Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese military strategist wrote in The Art of War:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
In a business sense, besides knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you have to know who is your real competitor, who can really endanger your path to success.
This is what it seems to be missing from most people in crypto.
It’s quite well known that supporters of supply chain management related blockchain projects are always debating on Reddit, Telegram, or any other forum. Every technical, token economics, or business related comparison ends up in fights.
Many token holders see other crypto projects in the same industry as a threat, which needs to be attacked at any cost. Vechain vs Waltonchain, or Ambrosus vs Modum fights have a long history.
People who participate in it are living in the crypto bubble, and project it to the traditional business world.
In reality, all these projects are tiny startups, and mean no real threat. Vechain, Waltonchain, Ambrosus, OriginTrail, Wabi, Devery, and TE-FOOD combined don’t represent more than 0,1% market share in the food supply industry, let alone the whole supply chain industry.
They might have some decent partnerships, but a partnership is not market share.
They might be well known brands within the crypto space, but outside of it they are unknown crypto startups. This is not necessarily a problem, but from 10 potential supply chain customers, 9 never heard about these companies, so they don’t seem to be too dangerous to each other’s success.
Where is the competition?
The real competitors of them are the established non-crypto solution providers. These companies are outside the crypto bubble, not affected by token economics. And they also started offering blockchain solutions.
Any local branch of IBM, SAP, T-Systems, Accenture, Microsoft, Atos, EPAM, DXC, Capgemini, Oracle, TATA Consulting, Cognizant, NTT Data, or any Big 4 company has larger sales power, closer ties to governments and enterprises than the mentioned crypto startups. They have a lot of existing customers, have been trusted suppliers for decades, have funding, tens of thousands of developers, and unimaginably strong sales force. And finally, they are not operating in a regulatory gray area like crypto startups.
If there is a real threat, it’s them.
Yet, they are not considered as a danger by most crypto enthusiasts, because
- these companies are out of sight,
- they think the cutting edge technology promised in their White Papers of crypto startups will be superior,
- they believe the token economics which provide trustless operation will be convincing, and
- they assume democratic access to information is a priority for everyone.
Regretfully these advantages are not so important for supply chain companies. They don’t care about the technology and economics of the distant future, they are thinking in business years and quarterly plans.
They care about business integration, accountability of the supplier, risk management of the project, and they trust their suppliers. Many of them think public access to their data is dangerous, and they are uninterested in crypto tokens. Certainly a lot will change in the next years, but right now, when we talk to food companies, the question is not Vechain or Waltonchain, but “What exactly is Ethereum?”.
Where does it leave us?
For crypto startups to thrive in this environment may seem challenging, but the future is not so dark.
- These large solution provider companies are focusing on a wide range of services, and they usually have more projects than they can accomplish, so partnering with them can bring trust, and new customers.
- Their services can be quite costly, which only large companies can afford. This leaves a huge market available.
- While most of the large supply chain companies prefer trusted suppliers, occasionally they give a chance to startups as well. Pilots can lead to roll outs, roll outs can lead to market recognition.
- Focusing on, and mastering a narrow target market can be a convincing argument to be a recognized solution provider, as the large IT suppliers are always involved in a broad range of services.
- Mergers and acquisitions in crypto could be an important phase to create companies which are strong enough to compete with the traditional giants. Regretfully the current high capitalizations don’t help this phase.
All in all, we shouldn’t be afraid of each other. The work done by Vechain, Waltonchain, Ambrosus, OriginTrail, Wabi, Devery, and TE-FOOD educates the supply chain industry, and helps decision makers to learn more about these concepts of a decentralized economy.
And who knows? Maybe eventually they will listen, so the public and decentralized solutions achieve worldwide adoption.