Our latest discussion was all about the hype-topic blockchain. Thomas Müller, CEO and co-founder of Evan, has spent a long time in the area of digital business and brings a lot of experience in blockchain technologies. That’s why we are very pleased to discuss with him the possibilities of decentralized infrastructure for different business and industry scenarios.
Started in 2018, Evan GmbH is a german tech-start up operating the evan.network as an enterprise blockchain infrastructure focused on manufacturing companies. With this blockchain technology, Evan provides a base for building trust in digital partner networks as well as enabling corporate solutions for the economy of things.
Thomas Müller, CEO and co-founder of Evan, has spent a long time in the area of digital business and brings a lot of experience in blockchain technologies. That’s why we are very pleased to discuss with him the possibilities of decentralized infrastructure for different business and industry scenarios.
Use Cases for Blockchain Technology
Within the evan.network, Evan GmbH functions as the leading neutral organization and blockchain infrastructure provider (which is based on Ethereum). Their responsibility is to ensure that the network is completely neutral and working independently from any single operator.
In the time of their foundation a few years ago, nobody knew what blockchain really is capable of and according to Thomas, a huge hype started with a lot of Proof of Concepts implementations although common database solutions would have brought more benefits.
“In the end, technology itself will change nothing. Only technologies which come along with concrete benefits for users, for businesses – that kind of technology will have the potential to change the world.”Thomas Müller, CEO and co-founder of Evan GmbH
Today there are some developments where blockchain technology could really bring some benefits for the companies when it comes to building a digital business. Especially in the enterprise area, when single corporations want to improve their collaborations with business partners across multiple tiers, often a problem of trust between the different tiers exists.
Therefore blockchain solutions can be used to share data and prove authenticity because you can bring transparency into the supply chain to enable trustful relationships. Via this infrastructure all the data which is important for the production process or the final product, e.g. the product compliance, can be shared along the digital supply chain without the need to share other internal information.
Another very interesting use case which Thomas mentioned is the sharing economy and cooperation of different partners within a digital business process. Here, as Thomas points out, “every shared resource needs to be digitized and digital available and this is what you can build with help of blockchain technology”. Every company gets a digital representation that helps them to interact directly and to book the machine for example. Again, the foundation for the following digital cooperation is digital trust.
Technology platforms vs. decentralized solutions
One interesting question that comes up to this topic is if it is possible for blockchain technologies to replace traditional platform solutions. According to Thomas, this won’t be the case because platforms will still be used to digitize processes and combine data and functionality. For him it’s more about the linkage of both because the blockchain holds the data which is produced and consumed on the platform in a decentralized way. The data and process ownership should be on the side of the individual companies instead of the platform owner’s side.
Therefore, it is necessary to build a foundational infrastructure step by step. Thomas explains this with the help of an example from supply chain management in the textile industry: “the starting point is to invite the first tier suppliers to share the information to prove the sustainability certification and so on” and contracting them to do the same with their second tier suppliers as well as the other tiers. The most important aspect here is to make sure that every single company that is involved in this network also generates an own benefit for their business. So the whole process is about solving business problems, otherwise others aren’t motivated to join the network. Thomas marks out: “The perspective which I need to improve to boost a digital business is not only what is necessary for me, but what is necessary that the ecosystem comes together”.
What about sustainability?
Thomas makes clear that “blockchain will not help to improve sustainability, because sustainability is not a technology question”. But blockchain can provide more transparency for sustainability questions in the production process, for example the social and environmental standards of business partners.
Another possibility is to combine all the data of the product along the value chain and to track how the final product was produced in detail, what kind of materials were used and so on. And this transparent exchange of trusted information can be used to improve sustainable aspects of manufacturing processes.
One last piece of advice
As always we asked for one single leadership advice. For Thomas, it’s all about finding the specific approach and the right solution for it:
“When you think about platforms, then really think about what do you want to achieve? Do you want to improve your processes? Then the traditional centralized intent of the platform is maybe the right choice or do you want to improve your business by bringing a completely new level of cooperation? Then it’s the right time to think about ecosystems.”
Thank you Thomas for the great conversation and insights.
The complete episode can be listed at your favorite podcast provider.