Bookmark and Share

About this Blog

As enterprise supply chains and consumer demand chains have beome globalized, they continue to inefficiently share information “one-up/one-down”. Profound "bullwhip effects" in the chains cause managers to scramble with inventory shortages and consumers attempting to understand product recalls, especially food safety recalls. Add to this the increasing usage of personal mobile devices by managers and consumers seeking real-time information about products, materials and ingredient sources. The popularity of mobile devices with consumers is inexorably tugging at enterprise IT departments to shifting to apps and services. But both consumer and enterprise data is a proprietary asset that must be selectively shared to be efficiently shared.

About Steve Holcombe

Unless otherwise noted, all content on this company blog site is authored by Steve Holcombe as President & CEO of Pardalis, Inc. More profile information: View Steve Holcombe's profile on LinkedIn

Follow @WholeChainCom™ at each of its online locations:

Entries by Steve Holcombe (178)


Clive Boulton: Whole Chain Traceability, pulling a Kobayshi Maru


A little background information about how this presentation came to be ....

Clive Boulton made this timely, impressive presentation at a luncheon held in Stillwater, Oklahoma on 6 January 2012. Stillwater is where Oklahoma State University - lead research institution of the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium - is located. The pathway to Stillwater from the Seattle area began with the CCNx conference held at the Palo Alto Research Center in September, 2011. I attended CCNxCon to make one or more connections relevant to the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium. Clive wasn't physically at the conference but he was looking in from north of Seattle via a live audio/video stream. Clive heard me asking a question from the audience about possibly applying CCN to supply chain traceability needs in food safety. Like me, Cliive has a passion for food traceability and so he tweeted "Who's that?" to one of the CCNxCon managers. A Twitter introduction was made.

Clive is currently a co-organizer of the Seattle Google Technology User Group at GTUG - He has a "finger on the pulse" of technology developments in Seattle and Silicon Valley which he commonly blogs about at And Clive has specially blogged there about Pardalis' Common Point Authoring at

Clive is particularly interested in enterprise connected consumer solutions at web scale with polyglot technologies. Clive has opinions on how MSFT SQL Azure (or other "Big Data" databases) may be horizontally sharded (i.e., partitioned) with immutable informational objects for massive scalability. He is also very knowledgeable of the need to balance scalability against inherent latency issues that may result, for instance, in slow consumer access via mobile devices. And he has practical ideas about how to syngergistically leverage the resources and relationships of the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium for fostering an ecosystem of API development.

As a result of his visit to Stillwater, I am pleased announce that Clive will be serving as a consultant to the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium a/k/a @WholeChainTrace. This should make for a potent connection between the #CollabEnt (i.e., collaboration enterprise) of Clive's 20th slide and the increasingly critical need for real-time food traceability. Stay tuned.


The Whole Chain Traceability Consortium

The Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™ is currently comprised at its core of researchers, educators, extension specialists and collaborators at Oklahoma State University, North Dakota State University, Michigan State University, the University of Arkansas, and Pardalis, Inc., an Oklahoma advanced  information technology company. These institutions are joined together by "sharing is winning" principles. Steve Holcombe, Pardalis' CEO, serves as a networker and coordinator among, between and beyond these institutions.

The vision of the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™ is that new strategies for "whole chain" management of agricultural and food data - with a security model - are needed. We believe that these new strategies will increase the availability and quality in supply chains of transparent data. We believe that these new strategies will open up exciting sustainable business models for both large and small agricultural companies. We believe that social networking, the emergence of the "Internet of Things", and mobile technologies are dynamically driving this need. And, for instance, we believe that consumers will significantly benefit from real-time access to new data related to the safety of their food.

Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™ coalesced in preparing food safety proposals for over $50M in 2010 USDA NIFA agricultural funding. In August 2011 notification was received of an award (~$550K/3 YRS) under the USDA National Integrated Food Safety Initiative. Pardalis' enterprise-class, multi-tenancy is at the heart of that project. This project begins a process for a patent-hardened open source licensing strategy for food and ag supply chains branded with Pardalis’ Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™.

The Web was originally conceived as a tool for researchers who trusted one another implicitly. Building in the missing layers of trust and provenance that make possible “whole chain” information sharing is one of the “next Big Things” for the Internet. Global patent portfolios are expensive and time-consuming to obtain and protect. Pardalis has been patiently building a formidable global patent portfolio in the U.S., China, the EU and other countries since 2001. These patents cover critical methods for introducing trust and provenance to whole chain information sharing with information-centric networking.

Other funding activities - both national and international - are in process. That includes a pre-submission seeking funding under the NSF Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE). On 19 October 2011 the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™ - led by Oklahoma State University - filed a pre-submission entitled "Advancement of a whole-chain, stakeholder-driven traceability and supply chain management system to improve food safety and reduce food waste". As well phrased by Leo Bonanni of SourceMap, global trade in agricultural and food products is a series of discrete transactions between buyers and sellers. It is generally difficult – if not impossible – to determine a clear picture of the entire life cycle of such products.

