The COVID-19 outbreak, like all other black swan incidents before it, has revealed systemic shortcomings in a wide range of industries and processes. As the information age advances by leaps and bounds, this event highlighted the critical importance of data management and reveals flaws in current data management systems.

In terms of the global response to the pandemic, the consequences of poor data management range from exacerbating scarcity to unnecessary long periods of drug development, to ultimately more lives. On the other hand, there are many opportunities for those who embrace the next generation of data management solutions, and the benefits will be widespread.

The European Union’s attempt to address the shortage of personal protective equipment or personal protective equipment in the midst of a pandemic is a useful starting point for understanding the importance of data management in the context of COVID-19.

In early April, with the virus spreading rapidly across Europe, the lack of protective gear became painfully apparent. But in the complex world of global supply chains, before we can even try to oversupply, the first step must be to collect data. Who manufactures personal protective equipment now? Why couldn’t they do more? What materials do they need? Where are the bottlenecks?

The European Union has tried to answer these questions seriously, but all it can do is send email surveys to European companies that manufacture personal protective equipment for medical use. Of course, this will never be effective, at least for the current pandemic. This is because even if all of the suppliers surveyed promptly responded to the survey, data would be collected at best within a week. Then, of course, most of the data will be out of date, as suppliers’ inventories will shrink due to the massive increase in demand.

Next, what about the vendor suppliers? How about all the initial nodes that make up the global PPE supply chain? In addition to obtaining the necessary real-time view of the personal protective equipment supply chain, the best that the European Union can hope for in this survey is a snapshot of the surface layer.

Blockchain solutions
So why not have global transparency in healthcare supply chains (or any supply chain for that matter)? The answer is two-fold: First, legacy communication systems do not allow supply chain participants to share data safely and efficiently; Secondly because many participants have no incentive to join such a system.

Both problems can be solved, albeit in different ways, with the decentralization that the blockchain supports.

People who are familiar with the communication systems that support the blockchain know that it is a viable solution to the first problem (secure and efficient exchange of data). The blockchain-based distributed communications network overcomes the technical barriers associated with legacy supply chain communication systems, and it also addresses security concerns.

Instead of exchanging data with each node in the chain separately, as is the case in traditional centralized systems, blockchain technology allows participants to exchange data “in one go” with all other participants using a decentralized ledger. This means that supply chains can overcome the current (restrictive) one-step downstream communication model, where each participant has only one step (for the supplier) and one step (for the buyer) in the chain.

Additionally, modern permissible blockchain networks provide the necessary accuracy and read / write access to ensure: 1) Only trusted nodes can add to the general ledger; And 2) Commercially sensitive information can be protected when necessary.

Another – and more complex – problem hindering global visibility in supply chains is the lack of incentives to get everyone involved in the network. This is difficult because it is necessary not only to overcome the inertia of the status quo, but also to remove the existing restrictions. Inertia here refers to investing in and using legacy systems, which means that any proposed solution must provide sufficient added value for participants to make an effort to adopt it.

When it comes to deterrence, the problem is that upstream suppliers are generally reluctant to disclose their business, prices and sources to customers in the final stages, as this will in many cases deny them commercial benefits.

We end up in some kind of tragedy for society. Basically, we want each person involved to share information, such as how much they can produce, the quality of their inputs and outputs, and the current state of all supplies at all levels of the chain.

Source: CoinTelegraph

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