As the global demand for supply chain solutions continues to increase, leading French research institute MOBIS is laying the groundwork for the development of innovative applications in transportation, logistics and supply chain management that will improve efficiency and address operational challenges. MOBIS has been investing its resources into applied research programs since 2007.
The knowledge and experience gained over the last decade have allowed the institute to firmly establish itself amongst renowned public institutions including French government departments, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), European Union institutions as well as international firms like Bureau Veritas, ID Logistics, DHL, Ceva Logistics, Renault, Mazda, and LVMH.
MOBIS provides added value to its enterprise clients such as Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) in a wide range of industries including automotive, pharmaceutical, raw materials, and retail/e-commerce. The institute supports the development and implementation of initiatives to increase its clients’ performance and optimizes and enhances their logistics processes.
These attractive offerings have allowed the institute to partner with major global supply chain players including the ports of Le Havre and Rouen. MOBIS’ commitment to research development has led to cooperation with other interdisciplinary public research bodies including IDIT, a French institute specializing in international rights for the transportation industry, and INSA Rouen. Partnerships like these have given birth to many ambitious projects.
BBHQ had the opportunity to discuss with Dr. Ouail Oulmakki, Research Engineer, and Dr. Jérome Verny, Director of MOBIS Institute to learn more about the institute plans and get his thoughts on how blockchain technology could help shape the future of supply chain businesses.
1 – Can you tell us more about your institute role and activities?
MOBIS, the international research institute for the transport and innovative supply chain is a part of NEOMA Business School. Thanks to its international network, its recognized expertise, its multidisciplinary approach (geography, economy, management sciences, information systems), and its collaborative projects, MOBIS has become a center of excellence in research and innovation for the supply chain. MOBIS spearheads R&D projects related to the evolution of the economy and supply chain management. MOBIS’ expertise is based on research and analytical skills in three interconnected fields: land use planning, logistics systems, and population organization.
2 – When and why did your institute start researching blockchain technology?
Our research programs have been active since 2016. Our strategy is to develop collaborative projects with national and international firms, institutes and universities.
3 – What blockchain related activities/projects are your institute currently working on?
The second-hand luxury market. We are organizing a conference on this subject to discuss the opportunities for the authenticity and traceability of products thanks to the blockchain.
- We are also hosting another conference on blockchain as disruptive technology followed by a day with Master of Science students on blockchain in logistics with an application from the use case of wetrade solution
- Finally, we will organize a conference on blockchain focusing on maritime transport in the beginning of 2019 in collaboration with the European Logistics Mediterranean Association ELMED
- We are working on an academic paper detailing a framework on how blockchain can solve the asymmetric information dilemma in economic transactions, with a special focus on maritime shipping.
4 – What blockchain initiatives/projects do you have planned over the next 12 months?
MOBIS will be:
- Participating in international conferences
- Participating in Blockchain consortiums with logistics providers and industries
5 – Why do you think blockchain technology is here to stay?
The blockchain has real potential, in fact, its decentralized nature, its security, and its transparency could lead to the creation of vast applications across different fields. Blockchain could define how we transfer assets, organize registries, and draft up contracts.
6 – What do you think are the best use cases for blockchain in supply chain?
Food traceability with Walmart, Carrefour, and Bureau Veritas.
7 – The logistic industry has historically been resistant to technological changes, why do you think blockchain will be any different than prior technologies that didn’t get broadly adopted?
The blockchain paves the way to a new kind of web, the decentralized web which with cryptoactives allows for the emergence and use of decentralized applications. The blockchain will make it possible to remove the insurmountable obstacle of value transfer, by serving as the platform on which individuals can transfer rare value on the Internet in peer-to-peer, without duplication.
8 – What role do you expect the academic/research world to play in the adoption of blockchain by the business community?
The academia must reinforce the links with the business community by:
- Developing collaborative research projects,
- Making training and courses on Blockchain and its application in supply chain readily available,
- Promoting popular science around blockchain
9 – What do you think are the remaining hurdles hindering the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology in the supply chain ecosystem?
Cybersecurity is a real and daily challenge in the digital environment. Cyber attacks evolve rapidly, but the blockchain ecosystem is evolving much more rapidly in all fields. The blockchain records everything, so safety and protection are of paramount importance.
The blockchain can be mainly used to improve cybersecurity and thus protect businesses, individuals and the government from cyber attacks.
Additionally, relevant training programs need to be jointly developed by corporations, blockchain experts, and solution implementers. Supply chain managers and executives would need to face the operational reality that supply chains are becoming increasingly agile, interoperable, and interactive with their environment and end users and that blockchain technology would allow them to address these challenges.
Another important element to bring blockchain mainstream is to develop specialized consortium for the different areas of supply chains. Last but not least, more academic and professional publications showcasing blockchain implementation best practices would need to be created.
10 – How long do you think it will take to overcome these hurdles?
This lies solely in the community’s capacity to collaborate, to share and to implement best practices in the supply chain industry. For blockchain to overcome its obstacles and meet new market demands, it needs to keep evolving, and that can only happen with cooperation and sharing of ideas within the industry.