Category Archives: Electronic Commerce

IBM is using the blockchain to speed up and simplify cross-border payments

The blockchain has long been seen as a method to quicken (and cheapen) cross-borders payments, and now that movement — which includes a number of startups making moves privately — just got its highest profile advocate after IBM announced its own solution focus on banks.

The computing giant has teamed up with blockchain startup Stellar and payment company Kickex to launch a cross-border payment system for banks which uses the blockchain to “reduce the settlement time and lower the cost of completing global payments for businesses and consumers.”

Currently, international transactions take days, if not weeks, to be completed. Frustration with that has seen services like TransferWise rise, but, great as they are, they remain solutions for savvy consumers or small businesses rather than all.

A blockchain solution for banks addresses the root cause, and it could minimize the potential for errors thanks to the ledger-based system while also providing transparency and flexibility to banks.

In one example, IBM said its service could be used to connect a farmer in Samoa with a buyer based in Indonesia, while covering more than just the payment itself.

“The blockchain would be used to record the terms of the contract, manage trade documentation, allow the farmer to put up collateral, obtain letters of credit, and finalize transaction terms with immediate payment, conducting global trade with transparency and relative ease,” it said.

That’s the longer term objective but already the system is being used in 12 currency corridors between the Pacific Islands and Australia, New Zealand and the UK. It is tipped to handle 60 percent of cross-border payments from South Pacific’s retail industry within the next year and there are wider plans beyond that.

More than a dozen banks are part of the initial group working with the program, which has plans to expand into South America, Southeast Asia and other areas early next year.

“With the guidance of some of the world’s leading financial institutions, IBM is working to explore new ways to make payment networks more efficient and transparent so that banking can happen in real-time, even in the most remote parts of the world,” Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President of IBM Industry Platforms, said in a statement.

The system runs on the IBM Blockchain Platform, which itself is based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric that powers IBM’s “Blockchain as a service” announced earlier this year. It is also an notable example of a public blockchain (IBM) working with a private blockchain (Stellar) since Stellar handles the actual settlement of transactions, as CoinDesk noted.

IBM recently partnered with Walmart and others to use the blockchain to improve food safety through increased transparency and traceability.

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Wal-Mart Stores: Fighting Back

SeekingAlpha.com

Summary

In a world spiraling towards e-commerce which is dominated by Amazon, Wal-Mart is fighting back by reinventing itself as a technology company with physical stores.

Wal-Mart’s secret weapon is its Data Café: a state of the art, analytics hub which is the world’s largest private cloud.

Wal-Mart will enjoy PE expansion if it succeeds at this transformation.
Leverage 55 years of Experience and Assets

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) is the world’s largest retailer with $485 billion revenue in its fiscal year 2017, $14 billion profit after tax, and an operating cash flow of $31 billion. It has over 11, 600 stores in 28 countries. In U.S. alone, it has 4,700 stores which is located within a ten-mile vicinity of 90% of the U.S. population. Effectively, this is a very powerful and cost-effective delivery network as it expands its e-commerce platform.

For the past 55 years, when Sam Walton first founded this discount store in 1962 and disrupted the entire retail industry then, it has grown in financial strength by disciplined growth, capital allocation and delivering an EDLP (Every Day Low Pricing) policy for its customers. Over the past decade, as buying habits are dramatically remolded by online e-commerce, Wal-Mart has lost market share and its revenue growth declined. But it is not dead. On the contrary, it has quietly been amassing assets to fight this inevitable battle for customers’ dollars.
Goal: Transform into a technology company

Big Data and Data Café is at the heart of this transformation. Wal-Mart now can chew and spit 40 petabytes of data, and to give its management and associates “real time” solutions to complex business problems, which in the past, would have taken weeks to compile, compute and analyze. This ability has far reaching benefits: from increased sales, more efficient inventory control, supply chain management, merchandising, efficient delivery options, and climate control and the switching of lights in the stores.

Wal-Mart is using technology both online and offline to maximize the seamless experience for its customers. For example, customers can elect to pick up their online orders at a Wal-Mart location. Instead of having to go inside the store, customers can pick up their order at an automated pickup tower which looms 16 feet tall and holds 300 small to mid-size packages. As the customer walks towards the tower, its doors would automatically open. A screen scans the mobile receipt and the bar code, and disburses the packages. Viola!

