Candidates aiming for next-gen procurement jobs and supply chain jobs are being urged to think realistically about the supposed benefits blockchain technology.

Supply chain and procurement recruitment specialists know that technology is drastically changing the skills sets that candidates for these jobs must master. But while there has been a good deal of enthusiasm for the future application of blockchain technology to supply chain and procurement functions, the procurement digitalist Bertrand Maltaverne advises caution.

A form of digital trust, based on peer-to-peer, decentralised data management, blockchain encodes this information in links along a chain. The independent parties or “nodes” that operate across the network are distributed rather than being centralised, making it virtually impossible to tamper with data, as every single one of the nodes would have to be orchestrated simultaneously to permit any change.

It also offers a uniquely secure method of record keeping and data management. “Miners”, for example, must verify each new record and establish a consensus over whether to permit a new record, or block, to be entered into the chain. If agreed, the new block is linked to the previous one, so that the entire chain would have to be edited if a block were to be modified or removed, rendering the data encoded virtually immutable.

But the advantages come with drawbacks. Blockchain tech is slow: each node stores all the data encoded in the blockchain, meaning that systems and processes will slow down as the chain grows. As matters stand, blockchain would rapidly go into meltdown if it attempted to track the origin of materials and parts in every tier of a big firm’s supply chain.

Forthcoming innovations may rectify these problems, but they’re still under development. As Maltaverne puts it, “Blockchain is undoubtedly a powerful and exciting technology, but it is not yet fully mature and has several limitations, which explains why it still is far from being widely adopted, despite all the hype surrounding it.”

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