Oliver Bussmann on getting a complete view of your supply chain with Ambrosus.

In previous blogs, I’ve talked a lot about convergence and how the future of business lies in broad-based, open platforms based on various emerging technologies. The Ambrosus project, for which I am an adviser, is I think an excellent example of that process starting to happen.

A project to build blockchain-based ecosystems for supply chains for life-essential products such as food and medicine, what makes Ambrosus interesting is, among other things, the way it combines blockchain with IoT technology and smart contracts to provide the basis for complete food or pharma ecosystems.

These will not only increase efficiencies and security, but can also catalyse new business models in ways I think will become increasingly common in many industries.

More than just blockchain

I was attracted to Ambrosus among other things because, while nominally a blockchain project, the management team understood from the outset that blockchain is only part of the equation. Ambrosus is building hardware too, in the form of sophisticated IoT sensors that monitor and report on the status of individual items as they make their way through the supply chain. This allows stakeholders to monitor the quality of an item from where it is made, all the way to where it’s going to be used, as well as provide a picture of the state of the whole supply chain at any time – a real ecosystem view.

The sensors send their data to a blockchain based on a new, open protocol designed especially for supply chain settings that the project is developing as well. This protocol is designed with interoperability in mind. It is for example not restricted to Ambrosus’ sensors, but can accept data from third-party sensors as well.

The point is that Ambrosus ecosystems are adaptable, extensible and potentially broad-based, as in my opinion such ecosystems need to be. Ambrosus also has its own token, Amber, which is used to bind all the parts of the ecosystem together. The token is innovative: it’s not just used for value transfer in the ecosystem as the world’s first data-bonded token – it’s also the repository of the data for the individual items.

Finally, as an Ethereum-based protocol, Ambrosus makes use of smart contracts. These will help improve some of the problems that current supply chains have, for example by allowing for far higher levels of automation – hence efficiency – as well as far greater transparency and accountability.

New markets

With this, I think Ambrosus has put together the building blocks to not only make for more efficient, more secure supply chains, but also to allow people to start thinking about new business models and new kinds of markets.

This is in fact already happening. The project has for instance built a decentralised marketplace where farmers can sell directly to buyers with no middlemen. It’s also working on a decentralised commodities trading platform. There are many other possibilities, too.

To me, perhaps most exciting are the apps it’s building for consumers. For example, there’s an app that allows consumers to scan food labels and get an instant quality assurance report. The same can be done with medicines.

The consumer angle and end-user experience is key, because this will ultimately drive acceptance of the platform on a large scale.

With broad consumer adoption, and the kind of transparency and trust in an ecosystem that a project like Ambrosus can bring, will come new kinds of consumer demands. This in turn will likely drive new kinds of businesses that we cannot yet envision. I believe platforms such as Ambrosus, which concentrate on the big picture from the outset, will have the flexibility to meet these new demands.

Broad-based ecosystems are the wave of the future. Ambrosus and projects like it show us that that wave is already starting to break.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Image by Pactio Poka, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Oliver Bussmann

Oliver Bussmann has a reputation as a technology thought leader and driver of large-scale transformation at global organisations in the financial services and hi-tech industries. As group chief information officer of UBS, he successfully led a major IT transformation effort, instituted a new IT innovation framework, and established UBS as a pioneer in the development of blockchain for use in financial services. Prior to this, Oliver was global chief information officer at SAP for four years, and was CIO for North America & Mexico at Allianz. Previous roles include executive positions at Deutsche Bank and IBM.

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