The goals of the proposed NSF PIRE research are epitomized by a vision of consumers able to point a smartphone at a food product bar code, and retrieve a global sourcing map and reliable information about the product. This access may help save peoples lives in a food safety recall, verify sustainable agricultural practices, and learn more from consumers about their personal experiences with food products.

Domestic collaborators with the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™ in the NSF PIRE pre-submission include Top 10 Produce, LLC and SourceMap. International collaborators include Dr. Sjaak Wolfert, Sr. Scientific Researcher on ICT in Agri-Food Supply Chain Networks at the University of Wageningen, the Netherlands, and Coordinator of the EU funded Smart Agri-Food Project. Also, Prof. Maohua Wang, College of Information and Electrical Engineering, Chinese Agricultural University – Beijing, China. Prof. Wang is Director of Strategic Research on Key Technology of Agricultural Information Technology funded by National Science Foundation of China.

Check out this and other funding opportunities being discussed and considered by the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™ at">

There are three social networking sites for the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium™. One is the Whole Chain Traceability Funding Opportunities networking group on LinkedIn. Another is on Facebook at the Whole Chain Traceability Consortium page. There is also a Twitter account at @WholeChainTrace. For more information, visit any of these websites or contact any of the following:



A New Way of Looking at Information Sharing in Supply & Demand Chains

The Internet is achieved via layered protocols. Transmitted data, flowing through these layers are enriched with metadata necessary for the correct interpretation of the data presented to users of the Web. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web says, “The Web was originally conceived as a tool for researchers who trusted one another implicitly …. We have been living with the consequences ever since ….” “[We need] to provide Web users with better ways of determining whether material on a site can be trusted ….”

Our lives have nonetheless become better as a result of Web service providers like Google and Facebook. Consumers are now conditioned to believe that they can – or should be able to - search and find information about anything, anytime. But the service providers dictate their quality of service in a one-way conversation that exploits the advantages of the Web as it exists. What may be considered trustworthy content is limited to that which is dictated by the service providers. The result is that consumers cannot find real-time, trustworthy information about much of anything.

Despite all the work in academic research there is still no industry solution that fully supports the sharing of proprietary supply chain product information between “data silos”. Industry remains in the throes of one-up/one down information sharing when what is needed is real-time “whole chain” interoperability. The Web needs to provide two-way, real-time interoperability in the content provided by information producers. Immutable objects have heretofore been traditionally used to provide more efficient data communications between networked machines, but not between information producers. Now researchers are innovatively coming up with new ways of using immutable objects in interoperable, two-way communications between information content providers.

A New Way of Looking at Information Sharing in Supply & Demand chains

Pardalis’ protocols for immutable informational objects make possible a value chain of two-way, interoperable sharing that makes information more available, trustworthy, and traceable. This, in turn, incentivizes increases in the quality and availability of new information leading to new business models.


Pardalis announces issuance of third U.S. patent

STILLWATER, Oklahoma, May 24, 2011 - Pardalis, Inc. announced today the award of a significant continuation patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It is the third patent issued by the USPTO that is relevant to the company’s key intellectual property, Common Point Authoring.

"There is a question commonly asked by information producers who participate in complex supply chains," said CEO and co-inventor Steve Holcombe. "That question is Who owns my data? The every increasing usage of unique identification as applied to both products and people is raising the level of consciousness of information producers about privacy and confidentiality. When the question is not answered to their satisfaction the result is missing or incomplete supply chain information. This has broad implications to the safety of products emanating from supply chains, supply chain efficiencies, value chain economics, supply chain risk analysis, etc. Frankly, this has broad implications to a global economy that is increasingly reliant upon the Internet for conveying trustworthy information."

"A significant reason for these deficiencies has been, as Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said that, "[t]he Web was originally conceived as a tool for researchers who trusted one another implicitly ...." That is, those collegial researchers didn’t concern themselves with data ownership and, consequently, trust mechanisms were not built into the Internet’s protocols."

"Over a decade ago Dr. Marvin Stone and I began creating a global patent portfolio for revealing the means and functions of immutable informational objects containing uniquely identified content. Our reason for doing so was that without immutable content there is really no way to efficiently begin to build trust into the Internet as we know it. Immutable objects had previously been used for networking efficiencies but not for introducing informational trust between content producers, particularly between supply chains participants and consumers."

"While our patents were initially distinguished – and rightly so - from networking efficiency patents held by companies like IBM and Microsoft it wasn’t until distinguishment from a seminal 1993 Xerox patent that the patent examiners really began to understand that Pardalis’ patents were part of a paradigm shift. Now with the fantastic work of Van Jacobson in Project CCNx at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a division of Xerox, we have a wonderful comparable in parallel. What Jacobson calls Content Centric Networking complimentarily overlaps with what we call Common Point Authoring."

Here’s an apropos quotation from Jacobson’s 2006 video, A New Way to Look at Networking (sponsored by Google):

"The biggest things is that you want all of your [uniquely identified] content to be immutable [because] once it's created, it goes out in the world, and you've lost control over it ….That means that if you want to update something, what you do is supersede it with a newer version, and that newer version should reference back to the old version, say hi, I'm the newer version of the [immutable content]. What you've got is probably obsolete. That means that wherever the data is, you can use it. You may have to do some work to find out that you've got the most recent copy of the most recent copy that's accessible to you ….. So, to do that, you want to be able to put sequence and time information, version number information and names. That's easy but something that you need to do and tie into the verification, authentication machinery."

