Let's get digital

Published on 09 February 2018

A new joint venture company which Maersk and IBM intend to launch is the first open platform of significant scale for sharing information and developing digital products related to trade.

It is time to let technology help shape and improve the industry, says Mike White, CEO of the joint venture, pictured.

Two missing customs papers and a late announcement of a rail network change was enough to cause a container headed to the United States from Europe to literally miss the boat—and arrive four weeks late to the customer.

It’s an all too familiar story for the participants in global trade and just one example of many found during the testing phase of new technology developed by Maersk and IBM as a part of a new joint venture company that will offer the first open platform of significant scale for sharing information and developing digital products for trade.

“Supply chain event transparency and physical documentation are just two examples of the areas an open platform like this can improve and subsequently help grow global trade,” says Mike White, CEO of the new joint venture and formerly President of Maersk in North America.

“Eventually, we hope the ecosystem of participants will create other applications to help solve additional problems for their customers and partners. Technology has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives, it’s time we let it help us shape and improve our industry.”

Secure, digital exchange

When it launches in 2018 (pending regulatory approval*)the company will connect all the different supply chain participants in one secure, digital platform where they can share and use information but also use that information to develop products for their customers and the industry.

The platform will use IBM’s blockchain technology, based on Hyperledger Fabric from the Linux Foundation, which among other things ensures that platform participants’ information is secure and any transactions involve only relevant parties.

The two initial applications on the platform are the Shipping Information Pipeline and Paperless Trade. Developed by Maersk and IBM, they tackle two of global trade’s most costly and frustrating realities: the lack of event transparency as a shipment moves through the supply chain, and the web of paper-based documentation and processes that complicate every shipment from origin to destination.

Both applications illustrate the value of a more comprehensive, real-time, secure exchange of information and documentation as well as the potential for participants on the platform to create products. 

A series of pilots running since March 2017 involving Maersk customers, ports, customs authorities and many others confirm the two applications abilities to increase efficiency and accuracy of information shared.

Releasing the brakes on trade

“This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to lead the digitisation of global trade. The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit,” said Vincent Clerc, Chief Commercial Officer at A.P. Moller - Maersk and future Chairman of the Board of the new joint venture company.

“By joining our deep knowledge of trade with IBM’s leadership in blockchain and enterprise technology, we are confident this new company can make a real difference in shaping the future of global trade.”

* The establishment of the joint venture remains subject to receipt of regulatory approvals. None of the information provided in this article should be construed in any way as a commitment and this information is subject to change and represents goals and objectives only.

Category: News articles