The Bitcoin boom and bust of last year may not have helped cryptocurrency gain a reputation as a stable financial asset. It did, however, create discussion around the wider applicability of blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger that maintains and records data in a way that allows multiple stakeholders to confidently and securely share access to the same information.

According to a recent report from Accenture, approximately 86 per cent of aerospace and defence companies expect to integrate blockchain into their corporate systems within three years, and the current rate of uptake in defence industry is outpacing all but two of the 18 sectors surveyed.

The report argues that blockchain’s secure, immutable and decentralised features can help aerospace and defence companies reduce maintenance costs, increase aircraft and vessel availability, and minimise errors in tracking parts.

Paul Mylon, Aerospace and Defence Lead for Accenture Australia, told ADM that the technology is set to change the way defence industry manages supply chains.

“For defence companies, the advantages of blockchain are around improving the traceability, auditability, accuracy, and security of information and transactions across a distributed value chain,” Mylon said. "The use of blockchain will help defence companies achieve a competitive advantage by boosting the overall performance of their industrial ecosystem.”

The tech offers a means of overcoming two specific challenges. First, 70 per cent of the aerospace and defence executives surveyed believe that companies will be grappling with growing waves of corrupted insights as more falsified data infiltrates their data-driven information systems. Blockchain’s secure and unchangeable data chain helps weed out falsified data.

Second, the technology can also help track and provide consistent aircraft configuration data throughout the supply chain.

“Knowing the actual configuration of an in-service aircraft or ship as examples at any point in time is important,” Mylon said. “Blockchain enables aerospace and defence companies to securely share, capture and authenticate data from a single source.”

That ability will become increasingly important as AI become ever more prominent in industry. 80 per cent of surveyed executives said they expect every human in their workforce to be affected daily by an AI-based decision by 2021.

Mylon also told ADM that Defence industry is watching uptake in other sectors with an eye to solving its own challenges.
“There are many current blockchain use cases from other industries, such as banking, that defence companies are playing close attention to,” he said. “For example, payment processing, supply chain collaboration, program management and financial reconciliation.”

“Organisations are embarking on unique proofs of concepts to identify blockchain’s role in addressing the narrow and complex problems solely experienced by defence industry.”

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