What API Platforms and Blockchain Mean for the Logistics Industry

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The effectiveness of vital business applications relies on the ability to extract actionable insights from extensive pools of data. In developing these insights, enterprises can transform digitally, drive better business performance, streamline workflows, identify supply chain bottlenecks and predict better business outcomes. By enabling customers to have a complete overview of their operations, such business apps can help deliver products and services faster and smarter.

According to research commissioned by PwC, 90 percent of transportation and logistics industry experts value data and analytics very highly, compared to the average of 83 percent across other industries – a reflection of the level of investment going into these technologies. Although most managers understand the advantages that more proficient data analytic tools can bring to their organisations, developing strategy and processes to best utilise these technologies is more important.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are critical to business success as they drive faster innovation. As a software intermediary, APIs open communication and integration channels between systems and developers, providing the platform to craft more bespoke business solutions to meet customer needs. Connecting new players, fleshing out inefficiencies and harnessing the cloud are all benefits that are driving organisations to develop and implement platform-based business models.

Platforms are designed to help unlock the data’s potential to build more intelligent, productive applications and solutions for digital transformation. The more data – whether that be expected or actual delivery times, inventory management, product specifications or service logistics – the more valuable and insightful the platform becomes for its users.

In terms of logistics, APIs address major issues of limited visibility of cargo – where is the cargo currently? By receiving real-time insights into the location or status of cargo through APIs, managers are more empowered in making the most beneficial business decisions.

Similarly, enterprise cloud technologies are utilising APIs to share data and information across applications and participating firms’ systems. Analysing all this information on a centralised platform means the efficiency of the supply chain can be optimised in real time. This data insight enables businesses to develop the effective new applications and services that ensure a strong, competitive edge. Consequently, companies can develop better products and get them to market faster while standing out from the competition.

APIs also make monetisation easier, and as 5G, AI, IoT, blockchain and machine learning technologies start to permeate the business world, it will become more critical to extract meaningful insights from data to drive better business outcomes. This increased transparency and visibility complements the security of blockchain to provide an authentication engine for enterprises.

Blockchain as a digital bookkeeper

Blockchain-enabled platforms provide more visible and improved bookkeeping processes where transactions between two parties are publicly recorded without the need of a trusted intermediary such as a bank.

APIs and blockchain are much the same in nature – a platform or set of processes built on the concept of trust. The access to a shared distributed ledger reduces processing times dramatically for goods along the logistics supply chain.

A network of devices that utilise blockchain for distributed processing and delivery develops a collaborative environment. Especially with supply chain management and the many players (or chains) involved, blockchain can log each transaction to a specific user at a specific time to a specific event. By tracking where a laggard is evident, or inefficiency logged, the interaction between the API and blockchain creates quality control across the network.

As these technologies continue to converge into infrastructure that enterprises build their operations and management around, new capabilities will be needed to leverage these platform systems. With so many moving parts, different suppliers, distributors and customers, organisations within the logistics industry are set to gain the most in their endeavour toward advantageous digital transformation.

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Sales Engineer Manager, ANZ Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific

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