Cisco: Blockchain will democratize innovation itself

TechRepublic spoke with industry veteran Anoop Nannra at Mobile World Congress 2018 about the investments Cisco is making in blockchain and the impact it could have on the tech industry and the business world.

Nannra said, “When the internet was created, what it did over the last 20-25 years is it’s fundamentally democratized access to information. In the blockchain space, with the blockchain technology that’s emerging, what we’re seeing is a dramatic change where blockchain has the ability and is actually democratizing innovation itself. If you look at where innovation is happening within the blockchain stack it’s at the protocol layers, at the smart contract layers, even at the ledger storage itself, what you’re seeing is a global impact in people’s ability to deliver value into these spaces with technology.

“We’re seeing innovation happen in every continent, and what’s fascinating is the amount collaboration and true open source innovation that’s happening. So yes, a lot of competitive interest, but at the grass roots levels, we’re seeing innovation where companies are now being formed by groups of people banding together and saying, ‘Hey, let’s go and make change, and deliver change in the world,’ and that’s fascinating for us.”

SEE: Blockchain: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic) | Executive’s guide to implementing blockchain technology (ZDNet)

“I think one of the challenges that still exists within the blockchain space is that there hasn’t been the emergence of a killer application,” said Naanra. “And when we started doing our investigation in blockchain and its application in enterprise, we realized that supply chain is an interesting opportunity, an interesting space where there’s significant value that can be extracted.

“So driving more efficiency within a supply chain network, driving more authenticity and efficacy around how data and goods and products and services are actually delivered and moved. And so we looked at the space and recognized that Cisco actually runs one of the most efficient supply chain operations. Let’s start there. Let’s see if we can actually extract value by adopting the technology for ourselves, not only for us, but also for our ecosystem.

“And, so that becomes a compelling story because now all of a sudden, we’re saying as one of the most efficient supply chain operations globally, are we seeing true value being created or true value being extracted? And I would say yes, we are. We are seeing more transparency, the ability to drive more transparency within our ecosystem, the ability to drive out risk, to drive out some additional cost, and so we’re intrinsically an ideal proving ground for the technology. As we look to the future, how do we take the experimentation that we’re doing and the investigation that we’re doing in supply chain space and extend that into other areas as well?”

SEE: IT leader’s guide to the blockchain (Tech Pro Research)

Naanra added, “As we look at the work that’s happening in the supply chain space broadly when it comes to blockchain, what we’re starting to see is the emergence or the transition from supply chain systems, supply chain networks to almost demand chains. And, so that’s a compelling argument to say that if you have now a level of visibility and transparency around a supply chain partner’s ability to deliver high quality goods, products, and services on time with high yield, could you actually take that data, those events package them up and create a marketplace.

“As a marketplace, now what you’ve done is you’ve now created net new opportunity for those suppliers, and at the same time for other suppliers who are in other ecosystems that we may choose to go off and address. We now have a root of trust that we can point back to around the genesis of high quality, high delivery reputation and leverage that in our own ecosystem. So, we could actually accelerate the growth of our ecosystem with these mechanisms.”

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