1. Tell me about yourself! What’s your background like? How/when did you join MOBI?
Rajat: After I completed my doctorate in transportation, I joined Texas A&M University in 2006. During that time, I had the privilege of working with engineers and scientists around the world and also with clients such as USDOT, DHS, CBP, and several small and large state DOTs. In 2017, I published a report on how blockchain technology will change transportation, including logistics. I saw a tremendous opportunity in the application of smart contracts in logistics and supply chain. In late 2018, I started a company called dexFreight, where we are solving ground logistics problems by leveraging blockchain and robotic process automation. The project is still going strong. That was my first experience implementing blockchain to solve enterprise problems. Logistics is one of the key components of the mobility supply chain, so I was thrilled when Chris and Tram presented me with the opportunity to assist MOBI with developing supply chain standards. I joined MOBI as the Working Groups Lead in September 2020.
2. What does your current role at MOBI look like?
At MOBI I manage two working groups — Supply Chain (SC) and Vehicle Identity (VID). In that role, I work closely with the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), suppliers, vendors, and other members to develop supply chain standards, use case identification, reference architectures, and data schemas. I also coordinate with MOBI members and the development team for the proof of concept development. As part of developing these standards and proof of concepts, I have to capture MOBI members’ pain points and their vision for the future in terms of improving the overall supply chain — upstream and downstream — and ensure the standards and POCs address them.
3. You have years of experience as a supply chain expert. What are some of the greatest challenges facing global supply chains today? How is MOBI tackling some of these challenges?
There are several challenges facing the global supply chains today. One that is particularly important is its sustainability — both in terms of environmental and social impact, as well as its governance. Creating an ethical supply chain with minimal carbon footprint for vehicles and parts is the challenge of today and tomorrow. In addition to the regulators, customers and investors are asking OEMs about sustainable supply chains. Creating a sustainable supply chain requires a multi-agency, multi-year effort. I believe OEMs and suppliers can leverage nascent technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence to address these challenges. Hence, MOBI is strongly positioned as a neutral environment to 1) develop industry-led standards, 2) test those standards in a controlled environment, and 3) provide pathways to globally scale solutions.
4. You recently released A Book About Blockchain: How Companies Can Adopt Public Blockchain to Leap into the Future. What inspired this book? What can readers expect to learn?
The Book About Blockchain is really a chronicle of my experience at dexFreight (since it went into publication before I became part of the MOBI team.) I wanted to ensure that those experiences were memorialized somehow. I also felt like entrepreneurs, managers, and executives need a playbook to implement blockchain in their businesses. In order to do that, they need to understand the fundamentals of blockchain, strengths and weaknesses of the technology, and the challenges they will face when designing and implementing blockchain on top of their existing businesses. The book also makes a strong argument not to ignore concepts that may seem outrageous and to instead pay attention to them. I submit in the book that many of these “outrageous” concepts such as prediction markets, NFTs will eventually find their way into enterprise use cases.
5. What can you tell me about the connection between MOBI Trusted Trip and the Supply Chain use cases?
Blockchain has started an amazing phenomenon of decentralized services. At the core of these services lies the notion of privacy preservation using sovereign identity. Trusted Trip utilizes sovereign identity layered with a person/device’s location and time. That means these entities have the ability, on their own terms, to share location and time with any person/device without disclosing identity-related information. Trusted Trip is used in the verification of many activities such as road usage charging, shipment delivery, and Trusted Carbon Emission Tracking. We believe the Trusted Trip is the key primitive of the New Economy of Movement, wherein a participant’s privacy is preserved at all times and new business opportunities in mobility are unlocked. By leveraging sovereign identity and blockchain, Trusted Trips will challenge the age-old trade-off between privacy and location-based services that are essential components of any supply chain.