Sonja Greve

Blockchain – When does it really make sense? (Sonja Greve)

Being passionate about Blockchain, Sonja Greve specialised in this technology. As a member of DB Systel’s Blockchain crew, she drives Blockchain’s flagship topics for Transportation & Logistics products, as well as developing and implementing new products and services for distributed ledger technologies. In this interview Sonja Greve explains why every competitive company should at least be familiar with Blockchain technologies.

You want to learn what the Blockchain technology is and when Blockchain useful? Join Sonja’s workshop Blockchain Demystified – What is the Blockchain and when does it really make sense? at #ada18 in Berlin in October.

Interview with Sonja Greve

Sonja, during the big Blockchain hysteria of 2016 & 2017 one could think that everyone who didn’t use distributed ledgers right away would be bankrupt by tomorrow. Does every business need “to be on the Blockchain”?

Sonja Greve: Of course, the short answer is simply “no”, as I don’t think that Blockchain is a panacea or cure-all technology, with which you can solve every problem. However, having said that, I should stress the importance of being aware of or keeping an eye on the latest developments and technologies. For businesses, it is imperative for their survival as well as for maintaining their competitiveness that they keep up with new technologies that might potentially have disruptive impact in their own fields, or they will have to face the threat of ceasing to exist. Blockchain technologies carry a great potential to redefine business processes, to create new business models and even to establish new paradigms of doing business. Therefore, every competitive business should, at least, be familiar with Blockchain technologies.

Now, the mainstream discussion seems to have cooled down a little bit. Has Blockchain’s breakthrough been put on hold?

Sonja Greve: No, it has not been put on hold. One should here note that Blockchain technology is still a new technology and in a nascent phase of its development and adoption. What happened, however, is that Blockchain technology, following its trajectory along Gartner’s Hype Cycle (which provides a graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications) like any other new technologies, reached the peak of its hype phase and now entered the phase, where the developments, activities and projects are driven by more sober approach. Here, a footnote: The hype about Blockhain took place mainly in financial sector, namely cryptocurrencies. However, only recently, we have come to appreciate the real value of Blockchain in other fields and business applications, such as supply chain management, government services, health care, identity management, energy, mobility and logistics.

You are a member of DB Systel’s Blockchain crew. How big is this crew? And is it a “developers only”-club?

Sonja Greve: DB Systel Blockchain Crew consists of approx. 28 members, which focus on the technology from two different perspectives. One of the perspectives handles business development and focuses on determining where Blockchain technology can be employed at Deutsche Bahn, while the other unit is focusing on developing and implementing the projects. So, to answer the latter question: No, it is not a developer only club.

What are DB Systel’s use cases? Which of your existing products are already Blockchain-based?

Sonja Greve: DB Systel works on currently more than 20 use cases, which range from internal cost allocations, mobility ID and track & trace to applications in supply chain management. We have two/three existing products. One of them is called CharityChain. It is used for tracking the donation boxes along their own route to the destination, where the boxes are supposed to be delivered to the people in need. This way, people who participates in donation events could get to see whether the stuff they donated like clothing items or any small useful household gadgets actually arrived there, where they should be and whether they were delivered to the right people who should receive them.
Another live product we have is employed in internal cost allocations. With this Blockchain-based solution, we were able to streamline and to simplify radically the internal cost allocations process, which involves the administration and management of a whole range of activities from contract negotiations, contract handling to settlement of bills. All the while, the solution provides more transparency and automatization.

And what kind of future services are you working on right now?

Sonja Greve: I am currently working on determination, assessment and evaluation of the regulatory issues, challenges impacting Blockchain technology and Blockchain-based solutions.