BART fare cheaters drain up to $25 million a year

The transit agency’s Operations and Safety Committee, chaired by BART board Director Joel Keller, met Tuesday to discuss ways to prevent fare evaders from riding the system for free.
According to BART documents, the transit agency loses an estimated $15 to $25 million in revenue annually. BART estimates its fare evasion is rate is between 4 to 5 percent.
Funny how a few years ago, LA Metro installed gates at most rail transit stations and dumped the Self Service (selbstbedienung in German where it was invented) ticketing that works well all around the world. The plan behind installing the gates was to reduce the number of fare cheaters. In the process LA Metro “saved money” by reducing the number of ticket inspectors who also act as security on the trains. I guess people who want to avoid paying fares have no problems jumping over fare gates.

“Through a three-tiered strategy of enforcement, station hardening, and education, BART aims to raise the stakes for fare evaders, and assure our riders that we value their patronage and investment and foster the expectation that every rider pay their fair share.”

Some of ways fare evaders get into paid areas include following behind a paid BART passenger entering the fare gate, jumping over the glass barriers or fare gates, and entering through emergency exits.

SFBay via California Rail News

Looking Forward To 2017?

This time of year, you might be of two minds. You’re excited about the upcoming year and the possibilities of new projects, job opportunities, and maybe an upcoming vacation to someplace warm. But you’ve also read articles aplenty about automation affecting supply chain jobs, some segments of the economy are still struggling, we’re always a black swan event away from disaster and, oh yeah, there’s a new president on the way with some very different ideas. Welcome to the new normal!

Don’t despair, for there are many positives ahead. The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, cloud technology, and robotics have all made their way along Gartner’s Hype Cycle curve and are now in operation. 3D printing is growing and machine learning/AI is picking up steam, as are driverless vehicles, drones, and VR. Even the political front has bright possibilities, with Trump’s infrastructure plan, tax reductions, and possible repatriation of foreign profits having the potential to light a fire under the economy. Things are looking up, right? Well, yes and no.

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The CSX Railroad Must BE NIMBLE!

Coal likely won’t be a major traffic/revenue for CSX anymore. Coal revenue losses, which have been mounting since 2011, are expected to total $2 billion by year’s end.

So, the Class I needed to develop a strategy to radically change the structure and operation of the coal-dominant railroad for the long term. Enter the “CSX of Tomorrow.” Formally launched in late April and expected to take several years to implement, the strategy calls for realigning the network to de-emphasize coal traffic and optimize the volume-growth potential of the more promising intermodal sector and solid merchandise segment; deploying more high-tech equipment and information systems; pursuing service excellence; and developing a workforce of the future.

csxmap

The idea— and hope — behind the CSX of Tomorrow (CoT): help spur volume growth and increase profitability in the intermodal and merchandise franchises, and yet preserve the business value of coal as it becomes a smaller part of the company’s portfolio.

The Class I aims to develop a Team of Tomorrow (ToT), or a more diverse, versatile and highly skilled workforce. CSXers believe such a team can up the ante on working collaboratively, making decisions quickly, embracing new technologies and finding ways to boost productivity.

The Network of Networks: You Mean THE CLOUD

Today I spent on a project from 2013: Supply Chain Control Towers

Far greater minds than mine have defined Supply Chain Control Towers? There are many definitions but Capgemini offers a good, broad definition that many would agree with: “A supply chain control tower is a central hub with the required technology, organization, and processes to capture and use supply chain data to provide enhanced visibility for short and long term decision making that is aligned with strategic objectives.”

