In April this year, Rob
Carter, the CIO of courier giant FedEx, argued that, for all of the hype and
projects related to the blockchain industry, a need for collaboration is vital.
Take the fledgling rail industry in the United States in the 19th century as an
example; only an act of Congress in 1863 forced through the adoption of an
industry-standard gauge, enabling unified development.
For blockchain technologies, Carter
argued, a similar initiative needs to take place. Given the company’s role in
delivery – founder Fred Smith said last year that the technology has ‘big, big
implications in supply chain, transportation and logistics’ – then such a
message will continue to be sought.
Dale Chrystie (left), business fellow and blockchain strategist at FedEx, is a regular speaker and thought leader on the topic. Ahead of his participation at Blockchain Expo North America later this week, The Block caught up with Chrystie to discuss ‘co-opetition’, open strategies, as well as enterprise adoption trends.
The Block: Hi Dale. Tell us
briefly about your career to date, what your job responsibilities are at FedEx
and what being a ‘blockchain strategist’ entails?
Dale Chrystie: I have been in the transportation industry for more than 30 years and
have been responsible for a number of areas, including strategy, quality, process improvement, portfolio management, human
resources, operations, sales, education, risk, and standards development.
I am a business fellow and am focused on the business and strategy side of
TB: What initiatives are FedEx
currently undertaking with regard to blockchain technologies, in terms of
product, use cases, and thought leadership?
DC: We do think blockchain is a technology discussion, but it’s not only a
technology discussion, which leads us to the thought leadership space.
The below questions speak to the thought leadership side of things around
TB: Your CIO, Rob Carter
said in April that industry standardisation is the key for
blockchain technologies to achieve widespread adoption. What is your opinion on
these remarks and how do you see standardisation taking shape around
DC: We see standardisation occurring in multiple areas in the blockchain
discussion. The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) is focused on the
development of open and royalty-free data standards, to essentially map the DNA
sequence of data in the global supply chain space. Rob also discussed what
we believe will be an open effort to build out such a global supply chain
blockchain as a foundational layer.
TB: Which industries and use
cases (can be personal as well as professional interest) do you think are the
most exciting and interesting with regard to blockchain technologies?
DC: Where authenticity is critical, we think blockchain will be
transformative, which gets you to some of the early very interesting use cases
like global clearance, pharmaceuticals, and aircraft parts.
TB: What in your opinion needs
to be the course of events to ensure enterprise-level adoption of blockchain
and when will that arrive?
DC: Our CIO, Rob Carter, also said we don’t believe we can put a FedEx logo
on blockchain and the world will come to us. So, that leads us down the
path of ‘coopetition’ with others in this space. It’s not about where we
compete, but rather in blockchain, it’s about where we can agree in
non-competitive areas that benefit all. We think it will take a big global
village to build out the foundational non-competitive blockchain technology and
all of us can use it in the future. The sooner that idea becomes
apparent, the sooner this technology will scale.
TB: Your talk at Blockchain
Expo North America is titled ‘Blockchain Goes Global’. What themes will you be
addressing and what do you hope the audience comes away with from your
DC: Some of the themes were answered in these questions. Blockchain is not yet very fast, or very scalable, or very mature. However, what it does, it does really well, and where authenticity matters it will be a game-changer. We don’t think consortiums scale globally in the supply chain space, which leads us to working together in an open model as a foundational layer, and which leads us to ‘coopetition.’
Interested in hearing more in person? Find out more at the Blockchain Expo World Series, Global, Europe and North America.