TYP)
IBM, a partner of ChainYard, recognised that there were some pain points within its supplier information. Both IBM and ChainYard expressed the desire to leverage their respective blockchain expertise to tackle those challenges. Trust Your Supplier was thus born to tackle not just IBM’s supplier identity issues, its supplier qualification and lifecycle management issues but also those of enterprises across industries in a decentralised manner.
Within its capacity as a partner IBM teams from TradeLens and Food Trust have contributed to the expertise and development of Trust Your Supplier.
With Trust Your Supplier, every supplier is provided with an identity on a blockchain platform. Provide them with easy tools and applications for them to access and process that identity in a meaningful way.
It allows organisation to discover, identify, qualify, on board and manage relationships with suppliers in a decentralised manner with a single version of the truth.
Trust Your Supplier application is in production for the last 18 months and is used by tens of thousands of users worldwide.
Trust Your Supplier’s underlying architecture, is designed to be interconnected with other networks. It enables to be the identity layer for networks of networks. Whilst TYP is built on Hyperledger Fabric they could theoretically roll out on other blockchain flavours.
From a buyer perspective the procurement officer has a reduced administrative burden thanks to a single version of the truth concerning his/her suppliers. In the past information on suppliers would come from disparate sources scattered around their architecture. This reduced administrative burden, reduces cycle time and in turn reduces costs.
From a supplier perspective their benefits are twofold. (1) Similarly, to the buyer side they get a reduced administrative burden as they don’t have to share the same information repeatedly to their customers. They have one profile with all the information pertinent to that profile published on the blockchain. (2) The second benefit is that as they’re on this digital marketplace they can be discovered and gain new business opportunities.
Third parties like D&B, EcoVadis and others validate supplier records, help fill in missing information and perform watch-list screenings while banks validate account information and financial health. D&B reports are aggregated into the application where supplier sovereign information is accessible along the ones from EcoVadis and other authoritative sources providing a one snapshot on that supplier.
Vodafone, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia and Schneider Electric are some of the early participants on Trust Your Supplier. Each of these leading organisations have seeded the TYS network with their supplier base. They have been offered a seat on the board of governors and access to the network at no cost. In return they onboard their suppliers and help inform the direction of new product features and provide guidance in how to evolve the network in the appropriate way.
COVID19 and Trust Your Supplier
In March 2020 there was a recognition that PPE was in short supply from masks, gloves, ventilators and other medical equipment. There was a growing need, particularly for health care organisations to find providers of PPE equipment from a reliable source. TYP partnered with a number of trusted suppliers and health care organisations to provide that trusted source of PPEs.