Jolanda has more than 25 years of experience in helping business leaders worldwide with the transition to a new digital society, and educating innovation and new technology to a broad audience. This is where V-ID’s and Jolanda’s mission have much in common. Having worked for corporates and government, advising on innovation, change management and technical and management development programs, Jolanda clearly understands the needs of business leaders and other professionals of different levels and fields of expertise.
Pim: What was the click that made you convinced of the potential of blockchain technology? When and how did that happen?
Jolanda: I have a background in ICT, Education and Innovation/Change Management, and have always been looking for a way to combine the three. A few years ago, I was at a conference about innovation and change, in a huge building in Amsterdam. I planned to visit some workshops and at a certain point I got a bit lost in the building. At the last moment I walked into a workshop room and sat down. It turned out to be the ‘wrong’ workshop: it said “Blockchain” on the screen. I had never heard of it, but felt that I couldn’t leave the room now as it was about to start. So I sat down and listened. The presenter started talking about “nodes”, “encryption” and other IT related subjects, that I could still follow. But then he said “and because of this we may not need banks anymore in the future”…… He completely lost me there! I left the workshop and forgot about it. But then of course, suddenly you see the word “Blockchain” everywhere. It is like when you buy a blue car, you will see blue cars everywhere. So I dug deeper into the subject. But at that time, there were no ‘Blockchain basics” courses that you could follow, nor were there easy to understand YouTube videos about it. The more I understood about the impact that Blockchain will have, and how it will transform our society for the better, the more I decided that this information should be accessible for everybody. And that is why I started my business to educate, inform and guide people on their Blockchain journey.
What is the impact of your expertise in HR on your approach to blockchain technology?
That there is always a human side to the use of technology or new methods. Technology and other instruments are a mean to reach a goal, not a goal by itself.
I have seen that in the HR business, where you would think everything would be about the HUMAN resources. But I experienced there too that instruments, like dashboards or competence management, become a goal by itself, a checkbox that needs to be ticked, instead of an instrument that could be used to reach the real goal. And the real goal is always about the human side of it: how can we make clients more satisfied, how can we increase employee satisfaction so they work with more pleasure and are more productive. And this will produce better business results too.
So Blockchain is not a goal by itself, Blockchain is a technology that we can use under certain circumstances, that can help us to transact in another way.
What is the biggest misconception about blockchain you encounter at the organisations you advise?
Besides the obvious thought that Blockchain=Bitcoin, I see that people think that Blockchain is just another database. They think that Blockchain is just like another IT-system they have to learn. But to speak with the words from Jamie Dimon, after his revelation to Blockchain technology: ”this digitization is not just another layer on top of the old society”. It will actually transform the way we do things and will make old systems obsolete.
What does your work consist of as a member of the EU Commission Blockchain Observatory & Forum?
I am a member of the working group “Use Cases and Transition Scenarios” where we identify and research issues and potential needs for the EU concerning Blockchain, with experts from all the EU member states. We then write and publish thematic reports on those themes that are easy to understand by the general audience. So far we have written four reports last year:
Blockchain Innovation in Europe
Scalability, Interoperability and Sustainability of Blockchains
What are your contributions as an advisor for ISO and NEN?
For the past year I have represented the Netherlands and NEN for the Study Group “Use Cases” in the ISO Technical Committee for Blockchain and DLT. Since the beginning of 2019 I represent the Netherlands in the Advisory Group for the ISO Strategic Business Plan and the communication group for informing businesses and society about the ISO work on Blockchain and DLT.
Being an advisor, you visit lots of organisations in many sectors. Which sector or field is, in your view, the best candidate for blockchain adoption today?
The sector where the main focus is on verifying documents and change of ownership, like real estate for example. But we do need a reliable and secure system for e-identification for that. Not only the identification of people, but also that of objects, organizations and services in the online world.
Your mission as blockchain educator and V-ID’s mission have some great overlap. If blockchain is part of our future society, and businesses could gain a lot from it, what are the biggest hurdles we still need to take?
For mass adoption of the Blockchain technology, I believe it is of the utmost importance that people have a basic understanding and insight of what Blockchain is and how it will affect the way of transacting and dealing with each other. It is something that concerns everybody that in one way or another transacts with something or somebody else. Not only the ‘technology’ people, but everybody in society.
Thanks so much!