Cisco’s services supply chain provides advanced hardware replacement to customers in over 120 countries and is a key service delivery component in support of Cisco’s service business.

Although Cisco owns the inventory and processes for this massive supply chain, Cisco does not own or operate a single warehouse or truck.  The entire supply chain is managed by a worldwide network of third party logistics providers, freight forwarders, and customs brokers who work in partnership with Cisco to deliver world-class support to Cisco Service’s end customers.

The service delivery and margins for this supply chain match up well against the industry.  However, the Cisco team, working together with their supply chain partners, is always looking to improve the end customer experience while also reducing costs.  One key focus area for achieving this is through improved systems integration with supply chain partners to improve the quality and timeliness of service shipment data for customer service events.

Cisco and its partner DHL worked closely together to develop a blockchain based gateway for integrating the two companies’ systems for service event dispatch and track and trace.  The architecture this team developed includes different blockchain platforms (Hyperledger Fabric and DHL BLESS) running on different cloud service providers as well as using a Splunk instance with the Splunk App for Hyperledger Fabric for visibility and monitoring.  The solution was also hosted in distributed cloud services AWS and Azure.

Screenshot of blockchain gateway and its scalability to multiple supply chain partners

The combined Cisco and DHL team proved out the ability to leverage blockchain for large systems integration solution that can scale to multiple platforms and dozens of partners, all hosted on a shared blockchain for real connectivity and interoperability.

This has the following benefits:

  • Improved time to onboard partners compared to current B2B solution.
  • Ability to make a single evolution of consortium and replicate across all partners in supply chain at once (change once vs change many).
  • Potential to reduce current run rate of B2B data errors and exceptions.
  • Evolve current architecture to future standards.
  • Enhanced reporting capabilities.
  • Cost reduction compared to current B2B infrastructure & support.
  • Expanded data to improve the customer service experience.
  • Future platform on which to build value added services.

Although there is more work to do for the supply chain industry as a whole to set standards and develop blockchain based solutions, this partnership between Cisco and DHL demonstrated both the viability of the technology as well as the potential to further improve supply chain efficiency while also improving customer experience.

This partnership has been an excellent example of how strategic partners can drive innovation together. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.