IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section


Many people believe that blockchain will eventually make or break supply chains. Do you think it is an overstatement which will change the game altogether or do you think it is an understatement in the sense that probably there is more that blockchain can do?

Blockchain is not a silver bullet for each and every problem in supply chain
Issues surrounding supply chain in the textiles-apparel fashion industry have been dominating the public discourse. One technology that can help solve the twin problems of 'transparency' and 'traceability' factors is blockchain. Subir Ghosh spoke to experts on the subject to glean how important blockchain is for efficient supply chains.

Technology is an enabler. It can also be an innovator. And if I look at what we have just gone through-did covid-19 break or make supply chains? It becomes a bit rhetorical in your head. Some were broken in areas that was unexpected. So, blockchain is a technology which is really shining a flashlight on opportunities for improvement, better collaborations and outcomes. Whether it is going to make or break- the companies which try to go alone will be left out. But when they join together and are very transparent with their information, they will continue to evolve and be stronger. There is no definitive answer to make or break. It cannot be as bifurcated as that.

The blockchain technology aims to redefine the most important business relationships by establishing trust, transparency, and a newly discovered collaboration. We do not expect customers to turn towards sustainable, quality products, produced under fair conditions in the long run merely because of the transparent documentation of the textile supply chains. Immediate action must be taken in the textiles industry, as the industry is strongly interwoven internationally and the supply chains are very complex. Just like in the meat industry, there has been a complete detachment of the consumer from the production process. Hardly anyone is aware of the amount of effort and work that is invested.

The first thing I want to highlight is that blockchain is not a silver bullet for each and every problem in the supply chain. There are specific challenges that it can solve in the supply chain. And there are a lot of things it cannot. So, we should have a balanced view of what blockchain as a technology can or cannot deliver-not only for supply chains, and beyond too. I have a pragmatic but still optimistic view of what it can achieve but very clearly focused on what problems it can solve and what it cannot. A lot of cynicism comes from the lack of truly understanding what the technology is. And if you go deeper into the technology then it becomes clear-what specific areas it can address and what it cannot.

Blockchains will govern the supply chains of the future; so, I feel that it's an understatement. The RFA (retail, footwear & apparel) industry has never been overly concerned about the source of the materials (and components used in those materials). As long as the finished goods were delivered on time, with the appropriate quality and price, most brands and retailers did not exert the necessary effort to dig more deeply into the various tiers within supply chain. The thinking has changed due to the Xinjiang cotton issue and the increased consumer awareness related to sustainability.

This article was first published in the December 2020 edition of the print magazine.

Published on: 24/12/2020

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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