Andrea Redaelli from Hugo Boss presented a blockchain use case on tracking goods in the supply chain. Forget bitcoin, he says. Instead, think about blockchain as a distributed ledger that shows in a transparent way the ownership and the transfer of ownership of goods among peers in the same network. There is no intermediary involved.

There is a growing number of blockchain networks up and running today. From just 41 projects in 2016 to more than 200 so far in 2017. And investment in blockchain has soared from $250m to almost $3.5bn. Hugo Boss itself is at an early stage in using blockchain.

One example is in the food industry where Agri-Digital is trying to increase transparency and trust in the agri supply chain by using blockchain. Maersk is doing a similar project to track and protect valuable assets throughout their lifetime journey. Everledger tracks diamonds!

Blockchain can help us put the customer at the centre of our activities, Redaelli says. Clients want products, information and services. The digital experience enables easier sharing of real-time information. Being an early adopter offers competitive advantages, he says.

It’s about supply and products, data and ownership. Tracking and information. Inventory management and tax compliance are all made easier. Trust in the brand is enhanced. We can show where products are sourced from – information that customers want to know, he adds.

This works even at the level of tracking the source of the cotton used in products – and beyond that, the cotton picker, the harvest date and a lot of other data – all validated.

Different levels of information and different permissions make it possible to protect commercially-sensitive information.

Customers can recognise that Hugo Boss products are genuine and have confidence in the sourcing of materials used.
But blockchain is just one trending technology at the moment: others are nanotechnology, circular economies, smart cities, autonomous vehicles – by connecting different technologies we can create new and better experiences, he says.

Blockchain, by creating a digital passport for products, can be a part of supporting your business into the future.
The authenticity of the information is the foundation of blockchain’s advantages. Ultimately it’s about authenticating a process and the various linkages through a process. It supports the auditing system and can play an important part in social responsibility, such as safeguarding against child labour.

Blockchain is not a single-company product. It itself is an evolving network.

Key highlights and case studies from SCF Forum 2017