The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have been the necessary fuse to accelerate and the need for greater resilience in companies. And according to IBM, it also influenced the resilience of supply chains, digital health records and distributed ecosystems that help organizations, both in the public and private sectors, to maintain the flow of essential products, coordinating responses.

Despite a greater focus on these areas during 2020, IBM predicts that they will continue to influence the development and, increasingly, the adoption of blockchain technology in the coming years. In that sense, the company outlined five scenarios and predictions of how blockchain can help businesses and citizens return to normality during 2021.

Digital medical certificates for return to work

Evidence of people’s health status is essential for traveling, but also for returning to work. Employers need to obtain such evidence from their employees in order to avoid contagion in the workplace. The pandemic has accelerated the need to jointly create a digital infrastructure among test providers, governments and technology companies to support these records. According to IBM, blockchain technology can help, including its IBM Digital Health Pass digital health registration platform, which can be adopted in registration, but also in protecting users’ personal and private data.

Artificial intelligence and automation

IBM says that AI and automation can help unlock more value when integrated with reliable data provided by the blockchain. Taking the example of its IBM Food Trust’s Freshness module, the system can dictate the products that are on the shelf at the end of term. This type of platform allows companies to maintain visibility of product inventory during periods of increased demand. Products can be automatically reordered when certain limits are reached, as well as in the case of shipping, choose the most sustainable and economical method.

More supermarket products monitored by blockchain

IBM believes that by 2021 the lowest entry barrier for blockchain will accelerate its adoption across the food supply chain. This will result in more products being monitored by technology, visible in supermarkets and points of sale. It is said that the costs of blockchain technology went down, as well as the time needed to obtain a positive return from it, during 2020.

This is due to the fact that blockchain integration into other solutions has enabled companies to benefit from more specificity and choice of available networks. The hybrid cloud and the ability to scale has made the network more flexible to respond to demand and, in this way, has enabled organizations to quickly begin to feel its value. A study by IBM revealed that 41% of organizations demonstrated value in blockchain-related initiatives in May 2020.

The company points out that, through blockchain, food producers can opt for specific areas of technology, building their own networks for products such as wine, seafood or coffee. It should be noted that, due to the scarcity of some basic products during the pandemic, the need for greater visibility and resilience in the supply chain was reinforced. Blockchain solutions can take more tracked products to supermarkets and distribution chains.

Blockchain may help vaccination campaign

Considering the impressive amount of vaccines needed to protect people from COVID-19, IBM stresses the role that blockchain can play in the process. The technology can help to provide an accurate view of the inventory and optimize the respective allocation of vaccines. In addition to distribution, the maintenance of cold chains, as well as fraud attempts, can be mitigated through technology.

In developing countries, between 10 and 30% of medicines are counterfeit. To mitigate the problem, vaccine distributors will have to use technologies such as cryptographic anchors to link a digital identifier that is unique to a physical object, with a property that is difficult to clone, falsify or transfer to another object. And as examples, it highlights brands in tissue patterns or optical signs that help to authenticate these products and make vaccination safer.

Tokens can help to value stocks and reduce intermediaries and red tape

IBM believes that “tokenization” will help provide additional levels of security and efficiency. As it becomes more common, the next evolution of the supply chain will have fully digitized inventories. Digitized stocks can increase the source of supply chains, through organizations’ capital, giving them greater control and compression of their net assets and thus making more informed decisions.

Likewise, considering digital assets, the number of intermediaries and paperwork can be reduced. And the liquidity problem is also addressed, which affects many assets, from real estate, precious metals, fine art or industrial, which are not easily convertible into cash.

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