Blockchain: Businesses and Jobs of the Future.
Blockchain technology has generated a lot of buzz in last few years. Simply put, Blockchain is a decentralized system for managing data and keeping accounts. The technology was invented to power Bitcoin transactions and most cryptocurrencies today are run on the blockchain technology. The uses of this technology have however gone beyond cryptocurrencies and the financial industry to many other areas including Supply chain logistics, Healthcare, Energy and Retail, to mention a few.
There is no doubt that disruptive technologies usually leave a lot of changes in their wake and Blockchain is no exception. Just like Artificial Intelligence is taking away many jobs and creating new ones, blockchain technology will do the same. The focus here is to see how it will affect jobs, which ones will likely be taken out and which will be added.
The core value of the blockchain technology is that it enables a database to be shared without a central administrator. Processes are also made less cumbersome when users are able to cut through existing protocols to get things done. This could spell doom for jobs that were tied to such protocols. At the 2017 DC Blockchain summit, Blythe Masters, the CEO of Digital Assets Holdings New York estimated that about 30-60% of jobs could be rendered redundant, simply because people are now able to share data with a common record.
Which industries do we expect to see these jobs reduce or completely disappear? While the impact of the Blockchain Technology is expected to impact every industry in the future, the following are already experiencing the change.
Several industries have been disrupted by the Blockchain technology, and the trend is expected to continue. This is because the technology is expected to become applicable to almost all businesses and human transactions, an impact similar to that of the internet in the late 1990s. Experts believe blockchain technology will go mainstream in 2018 as many business and organizations begin to adopt it for use. IBM, Maersk, the Danish shipping giant and Agility, a logistics company, announced they were teaming up to form a new Blockchain company that will commercialize the technology for use in the shipping industry. The new company plans to digitize the global supply chain in two ways; by firstly, creating a pathway of seamless exchange of information among all the players along the supply chain and secondly, automating all paperwork that will enable end users to submit, validate and approve documents with the use of smart contracts. The smart contracts will facilitate required approvals, speed up the whole process and ultimately reduce the time and cost for cargo movement and clearance. Shipchain is another player in this industry using blockchain technology to revolutionize the shipping industry by providing a platform to ‘track and trace’ goods efficiently.
In financial services, blockchain has changed the way things are done as financial services providers are using the technology for cross border payments, identity systems and trade finance. A fintech provider, R3, formed a consortium with twenty-two banks to develop an international payments system that is designed to allow existing central bank currencies and any new digital currencies to be transacted through the blockchain.
Blockchain is being tested in real estate. An example is a real estate start-up, which is working with Vermont City to use the technology to record property transactions. The technology has the potential to transform the real estate industry through the method of keeping absolute records of ownership and also drawing up smart contracts among the players in the industry.
Several other industries have explored the use of Blockchain: the music industry where challenges such as payment of artists, attribution rights, ticketing, audio content distribution to mention a few being tackled by blockchain startups. Also, the energy sector is experiencing its own disruption with several blockchain-based energy distribution and sharing platforms emerging with different solutions to identified problems. In recruitment services, the use of the technology is gaining ground as well. Technojobs UK announced in 2017 that it will partner with the world’s first blockchain career verification platform APPII to allow candidates apply for roles with blockchain-verified resumes. Jobs.com also recently announced its new Blockchain-based platform, which efficiently cuts out middlemen recruiters from the hiring process. The platform is expected to address problems such as fake listings, irrelevant job notifications and jobs mismatch.
Jobs in, Jobs out
In the midst of all the hype and excitement, it is inevitable that all these developments will gradually impact jobs. Many services will be affected by blockchain implementation, especially with the focus on cost savings and faster operations. In supply chain and logistics, middlemen roles will be drastically reduced and will be used only when necessary, according to Shipchain. Certain services in financial markets such as jobs in document storage, inventory accounting and bookkeeping, will be at risk, since blockchain allows the creation of an incorruptible distributed ledger with every transaction. The same goes for many jobs in the other industries such as brokers, agents and other forms of intermediary and verification jobs roles.
On the other hand, many jobs will be created. Jobs for blockchain developers, programmers, researchers and engineers are evolving while jobs related to blockchain security, like encryption, data and identity protection jobs will emerge. As already seen, jobs in alternative financing are now available, including cryptocurrency analysts and investment advisory jobs. The demand for education and training on the technology will also increase as it goes mainstream; companies will need to train their staff as they adopt the technology. Laws, policies and agreements protecting investors, businesses and end users of blockchain will be drawn up and careers are expected to evolve around this as well.
The Future is already here
As mentioned earlier, 2018 is the year that blockchain technology is expected to go mainstream. The future is already here, and a lot of activities geared towards further development and adoptions are in top gear. The challenge is to understand what the technology will mean for you, your business and for the future as a whole.
Implications for Business
If you own a business, bear in mind that you will deal with technology disruptions at one time or another, and you don’t want to be a late adopter; this is one reason customers moved away from business to the competition. You must therefore keep abreast of your industry’s trends and developments and educate yourself on the innovations. For example, this might a good time to assess the advantages or otherwise of blockchain to your industry. Assess what the big organizations in your industry are already doing with the technology and learn from their successes and challenges. Listen to experts and providers of the technology via blogs, podcasts and webinars. Try to understand what your customer behavior will be when the technology goes mainstream and what demands will be made at the time. Finally, take steps to experiment with the technology when the opportunity arises and involve the people working with you. This could be a chance to familiarize them with the technology.
The blockchain technology is still evolving and a lot of its potentials are still unclear to the business community. Opportunities and challenges will become clearer in the future and the burden is to proactively get engaged in the discourse and avoid getting left behind. Those who work to understand and adapt to the changes have the advantage of benefitting from the full potential of the technology in the not too distant future.