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SAP community warming to iSHARE

Data sharing is extremely common among supply chain partners. Every company that uses SAP software is involved in some form of data sharing with customers, suppliers and/or service providers – but how can that be organized smartly and efficiently? Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) recently organized a seminar on ‘Innovation for Digital Transformation’ and invited members of the SAP network to attend. During the seminar Douwe Lycklama, Founding Partner at INNOPAY and iSHARE Lead, held a presentation on the iSHARE Scheme. The scheme enables companies in the transport and logistics industry to share data more easily, more quickly and in a more controlled manner – not only with existing partners, but also with new ones. iSHARE attracted a lot of interest and also generated plenty of questions.

Consumers in the Netherlands no longer think twice about using iDEAL. If they purchase goods online, they use iDEAL to pay for them in complete confidence, without any doubt about whether their money will end up with the right recipient. Moreover, no one is concerned about the security of their payment details. “Many people call iDEAL a platform, but it is actually a standard for online payments. iDEAL might feel like a platform, but it isn’t. There’s a crucial difference,” said Lycklama during the HPE seminar.

Two-sided markets

INNOPAY played a significant role in the development of iDEAL. During that project, Lycklama learned a lot about data sharing within ‘two-sided markets’: markets in which two parties have different propositions but shared interests. Encompassing both retailers and banks, the world of online payments is an example of a two-sided market. “If each bank had wanted to facilitate online payments via a platform, consumers or companies would have only been able to do business with one bank or would have needed accounts with all the banks,” stated Lycklama.

A set of agreements

The solution lies in a set of agreements or scheme for data sharing, and iSHARE is just such a scheme. “And not a platform!” emphasized Lycklama. He went on to explain that iSHARE has been developed by and for the transport and logistics sector on behalf of the Dutch government’s Logistics Top Sector. INNOPAY has been supervising that process. The scheme was set up in co-creation with a large number of partners from the logistics sector in 2017. The first partners have since implemented the scheme in their solutions and the first transactions took place earlier this year.

 “iSHARE is a scheme for identification, authentication and authorization,” said Lycklama. “We have reached agreements at the functional, technical, operational and legal level. What iSHARE actually does is create access to data. Data remains at the source, and the companies that own the data decide themselves about which data they are willing to share and which they are not. The scheme is managed by an independent body, the iSHARE Scheme Owner. Companies have to implement the scheme properly and be approved by the body in order to join the scheme. They then become part of the network of trust within which organizations can share data effortlessly.”

Trusted third party

The SAP partners attending the seminar had plenty of questions about iSHARE. Can iSHARE be compared to a trusted third party? “More or less,” said Lycklama in reply. “A retailer doesn’t first carefully examine your debit card before you use it in the payment terminal, and it’s the same with iSHARE. iSHARE is like a stamp of approval which provides reassurance that the other partner really is who he claims to be and that he will handle your data correctly.”

So can companies decide for themselves which data they share? “That’s right, they have full control over which partner is allowed to use which data and when. All those conditions can be noted down in fine detail,” assured Lycklama. “The data isn’t transferred from place to place either. Partners access the data they have been authorized for at the source. As to whether we can prevent that data subsequently being copied? No, iSHARE can’t prevent that, but – thanks to the legal agreements that also form part of iSHARE – the culprit can be held liable for such behaviour if necessary. Ultimately, any member that fails to keep to the agreements can be ejected from the scheme.” 

Delegating to partners

According to Lycklama, iSHARE offers lots of benefits for the transport and logistics sector. For example, companies no longer need to reach data-sharing agreements with each of their partners individually. They can delegate the rights to access their data to partners. This is particularly ideal for the logistics sector, where many carriers outsource shipments to subcontractors. “Imagine that an unfamiliar carrier’s truck turns up at a container terminal. Providing the original carrier has correctly delegated the access rights to the subcontractor in iSHARE, the terminal can still give the driver access to the data.”

One of the current pilot projects using iSHARE is related to the import of fresh fruit from abroad. “Since iSHARE enables data to be shared more quickly and earlier, it means that the customer can arrange a truck sooner and so the fruit can be in stores sooner,” explained Lycklama. Is iSHARE also proof of the quality of the information being exchanged? “No, we have not made any agreements about the nature and content of the data and that includes its quality. That was never the intention. iSHARE is suitable for all transactions.” 

Digital transformation

The numerous questions from the attendees reinforced HPE’s belief that iSHARE is playing an important role in boosting the digital transformation among businesses. “That’s why we have become a partner and why we included this topic in our seminar programme,” commented Arie den Boer, Alliance Business Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “iSHARE is aimed at optimizing supply chain processes through data sharing, and that’s also the reason why companies use SAP’s software. The service providers and system integrators we invited to the seminar are supporting those companies.”

If you would like to know more about how a set of uniform agreements can help you to optimize your business, please contact us.

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