Three ways blockchain can bolster ERP

By augmenting existing data processes, blockchain technology has the potential to address some of the thorniest problems facing businesses today.

Providing an increased level of transparency, security and auditability, blockchain is able to deliver value to businesses, in tandem with existing ERP systems and data architectures.

Here are three ways blockchain can bolster ERP:

Ensuring compliance

With the introduction of GDPR, it has become more important than ever that businesses retain control of their data. When data is stored across multiple disparate spreadsheets, this becomes next to impossible.

Blockchain-enabled ERP represents one solution to this conundrum. Utilising the functionality of private, permissioned blockchain, enterprises can ensure data is stored and exchanged in an ethical and secure manner.

Private blockchain networks are open only to authorised participants, as dictated by the network operator. They are designed to allow the secure exchange of data within an organisation or between an organisation and a trusted third-party.

The granular access control afforded by private, permissioned blockchain means that data can only be viewed by and exchanged between those for whom it is role-relevant. By restricting access to specific data to a handful of relevant individuals, blockchain automatically mandates ethical data-handling practices.

By minimising the possibility that customer and partner data falls into the wrong hands, blockchain can ensure businesses remain GDPR compliant, and avoid the considerable penalties attached to a breach.

Increasing auditability

The quantity of data generated in the coming years is set to grow at an exponential rate. The key to gaining business advantage will be in managing this information in the most effective way.

Data is at the heart of all business decision making, so it’s vital businesses are able to trust that their data is both accurate and not subject to tampering. Retaining full visibility using a blockchain-enabled ERP system is one way to ensure business data is trustworthy.

Blockchain creates a transparent and indisputable log of data additions, transactions and changes, providing an end-to-end audit trail. This means that businesses can see precisely when a piece of data was introduced into the system, who has access to it, and whether any alterations have been made.

The consensus algorithms at the heart of blockchain technology ensure that the system (and the data contained within) is near impossible to tamper with or corrupt. Blockchain creates a single version of the truth, providing a strong and trustworthy foundation of data on which businesses can base critical decisions.

Driving transparency in the supply chain

Though blockchain is still in its relative infancy, it’s already having a tangible impact in the manufacturing and supply chain sector. Organisations are using the technology alongside existing ERP systems to boost transparency and coordination across sprawling supply chain networks.

The technology allows organisations to track a product through multiple stages of the supply chain in an efficient and reliable manner, as it passes through multiple stages and even locations, over several months.

This comprehensive audit trail allows businesses to move products through customs swiftly, track fresh produce to identify the source of contamination, and even trace the movements of highly valuable and sensitive items. By making supply chain processes transparent and paperless, blockchain has the potential to both cut costs and drive productivity.

Many companies are already using blockchain technology to enhance their supply chains. For example, Viant, an Ethereum-based platform for building supply chains, partnered with WWF to track tuna from the moment it’s caught, until it reaches the shop floor. With the industry rife with corruption and accusations surrounding poor animal welfare standards, the ability to track the process from start to finish is a huge step towards reducing the environmental impact of fishing.

Though still regarded as an emerging technology, blockchain is becoming an increasing presence in enterprise IT, especially in the supply chain and logistics sector. According to recent figures from Deloitte, a huge 98 per cent of UK businesses have either already adopted a blockchain solution or intend to do so at some point in the future.

The technology’s core characteristics and functionalities mean that it’s well equipped to augment existing ERP systems and data architectures, bolstering transparency and auditability, and ensuring businesses remain regulation compliant.

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