Yes, I wrote about Supply Chain Control Towers and Transportation Control Towers

First thing today I get a message from India. Company wants to know more about Supply Chain Control Towers. Then I read mail (uuuggghhh). Get a blog from Lora Cecere, The Supply Chain Shaman.. She knows more about Supply Chains than I ever will. But she is allied with ALL the vendors in the industry. I trust them as far as I can throw them.

scmcontroltower2

But she has a great idea: A Netword of Networks

I simplify that to “THE CLOUD”

Back the Control Towers. She and I agree on a lot. Difference simply is I want EDI to be the main communications tool (other than voice-to-voice). She wants to also introduce many existing communications tools from her great vendor community. I feel EDI is proven and can communicate ANYTHING. She wants to introduce things like HADOOP, SPARK, BLOCK CHAIN to the process. ADOBE may be her great friend. All I know about them is their opening remark if I contact them. “What is your credit card number?” Still confident in the international banking system to think BLOCKCHAIN is a lot of B..S We use BNP Paribas and know it’s capabilities.

scmcontroltower3

I am sure Lora and I will work out our differences. So confident that I have signed up for her Webinar in January.

This is a guest blog from my boss, Ken Kinlock. He is “The Man” about Control Towers

The Cloud Supply Chain Data Network

Quality data is the fuel for any business software. In international trade and logistics, where critical data comes from partners scattered across the globe, the challenge of obtaining quality data is even greater.

The traditional approach for connecting to a myriad of partners to receive and send data is costly, time consuming and error-prone. It is the primary reason companies don’t have global view, or a control tower for managing the full end-to-end global supply chain.

Fortunately, there is a new model for delivering data to your solutions that makes what used to be impossible possible, while decreasing costs at the same time.

Modern cloud-based information platforms designed specifically for global supply chains take advantage of powerful network effects that lower costs by spreading them across a large community of users.

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Have You Connected The Dots Yet?

Let’s have some fun with math. What EDI translator does your company use? For that matter, what ERP, 3PL, or other service is on your short list? Next, how many trading partners do you have? And finally, what EDI, ERP, and other electronic systems do they use? It doesn’t really matter whether you have the answers to these questions. What you would get even if you use the smallest estimates available is a very large number of permutations. How is it possible then to maintain compatibility and also keep up with the accelerated pace of today’s supply chain?

Fortunately translating one trading partner’s EDI transactions into the formats your company uses is controllable. That’s not to say it’s simple and doesn’t require constant attention, but the tools have been honed to the point that daily operations move ahead without too much problem. But the processes still need handholding and manual intervention to assure every document processes correctly.

Get the “5 Best Practices for Integration Planning” Whitepaper for free

Read more: http://ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/editors-blog/11799-have-you-connected-the-dots-yet#ixzz4QKzGlGoh

Supply Chain Mayhem – Avoid It

It’s hard to believe that the Holiday season is near – or that for those participating in retail, the season is already well underway. Is it too late to think about making this season better? If you haven’t already made the infrastructure and system changes you’ve been contemplating this year then the answer is likely to be Yes! But there may still be a few things you can do at this late date.

Be Mobile Ready

Get Your Visibility Nailed

Get Ready To Be The Best

Read more: http://ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/editors-blog/11789-supply-chain-mayhem-avoid-it#ixzz4PnQvO3X2

It’s Integration Time!

The benefits of automating orders, invoices, and ASNs between your company and its customers are well known. Integrated documents are faster, less prone to error, and improve workflow among your people and systems. At this point, it would be rare to find a major retailer or manufacturer who isn’t using electronic documents to run their businesses. Not so rare, though, are small and medium sized businesses (SMB) still pushing paper. It’s about time for SMBs to make their move, isn’t it?

A few years back, automating electronic documents for a ‘newbie’ was a long and expensive proposition. You needed to buy equipment and software, plus you had to train an employee (or hire one) to establish and maintain connections. That was just to get up and running. Integrating documents into and out of your existing systems, ERP, WMS, CRM, and so on, was something with which the IT staff had to be involved. Then, once up and running, somebody had to monitor the operation and handle exceptions. You know what? Those days are over. Options abound, mostly due to the growth and proven effectiveness of cloud-based technology.

When you look at it, the return on investment in the ‘old days’ maybe wasn’t there. You may have had a major partner, a hub, try to force the issue, but you’d been successful in leveraging your relationship to postpone your deadlines time after time. However, the clock was ticking and eventually your time will expire.

Read more: http://ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/industry-updates/11772-it-s-integration-time#ixzz4OvDcojYX