The impact of blockchain and other new technologies on HR
Blockchain is without a doubt one of the buzzwords of recent times. Just about every company is participating in blockchain projects, or looking to find a project to participate in. Key in blockchain is collaboration, as blockchain is per definition something where all parties in a chain need to collaborate. The Dutch government is also actively participating in this innovation, having set up a National Blockchain coalition with an agenda in logistics, energy, finance, knowledge sharing and the role of the government.
The average consumer and employee are not really aware of these activities yet, but are expected to experience the effects in the mid long term. Because of the vast impact, it is time to look at the consequences for organisations and workforce.
Why we need to look at organisations and workforce
Blockchain is being seen as the heart of many technological developments and will have a big impact on people, organisations and society. However, relatively little is known about this subject. People have heard of bitcoin, and sometimes know that it is to do with blockchain, but that is about it. Few have heard about the first publication on bitcoin that was published as recent 2009, the basis of the wider blockchain movement that we see today. In essence blockchain is much more than just bitcoin. With a distributed database between nodes containing data that cannot be changed but can only be added, the possibilities with this technology are endless. The various nodes contain the same data, skipping the necessity for external control of checks and balances, making auditing something that can be done overnight if necessary at all. Needless to say that this influences the departments of finance, control and internal or external audit and their industries, as well as the people who work in those fields. The same goes for industries where subsequent transactions take place, such as notary, chamber of commerce, payments, insurance, mortgages, loans, supply chain management, taxes, ownership in any form, logistics, et cetera. And what does that all mean for job profiles, organisation charts, alignment of flex teams, recruitment, education, et cetera, with other words for the human resources department?
The notary example
When buying or selling a house, transfer of ownership can be put on the blockchain. The process of buying or selling a house is rather standard. The details of the contract can be programmed into smart contracts, and executed when validated according to conditions, without the help of a notary. However, to make the transformation, the help of notaries will be needed in order to put trust in the system. The blockchain will be a public blockchain, although a private blockchain may also be an option in which case a controlling entity such as a notary will be probable to ensure consistency in updates of software.
The chamber of commerce example
In the case of setting up companies through companies house, the process is based in rules and legislation. With blockchain it may be possible to forego the Chamber of commerce and the notary, and set up a company through smart contracts. The companies register is public, but setting the blockchain up in the form of a distributed ledger is an option for instance with Microsoft Blockchain as a service, as this solution is specialised in smart contracts.
The payments example
Payments are not really a business case in Europe, as payments are generally well organised and relatively cheap since the introduction of SEPA and the additional instant payments solutions that are imminent. However, there are options for wallet solutions depending on marketing and e-commerce solutions that may prove to be interesting and that will forego the banks and credit cards companies. If we look further into the future, it may be that payments will not be a process in itself, but that the transactions includes the payment, making the payment a handling process in the background of the blockchain. This type of blockchain we see as private.
The insurance example
The insurance example works about the same way as the examples mentioned above, or rather a combination. This is about buying an item and insuring it, where all the details and values are known. The blockchain can be private. However. When we talk about the liability insurances, the matter may be more complex and a public blockchain may be in order, especially when monthly instalments are put in place.
The finance and mortgages example
When buying or selling a house, not only ownership transfers, but usually the transaction is being financed with a mortgage. The financing part can be put in a smart contract, and lots of banks are already looking at a proof of concept. Monthly instalments to pay back the mortgage, can theoretically be made part of salaries, together with all other monthly commitments that people have, as part of a new ecosystem in settlement of payments due and payments receivable. The ecosystem could be part public and part private.
The supply chain example
In the supply chain the options with new technologies are endless. Apart from all the solutions mentioned before, it is possible to eliminate the endless forms and double book keeping. Logistics will become a lot easier. Apps and software will control stock and the production process, and farming will become a more consistent process. The circular economy will take effect, and waste will be reduced to a minimum.
The automotive example
When we look at automotive, blockchain and other new technology, we see that ownership of a car can be registered on the blockchain. Design can be done made to order with the help of software in a mass production process. Spare parts can be printed with the help of 3D printers, bespoke at every dealer or garage, without having to be shipped from a far away country, impacting the freight forwarding industry. The electric car impacts the petrol industry, leading to the question what the business model of petrol stations and their suppliers such as Shell will be. A petrol station these days not only sells petrol, but is part of a retail company, making it part of the e-commerce chain. Ownership of cars and lease companies are looking into new business models, because sharing transport is the idea of the not too distant future. Taxes and payments are settled real-time without the middlemen. At the front end, apps are being used as user interface.
Working together towards new business models and solutions
When a business or an industry is facing these challenges, the question is how to move forward. The change is big and has a lot of impact. We could say that we are looking at transforming the business, or transforming the industry, where working together to get the maximum advantage is paramount. To organise and to manage the processes, a new vision, mission and strategy is needed, funded by extended knowledge of new technology and specialisms of the relevant departments, in an international worldwide environment. There are no limits in terms of borders or partnerships.
Dit artikel is een gastblog van Yvette de Koste van T5 HCD