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The Blockchain Work Revolution

Andrew SpenceHR Technology2018 10 22
The Blockchain Work Revolution
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Last year, I described the features of blockchain and how it could potentially change the world of work in How Will Blockchain Impact HR?

Since then, a lot has happened in blockchain.  There’s been a frenzy of startups raising capital through Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) to add to a wide range of solutions, from tracking blood diamonds and mangos, to decentralised web browsers where advertisers pay for your attention.

I also published a research paper “Blockchain and the CHRO” for the Blockchain Research Institute, which you can download.

As Don Tapscott, writes in his foreword,

“Blockchain is an exciting opportunity for HR to become a truly strategic function in the enterprise that is emerging…”

When I started my research, I found about 10-15 start-ups working in the HR space, now I am now tracking 85 different start-ups with new one’s popping up every week.  I am also seeing much more interest in blockchain from the HR tech industry.

What Problems Need Solving Now in the World of Work?

To avoid being a solution looking for a problem, we need to fix current problems.

Let’s start with hiring. Here, we have issues with prejudice and bias, low levels of trust in centralised social networks, spam, and high fees to intermediaries. From an economist’s perspective, there is poor visibility of information on available workers and vacancies, and this leads to inefficient matching. There is also low confidence in identity and candidate qualifications, with up to half of candidates lying or embellishing their credentials.

Where “Studied at Harvard” can mean “studied Harvard Business Review.” 

The main opportunities for using blockchain in HR

We now have the opportunity to bring people management into the digital age, by fixing some of the data and infrastructure problems.  I am seeing most activity in four broad areas:

Identity Management and Career Profiles — used to validate who someone is, see for example, uPort or Civic. Dock, are creating a decentralised data exchange for the professional world that allows people to connect their profiles, reputation with privacy and security.

Credential Verification Platforms – using blockchain to confirm identity and verify credentials such as work history, references, employment history, skills, university degrees. See companies such as APPIIZinc and BlockCerts.

Worker Payment Platforms Chronobank are piloting paying construction workers almost immediately based on their physical presence on a job site. See also companies such as WorkchainEtch and Horus Pay in this space.

Work Matching Platforms — here we can see blockchain versions of upwork or Fiverr, for a range of different types of work, see for example Indorse, Moonlighting, BlueWhale, Experty and Covee.

What is the impact on how we might work in the future?

Over time, organisations will be able to find the talent they need when they need it. As the gig economy becomes more transparent, liquid, and beneficial to all stakeholders, organisations will require fewer full-time employees.

Blockchain should reduce recruitment costs and give employers direct access to available and qualified workers, fundamentally changing the role of HR and creating radically new work organisations.

The role of CHRO changes to building effective ecosystems and people networks.  Instead of the focus on ‘jobs’, there will be more focus on sourcing ’tasks’ and  encouraging portfolio careers.

So what you can you do to find out more about blockchain at work?

If you have questions about this topic, contact me through my profile on Earn.com and pay $20, with proceeds going to the charity, Code to Inspire.  Earn is a nice way to earn some crypto by answering questions, you won’t get rich but gain a better understanding of tokens and wallets.

Read articles on ‘Blockchain and the Distributed Workforce’ on Medium.

Enrol for the ‘Blockchain and HR e-learning course’ with the Digital HR Academy

I think there will be a revolution in how we think about work, and blockchain will play a part in that.  Currently I am working with startups, visionaries, early adopters and policymakers to help build the next generation of fairer, better work platforms.

Come find me at UNLEASH in Amsterdam (speaking on Day 2 at 2.35) and let’s continue the conversation!

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