What is blockchain and how could it boost your business?

04 May 2018 -

Blockchain Insights reveals how blockchain technology could transform everything from recruitment to productivity for managers

Jermaine Haughton

What is blockchain? The buzzword in technology has become synonymous with the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies in the past 18 months. Now, experts predict it has the potential to speed up many of our daily management tasks.

In its simplest terms, blockchain is an online database with records that are managed and maintained by the wider digital community, rather than a single central authority such as the Bank of England or the UK Government.

A generic comparison would be a car dealership’s sales spreadsheet, which is copied thousands of times across thousands of different computers. This network is automated to then to regularly update this spreadsheet with the latest sales, with previous entries still intact.

The replication of these blocks of information across the network means no one organisation or person has the control to alter the information held, and there is no single point of failure which threatens to destroy the records, such as a power failure or system error.

As a secure recording system, blockchain protects the financial value of cryptocurrencies, but its simultaneous automation is also useful for managers. For example, blockchain could replace slow and labour-intensive data collection and third-party verification processes.

WATCH VIDEO: How does blockchain work?

Blockchain could boost productivity

Managers of small and medium-sized businesses can benefit heavily from the use of blockchain to reduce the time, costs and mistakes caused by data-heavy administration work. Individuals would then have more time and resources available to focus on leading their teams and meeting key business objectives.

Blockchain potentially enables the burden of tasks such as staff payroll, KPIs and VAT administration to be lifted from the desks of already overworked managers. CMI research showed that the average boss puts in more than 7.5 hours more than their contracted time, per week.

Read more: The always-on culture leads to managers working an extra 44 days per year

The removal of third-party involvement in these processes means managers would be able to complete these admin duties with the need for reconciliation, receipt or purchase orders.

A PwC study found that the use of blockchain to lower back-office overheads could create annual savings of $10bn (£7.27bn) for UK plc.

Blockchain could maintain and sharing legal documents instantly

Typically, legal documents are passed to and from each party via email, and there is a risk of individuals losing track of versions, or not being up-to-date.

However, the shared ledger aspect of the Blockchain technology could mean that legal contracts can be securely shared and updated with chosen parties immediately. Furthermore, users can create ‘smart contracts’ that can automatically generate based on when certain variables are achieved without any human legal intervention. For example, a payment can be automatically sent to a company or individual when a clause in the contract meets a certain benchmark, as verified by the network.

Blockchain validates recruitment

Blockchain could revolutionise talent recruitment and management. Firstly, the technology allows job-seekers to provide contemporaneous records of their education, skills and work experience on an easily accessible and maintained platform. It provides immutable proof of providence and information cannot be deleted or altered without the other parties knowing about it. Secondly, this gives employers a gateway to quickly access and review candidate’s credentials and use analytics to match their skills more appropriately with specific jobs in their organisation.

Blockchain audits the supply chain

Blockchain’s ability to time stamp the date and location of records and transactions enables managers to review and prove the quality of their supply chain.

Research shows employees and consumers increasingly value ethical and sustainability policies in their chosen organisations and understand that businesses have a major role to play in giving back to their communities. The use of distributed ledgers allows them to track exactly where, when and by whom a product was bought or made, ranging from precious metals to cocoa beans.

Inspired by technology’s influence on productivity? Read: How adopting the cloud can boost your productivity

Image: Shutterstock

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