Supply chains around the world have been put under unprecedented pressure by the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities of global supply networks which operate using systems and technology often decades old. Car manufacturers in particular are warning that disruptions down the supply chain will increase costs for end consumers.
Many believe that the digital transformation of supply chains, using blockchain technology, would improve efficiency, transparency and trust across stakeholders. It would also provide greater resilience in the event of future global disruption. To that end, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its Blockchain Deployment Toolkit, stating that its aim is to help organisations improve future pandemic preparedness and accelerate the economic rebound post COVID-19. The WEF has suggested that:
"Digitization, and the creation of specialized ecosystems, will be the single most efficient approach to reduce trade cost on a global scale, which will benefit all countries currently impacted by COVID-19."
Guidance and best practice
The toolkit, titled "Redesigning Trust", consists of 14 different modules, providing high-level guidelines and best practices to enable organisations and networks to deploy blockchain-powered solutions quickly and responsibly. It is intended to provide support and value at all stages, from early policy setting to operational compliance. The topics of the various modules reflect this, covering subjects including the formation and governance of consortia, data protection and cybersecurity, as well as legal and financial regulatory compliance. Organisations are invited to take advantage of this resource to reduce the risks around blockchain adoption and improve overall understanding, with a particular focus on supply-chain deployments.
The toolkit has been developed by the WEF in collaboration with over 100 different companies, spanning industries and sizes, and has been described by Deloitte as "a new benchmark" in improving knowledge and adoption of the technology. The concepts and requirements of blockchain are often poorly understood, which may be acting as a block to wider innovation using this technology. The toolkit will be an excellent resource for a variety of stakeholders to develop the necessary knowledge.
Osborne Clarke comment
The toolkit is undoubtedly a broad and helpful resource which businesses would do well to leverage. As the WEF emphasises, deployment of blockchain technology generates a range of legal and regulatory issues, and the toolkit is a useful reference point for many of these.
At Osborne Clarke, we understand the legal issues which could impact on the design of your blockchain solution. We can help you to shape the framework for collaboration with your development/consortium partners. We can work with you to minimise and manage the risks associated both with the development of blockchain solutions, and once the new solution has been deployed.
Blockchain is a rapidly developing technology, and could fundamentally change the way that many global supply chains are managed. Taking action now to prepare business processes and standards could put you steps ahead of the competition as the understanding and applications of this technology mature.
If you would like to learn more about the WEF toolkit, or about our blockchain practice and how we can support your business, please contact one of our experts.