The logistics sector faces challenges which are forcing organisations to cooperate in smarter ways. More effective data sharing can improve efficiency and reduce costs and CO2 emissions. But sharing data can be a headache, often relying on proprietary technology and time-consuming integrations.
iSHARE is challenging this status quo. By building upon scalable trust principles from the payment and identity industry, it is laying the foundations for a revolution in simple, cost-effective, and safe data sharing, even with previously unknown partners. In effect, taking the logistics sector to the next level of data exchange maturity.
In 2018, major logistics actors will enable the entire sector to reap the benefits of improved data sharing by bringing iSHARE's current Proofs of Concept into the production stage.
So what is iSHARE?
iSHARE is an industry-wide collaboration project facilitated by our Dutch office.
It was initiated by the Top Sector Logistics, a Dutch Government Grant Program to further boost the Netherlands’ profile as "the Gateway to Europe". iSHARE is funded by the program as an innovative public-private project, and co-financed by participating private sector organisations.
iSHARE's objective is simple – to enable all players in the logistics industry to connect with each other on the basis of mutual trust, irrespective of type, size, modality and jurisdiction.
As such it is an infrastructure, just like roads, ports and rail tracks. But one of a non-physical nature. iSHARE is not a technical platform through which data flows; it only deals with identification, authentication and authorisation of actors.
"By doing this, iSHARE will deliver a transformational level of maturity in the way organisations share data with partners, and provide data-based services to customers", explains Gijs Burgers, the scheme owner at INNOPAY.
The industry has attempted to tackle these challenges before, and there is no shortage of technology in the market. But progress is continually hampered by a lack of trust, minimal standards, increasing fragmentation and concerns about data privacy. Barriers to integration are often high, and local solutions are continually being re-invented.
So why should iSHARE be successful where others have failed?
1. iSHARE is based on shared agreements, not a technology solution
iSHARE is achieving its goals through the creation of a scheme of standardised framework agreements, resulting in a network of trust because all actors behave the same way. The scheme provides all the essential functional, technical, legal and operational standards that are needed for organisations within the iSHARE community to share data.
"And crucially, iSHARE does not dictate which technology platforms should be used to facilitate these connections," says Gijs.
Participants will use the scheme to enable their own technical infrastructures to communicate with new and existing partners and customers, confident in the knowledge that appropriate standards are used by all parties. Organisations will choose how much data they share and with whom they share it. There will be no central proprietary technology platform that everyone needs to use. Only a central governance and a central directory of trusted parties in the network.
iSHARE places the emphasis on connections which are as flexible, light and agile as possible. And not forcing organisations down a specific technology pathway over which they have limited control or which is dependent on third party commercial players.
"iSHARE is a community of mutual benefit; technical centralisation and commercial lock-in would be contrary to its spirit," explains Gijs.
2. iSHARE promotes the mutual trust and cooperation which are central to success
The iSHARE community brings together the expertise of public and private sector organisations with one aim: to agree on a way forwards in which all parties will benefit from greater collaboration. So underpinning everything is the sense of mutual trust which INNOPAY, a 'neutral' expert in digital transactions, with no commercial foothold in the logistics world, has fostered within the iSHARE community.
Gijs explains that the collaborative ethos has really blossomed this year: "During our first meetings, we worked hard to establish a safe environment for discussion in which everyone felt comfortable looking beyond their own interests. Once we achieved that, the group became really energised, and the innovation started to flow. The group's focus is now on how iSHARE can really help to improve data sharing, create efficiencies and develop business opportunities across the whole sector".
Once iSHARE is up and running, its future management and development will be handed over to an industry-led governance group. The future of iSHARE will be owned by the sector itself, and its destiny lies in the community's own hands. So the mutual trust and cooperation which has grown throughout the project will remain vital to everyone's success.
Nice theory. But will iSHARE really work?
If iSHARE's focus on shared agreements and mutual collaboration sounds altruistic, then think again. It's real. Now.
At the ICT & Logistics trade fair last month, iSHARE successfully demonstrated how three organisations with totally independent systems can connect and safely share data. In a world where "everything's transaction", iSHARE is already showing how transactions can be automated between multiple parties in the supply chain.
The team continues to refine the iSHARE scheme, and working groups meet regularly to sharpen the focus and implement further tests. A host of major players are involved in shaping iSHARE, including several government ministries and private organisations of all sizes from all corners of the logistics sector, including parties from Belgium and Germany. In spring 2018, the first publicly accessible version of iSHARE will be launched.
Is this a game changer?
Yes. But success will depend on the industry, and its continued openness to collaborate and build trust. If the logistics sector continues to work together for mutual benefit, then iSHARE can potentially guide it towards a fundamentally new level of data exchange maturity.
iSHARE is laying the foundations for simple and controlled data sharing. Do you want to learn how INNOPAY can take you also to the next level of data exchange? Get in touch with us.