Oracle rolls out blockchain-based business apps

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.

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.

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