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12 SMT007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2020 Johnson: And there isn't anything more in the ledger than tracking the transactions? Begue: Yes. It's more than a transaction. Very often, while I'm issuing a purchase order, there is a lot of information associated with the purchase order, the product description, and maybe some legal documentation. You may not want to put all of that onto the blockchain, but you can link to it, which means the block- chain is just the record that the transaction exists. You can point to associated documents that describe the content of a transaction, and there is a fairly complex security layer, which is going to manage the accessibility of all this data to the different par- ties. Because it's one thing to have you, your client, and your client's client sharing transactions, but it doesn't mean that everybody should see everything. There is a lot of control you may want to provide about who can see what and when. Johnson: That makes sense because not everybody needs to know everything. Begue: Definitely. And every- body shouldn't see every- thing. Johnson: When we talk about supply chain management, there are two different appli- cations: there's supply chain management, and then there's the identification of poten- tial counterfeits in the supply chain. Looking at supply chain management for the moment, how does blockchain move us forward? Why isn't the current method sufficient? Begue: I always use the same example, but I think it's a decent one. If I'm in the electron- ics industry, and I'm shipping one box of com- ponents or sub-assemblies from someplace in China to the port of Long Beach, California, who is involved in that transaction? The obvi- and manages the information, security, and immutability. Its record of history cannot be changed, so it's a new way of looking at multi- party processes and transactions. Lam: Christophe summarized it very well, but I want to add that there are so many differ- ent types of blockchains. The one we're talking about is the permissioned blockchain, instead of the permissionless, anonymous blockchain where anyone—even if they don't know each other—can join. Begue: That's a very important point. Here, we're discussing the use of blockchain in the context of business processes and enterprises, which are dealing with each other. They have names, locations, and reasons for doing busi- ness. We're not talking about cryptocurrencies and anony- mous participants. Johnson: Wouldn't anonym- ity be a problem when you're dealing with provenance in the supply chain? Begue: Correct. You'd like to buy stuff from people who exist, and you know their name. Quite often, it's a legal requirement. Johnson: Where is the blockchain, and where does the transaction ledger reside? Begue: Think about a ledger or database that would either be hosted by one of the partici- pants, or by your solution provider, and the participant agrees to jointly write a set of data that represents this transaction to that ledger. That ledger certainly accounts for the history of these transactions across these different par- ties as it evolves over time. It's the equivalent in that case of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution where different participants contrib- ute their own transactions. Michelle Lam

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