Written by David Renwick
The real future of shipping is an exclusive series hosted by Starshipit and involving global experts.
From AI-driven personalisation to delivery innovations and widespread sustainability initiatives, there’s no shortage of trends to stay up to date on. Check out the other articles right here on our blog.
The issue for anyone doing business in eCommerce today is understanding which trends are likely to affect how they do business – and if they need to act today.
We sat down with enterprise architect and digital transformation expert Waylon Kenning to learn a little more about a concept called verifiable data. While you may not have heard much about it to date, things are happening behind the scenes which could make it a household term in the very near future.
Waylon Kenning is an enterprise architect and IT consultant specialising in strategy and governance. He provides(unbiased) advice on digital transformation, technology structure, and management. His goal is to simplify complex IT challenges, offer practical solutions, and help organizations optimize their IT landscape in the digital era.
Hey there! So, my name is Waylon Kenning. I’m an enterprise architect based out of Wellington, New Zealand. I’m also a former member of the Executive Council of Digital Identity New Zealand.
We’ve all seen a shipping document, a waybill etc. The first copy looks pristine, but then a photocopy, it looks a little faded. Then a photocopy of that photocopy? It’s looking rough. Each person, each interaction further and further away from the original waybill or shipping document becomes less clear, less confident.
Verifiable data means wrapping that shipping document, or waybill with a digital signature. Everyone can verify that data is accurate, and not tampered with. Whether you’re the original recipient, or a freight forwarder, or a person 100 transactions down the line, that data is just as verifiable for the 100th person as the first person.
When it comes to eCommerce shipping, a lot of complex information needs to travel with the parcel. Customs, insurance, agents, valuations. Imagine all that information with the equivalent of a wax seal, something that says, “this is authentic, and has not been touched, and can be trusted”. Every email about needing new documents, every email requesting clarification, all disappears.
I think it’s important to consider how much effort is spent on paperwork. Verifiable data will reduce that effort, will reduce compliance, the double checking. I think it’s something to be mindful of, but it’s hard to take action right now.
I think that all data will be verifiable by all parties in that supply chain. The exporter, the freight forwarder, the airline or shipping company, Customs, the importer, the agent, Biosecurity, the courier, the wholesaler, the retailer, the customer. Everyone will be able to see and have confidence in information relating to that good.
Everyone will be able to verify themselves that documentation relating to shipping is authentic, [there will be] no need to double check documents or resend them.
The advantage is that everyone will be able to verify themselves that documentation relating to shipping is authentic, no need to double check documents or resend them. The challenge will be there’s new technologies that are required to do this, so there will be some effort to adopt those, but expect to see an increasing legislative focus on this in my opinion.
Imagine New Zealand Manuka Honey. Where does the value come from? From the trust that this honey contains a unique Manuka factor. The trust turns simple honey to very valuable honey. But how does the end consumer have that trust? How do they verify it? Imagine a QR code, digitally signed, with data that is verifiable offline, guaranteed to be trustworthy. That provenance, that story that comes with the product - that’s what generates all the value.
There are a few emerging technical standards, including a popular one called W3C Verifiable Credentials. A few companies are starting to produce software in this space, such as Microsoft Entra Verified ID, but these are very technical products at the moment. I’d take a “wait and see approach” as industry consensus emerges around technologies used.
Every single interaction you have with another organization or customer. Your bank. Your suppliers. The Government. In the future, these will all be secured using Verifiable Credentials. Start to consider these technologies, consider which supply chains of yours can benefit from these technologies, and start to ask your technology providers what their plans are to further adopt these technologies, and enhance the trust you have when transacting digitally.
And that concludes our interview with Waylon Kenning. As you can see, there’s a lot that needs to be done before verifiable data makes its way into the mainstream, but it’s certainly something to start thinking about now – particularly if you have a product like New Zealand Manuka Honey with a value requiring a trust factor.
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