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Author's profile photo Maggie Nelson

Blockchain: Why coders are the new cowboys

We have all been asked the question, “If you could go back in time and live in a particular era or decade, which would you choose?”  If you’re like me, you carefully weigh the pros and cons: The roaring 20s would offer great music, but also prohibition. In the Jurassic period, you could camp with dinosaurs, but that also means THERE WOULD BE DINOSAURS!  After internal debate, I tend to land on The Wild, Wild West.  Riding horses, shooting guns and exploring the undiscovered sounds like my kind of adventure.

Nevertheless, until Santa brings me a DeLorean for Christmas, I will not be time-traveling anytime in the near future. Presently, I feel like we are at a point in time that resembles the Wild, Wild West when it comes to blockchain.  Some articles akin blockchain to the internet in the 90s, but I prefer to live in a more sensationalized state of mind where coders are cowboys and the new gold is cryptocurrency.

Blockchain is not just Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies, it is so much more.  The power of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology has applications across every kind of digital record and transaction. The potential use cases are limitless which translates into a great new frontier (cue the Davy Crockett theme song).

Blockchain uniquely ties together the transformation of a digital ecosystem, and as such, the opportunity lies within industry innovation.  As Pat Bakey, President of SAP Industries, put it, “Blockchain’s innate versatility means that it truly has the ability to reshape nearly any industry if put to use correctly.”

The technology has significant potential just like the gold rush offered prospectors the opportunity of unimaginable fortunes. Similarly, while not all prospectors found fortune, blockchain is not a good fit for every process or transaction.  Converting this promising technology into a legitimate business reality will come from industry expertise and collaboration.

Within the Aerospace and Defense industry, conversations vary from, “What is blockchain?” to full blown co-innovation initiatives. A couple use cases our team is exploring include:

  • Building trust and transparency in aircraft manufacturing and operations by leveraging SAP TrueRec to maintain secure certifications for parts, products, personnel and organizations.
  • Increasing security and trust in a complex multi-tier supply chain with end-to-end data integrity and provenance.
  • Simplifying contract management with collaborative “smart” contracts for a scalable system of record.

On a broader scale, SAP is collaborating with companies through the SAP Blockchain Co-Innovation Program.  This week at SAP TechEd the first group of co-innovation partners were announced including Moog, Inc.

By exploring the use cases specific to the A&D industry ecosystem or by joining the SAP Blockchain Co-Innovation Program, SAP and our customers alike have the opportunity to slip on our cowboy boots, mount our horses and begin exploring the new frontier.

So the only question that remains is — when the dust settles, where will you be — on the Oregon trail without an ox or a passenger on the Transcontinental Railroad?


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