"Earlier this year the World Economic Forum confirmed that content produced by companies and people represents a new economic asset but that the barriers restricting the movement of content through the Internet needs to be resolved. It’s very gratifying to know that Pardalis’ global patent portfolio is on the cusp of a paradigm shift in how the Internet will be used in the networking of trustworthy content."

The issued patent is entitled the Common Point Authoring System for the Complex Sharing of Hierarchically Authored Data Objects in a Distribution Chain, US Patent 7,949,668. Foreign filings relevant to the newly issued patent are being globally pursued and issued in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Mexico.

About Pardalis, Inc.

Pardalis' mission is to promote the granular sharing of confidential, trustworthy and traceable information along complex supply chains, and within the emerging data web, by empowering information owners and producers with innovative Common Point AuthoringTM methods. For more information, see A New Way of Looking at Information Sharing in Supply & Demand Chains.


Real-time, supply chain test marketing of new product lines 

Assume that a retailer, a class of beef product pre-retailers (i.e., wholesalers, processors and vertically integrated operators), and a class of consumers are all multi-tenant members of a centralized personal data store for sharing supply chain information.

I gave an example of a multi-tenant Food Recall Data Bank in an earlier blog entitled Consortium seeks to holistically address food recalls. At the time I wrote this earlier blog I vacillated between calling it what I did, or calling it a VRM Data Bank. I refrained from calling it the latter because while the technology application is potentially very good for consumers (i.e., food recalls tied to point of sale purchases) it still felt too much like it was rooted in the world of CRM. For more about the VRM versus CRM debate see The Bullwhip Effect.

Below is a technology application whereby supply chain tenants may register their CPA informational objects with permissions and other instructions for how those objects may be minimally accessed, used and further shared by and to other supply chain participants. What one then has is what may more appropriately be called a VRM Data Tenancy System (VRM DTS).

So what can one do with this architecture? How can it get started in the marketplace of solutions? A reasonable beginning point is with real-time, supply chain test marketing of new food product lines. And by supply chain test marketing, I mean something clearly more than just consumer test marketing. What I am describing below is multi-directional, feedback loop for:

  1. test marketing a new consumer product line for the purpose of driving retail sales, and
  2. concurrently generating procurement and wholesale interest and support from pre-retailers.

Assume that a retailer has been receiving word of mouth consumer interest in a particular beef product class (e.g., "ethically raised" beef products). Assume that pre-retailers have heretofore not been all that interested in raising, processing or purchasing "ethically raised" meat products for wholesale.

An initial "test market" object is authored and registered by the retailer for polling consumer interest via asynchronous authoring by individual consumers of their store outlet preferences, likely beef product quantity purchases of the new product line per week, etc. This object is revealed to a consumer class via their tenancies in the VRM DTS. The object is concurrently revealed to a class of pre-retailers via their tenancies, too. Each consumer is anonymous to the other consumers, and anonymous to the pre-retailers. Each pre-retailer is anonymous to the other pre-retailers, and anonymous to the consumers. But each consumer, as is each pre-retailer, is nonetheless privy to the consumers' real-time poll and the pre-retailers' real-time poll. The retailer watches all, being privy to the actual identities of both consumers and pre-retailers, while at the same time the retailer’s customer and pre-retailer client lists remain anonymous.

With this kind of real-time sharing of information, one can begin to imagine a competitive atmosphere arising among the pre-retailers. Furthermore, there is no reason the retailer's object could be further authored by the retailer to solicit real-time offers from the pre-retailers to procure X quantities of the beef products for delivery to identified outlets of the retailer by dates certain, in the same specific beef product class, etc. And there's no reason the "test market" object could not be further used to finalize a procurement contract with one or more pre-retailers ...

... which at the moment of execution shares real-time, anonymized information over to consumers as to dates of delivery of X quantity of beef products at identified retail outlets.

The "test market" object could be further designed for the consumer class to asynchronously provide real-time feed-back to the retailer regarding their experiences with the purchased product, and to perhaps do so even back to the pre-retailers based upon GLNs and GTINs. Depending on the retailer's initial design of the "test market" object, this consumer feedback to pre-retailers may be anonymous or may specifically identify a branded product. And, because food safety regulators are seeking "whole chain" traceability solutions, the government can be well apprised with minimal but real-time disclosures.

The dynamic business model for employing a VRM DTS includes greater supply chain transparency (increased, ironically, with consumer and pre-retailer anonymity), food discount incentives, real-time visualizations, new data available for data mining, and new product outlets for pre-retailers who have not previously provided products to the retailer. Perhaps most significantly there is the identification by the retailer of best of breed pre-retailers and loyal, committed consumers via an “auction house” atmosphere ...


... created from the sharing of real-time, sometimes anonymous information, between and among the pre-retailers and consumers.