Oracle rolls out blockchain-based business apps

After announcing its blockchain-as-a-service cloud earlier this year, Oracle has now released several specific supply chain-oriented applications that run on the distributed ledger technology.

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Oracle has announced a suite of SaaS applications based on its Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service for the purpose of tracing and tracking supply chains through a transparent distributed ledger.

The four new cloud-based apps, unveiled at Oracle's OpenWorld conference this week, are aimed at providing end-to-end traceability of transported goods, confirming the origins of the parts that make up those products and creating an auditable log for warranty and liability claims. One application, an intelligent "cold chain" service, tracks temperature-controlled products in a supply chain, such as pharmaceuticals and food, integrating with IoT devices embedded in those shipments.

"These blockchain applications work seamlessly with existing Oracle Cloud Applications and are out-of-the-box ready with pre-built integrations and business network templates for common business processes," Rick Jewell, Oracle's senior vice president of Supply Chain & Manufacturing Cloud Applications, said in a statement.

Oracle first announced its blockchain cloud service in July; it was one of a half dozen major tech companies that have announced blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) offerings over the past two years. That list includes IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, SAP and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), among others; they are pushing BaaS for first-time enterprise adopters who want to enable integration with existing enterprise software and cloud services.

tradelens blockchain supply chain IBM, Maersk

Maersk has partnered with IBM to use its BaaS service to track international shipments on an electronic distributed ledger.

Oracle's BaaS includes Supply Chain Management (SCM Cloud), which is used for creating a digital trail during procurement, manufacturing, and transportation of goods; Enterprise Resource Management; and Warranty and Usage Tracking.

Along with cross-border financial transactions, supply chain has been cited as one of the top uses for blockchain distributed ledger technology, which creates an immutable record that can be seen by anyone internal or external to a company with authorization to access the network.

The industry standard for supply chain-management today does not offer one, real-time view of all transactions to all the parties involved in the supply chain, according to  Joseph Francis, a principal director for innovation at industry consultancy Accenture. Blockchain can eliminate processing costs by offering all parties in the supply chain a single, near real-time view of the data – a "master ledger."

Because it creates a transparent trail for all involved in a supply chain to see, blockchain can eliminate charges from any major logistics EDI gateways, which will run typically cost participants $5 to $7 per transaction, and costs for freight payment and audit providers can run as much as $10 or more per invoice, Francis said. One supply chain administration phenomenon that detracts from efficiency – and adds to the cost – is known as mirroring.

Mirroring occurs when documents such as a bill of laden or invoice are simultaneously in possession of a shipper, a receiver, a customer and others involved in the supply chain. The duplication of documents before an account is settled creates inventory in the seller's systems, including receipts for the buyer, proof of delivery, invoices, payment and payment confirmations.

Beer maker Alpha Acid Brewing in Belmont, Calif., said it's currently using Oracle's Intelligent Track and Trace blockchain application to follow ingredients, such as hops, malt and yeast, along a supply chain.

"Consumers are better informed than ever before and are increasingly interested in what is in the products they consume," Kyle Bozicevic, owner of Alpha Acid, said in a statement. "We can now track materials and premium ingredients from our suppliers and analyze sensor data from the production process for each batch."

Other companies already using Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service include Arab Jordan Investment Bank, CargoSmart, SERES, Certified Origins, Indian Oil, Intelipost, MTO, Neurosoft, Nigeria Customs, Sofbang, Solar Site Design and TradeFin.

CargoSmart said it's using Oracle's Intelligent Track and Trace application as its digital platform for shipment documentation.

"In fact, we expect a 65% reduction in the amount of time required to collect, consolidate, and confirm data from multiple parties," Lionel Louie, chief commercial officer for CargoSmart, said in a statement. "We also hope to streamline data from different documents by leveraging Oracle Intelligent Track and Trace."

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