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The business of blockchain with BiTA

 IMAGE: FREIGHTWAVES' JOSH RODEN AND LEXI ALVIDREZ

IMAGE: FREIGHTWAVES' JOSH RODEN AND LEXI ALVIDREZ

On August 27, PricewaterhouseCoopers released the results of their 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, and their message is loud and clear: “Blockchain is here. What’s your next move?” According to PwC, 84% of respondents are actively involved in blockchain. As things stand, “nobody wants to be left behind,” PwC states. The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) could be the industry’s answer to the ever-pressing question of standardization—after all, 45% of the survey’s respondents believe that the issue of trust could delay blockchain.

BiTA was formed by experienced tech and transportation executives to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. Founded in August 2017, BiTA has quickly grown into the largest commercial blockchain alliance in the world, with more than 450 members that collectively generate over $1 trillion in revenue annually. BiTA members are primarily from the freight, transportation and logistics industries. Alliance members share a common mission to develop a standards framework, educate the market on blockchain applications and encourage the use of those applications.

FreightWaves spoke with Chris Burruss, President of BiTA, as well as Mitch Hixon, BiTA’s EVP of Membership Engagement about where BiTA’s been and where it’s headed.

“I joined BiTA on May 1, 2018 with a goal and objective of assembling the collective community membership towards engagement activities which would yield positive outcomes  More specifically, the opportunity was to attract expertise to discuss, breakdown, and move forward with outcomes which would attack the many pain points across the supply chain,” Hixon explained.

From this came the construction of five think tank working groups:  Risk Management, Operations/Asset Utilization, Driver Marketplace, Finance & Business Administration, and Supply Chain. Hixon said, “when the call went out for membership participation, membership overwhelmingly answered the call to volunteer their time and expertise.”

Today BiTA has over 120 active participants who make up the who's who of thought leadership within the supply chain ecosystem. The cadence for group calls is every thirty days, and there is also a leadership chair call that occurs once a month. Leadership calls focus on sharing best practices and the sharing of ideas for effective progress. “The amount of ground covered since the first introductory call for each group is to be commended,” Hixon noted.

This fall marks the launch of the BiTA Acceleration Program (BAP). “BAP represents the formalizing of a program that we've successfully deployed on a number of occasions—it simply utilizes the expertise, and resources of BiTA staff members for the advancement  of our members companies,” said Hixon. “This can come in the form of formal consulting arrangements, or less formal expertise or advice. We can also provide introductions to other member companies where there is an identified opportunity to benchmark, or a strategic and/or business opportunity. Where mutually determined, commercial outcomes will result from these discussions and interactions.”

Burruss was quick to point out that time is always of the essence—particularly with blockchain standards. “This means that we have to make the best use of your time while ensuring any specifications we intend to publish are sound and fully vetted,” Burruss stated.

In December, the initial board of the BiTA Standards Council (BSC) was formed to begin the buildout of the new organization. “This involved defining who we are and defining our purpose as well as developing bylaws, membership agreement and our Intellectual Property Rights Policy (IPR),” said Burruss.

In April, the board officially assumed control of BSC and began working on the formation of the technical committees and working groups. Since that time, three technical committees have been formed: Data Formats, Interoperability and Finance & Compliance. All of these committees are meeting twice per month to discuss the formation of working groups and provide direction to them.  The technical committees will be announcing open calls for participation in several working groups within the next two weeks.

BiTA intends to publish specifications by the end of the calendar year, if not sooner. “To do this, we will need to be running on all cylinders. I am confident that with the quality of BiTA’s members, we’ll be successful.”

"Being a member of BiTA is exciting enough, but the real reward is in being a member of a team whose ideas and potential outcomes might transform an industry,” Hixon concluded.

Make plans to attend the BiTA Fall Symposium being held Nov. 14th at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center immediately following MarketWaves18 presented at this same venue Nov. 12-13th. The focus of the agenda for BiTA Symposium is to deliver "Updates & Outcomes" to membership.  

Each of the 3 Technical Standards committees & working groups will provide updates, along with all of the chairs from each of the 5 think tank groups. Related outcomes will be presented along with presentations on some very interesting use cases. You'll also hear from some member companies who are deploying blockchain solutions, and from BiTA associates on a menu of offerings adding value to the BiTA Community.