Article: ‘Blockchain can ‘revolutionize’ HR, both for companies and workers’

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‘Blockchain can ‘revolutionize’ HR, both for companies and workers’

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The technology underpinning the cryptocurrency can help make significant strides in productivity, cybersecurity and data privacy, says Chris Havrilla, VP of HR Technology and Solution Provider Research at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
‘Blockchain can ‘revolutionize’ HR, both for companies and workers’

The technology called “blockchain" is reigning as one of the top next-gen technologies which can change the way we do business. Companies are increasingly realizing its importance and exploring new use cases to exploit the tech for competitive advantage. Companies like Microsoft, IBM, Accenture, and Facebook have already made huge investments in technology. However, this is just the beginning. 

With new use cases emerging, among other things, we have to adjust our skills to focus on the areas that machines can’t do. We must become data fluent as we become the teachers and managers of this technology.

To find more about the technology and how it can bring value for companies and workers, we have an interaction with Chris Havrilla, Vice President of HR Technology and Solution Provider Research at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting.

Can Blockchain technology revolutionize our way of doing business? Companies like Microsoft and IBM have made huge investments in the technology. Is it translating in terms of real innovations?

The possibilities are there. There are several potential use cases for blockchain to revolutionize HR, both for companies and workers–but these are still just emerging. It is important for companies and workers not to ignore blockchain’s possibilities, as the very nature of the technology will force disruption versus evolution or bring the incremental change that we have seen with other emerging technologies over the years. Blockchain has the potential to streamline processes dramatically as well as address and impact security. It will, by nature, force how we work and how work is done to change – it won’t be a choice whether you want to change or not.

Is HR 'ready' for Blockchain tech? Is it more about the advantages for payroll and validation of degrees? Do we already have some mass solutions and successful implementations?

The function is certainly necessary, but HR professionals need to move past the dislike and distrust of technology (and systems being the work). Today’s leaders need to realize they are evolving into data and technology workers/teachers and focus on relationships, including actions alongside outcomes that blockchain cannot provide. In order for leaders to do this, they have to have data fluency (see our High Impact People Analytics report) and knowledge of what technology can do to get systems to start working for them.

It is not just about payroll or validation of degrees. The chain of transactions and records that can be “ledgered” is dizzying. Focusing on where we have the most pain, complications, and inefficiencies that this technology can impact is where the potential for success and momentum will come. As we try to address both sides of the employment relationship (providing and verifying information), payroll, taxes, benefits, skills, learning, etc. – we can potentially make strides in productivity, cybersecurity, data privacy, and protection. Actual mass solutions in HR will come when companies start using blockchain technology to solve for some of these issues. However, implementations are few and far between as there are only a few early adopter stories starting to emerge.

History suggests it will be the smaller entrepreneurs that will signal new leading practice, enabled by Blockchain technologies. How are startups around the world trying to solve market inefficiencies by leveraging the benefits that Blockchain technology provides?

In general, it is easier for smaller companies to be more nimble and agile. Smaller companies can utilize new technology for use cases that can help them level the competitive playing field – from products or services to talent. Larger companies with more resources – people and money – are also learning to use approaches like design-thinking to create solutions that focus on a distinct problem or outcome, using prototyping to develop proofs of concepts. They are still thinking big, but learning to start small when piloting solutions, gaining momentum with small wins, building trust and reducing the risks of innovating larger companies to avoid – and more easily enabling the business case for wider scale transformation and better agility. 

What about the skillsets? How are they going to change in the wake of Blockchain as a disruptor? Do we have the ecosystem of new age skill development ready?

Like any new technologies that can replace transactional work or do things more effectively than humans, we have to adjust our skills to focus on the things the machines can’t do. We must become data fluent as we become the teachers and managers of this technology. As work and jobs go away with technology disruptions, much more will emerge. The more people can refocus themselves on perpetual learning, and employing their soft skills such as emotional intelligence, relationships, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving management, the more valuable, impactful and marketable they’ll become. I believe we are much further along in the infrastructure of the ecosystem for new-age skill development than we are in adopting, utilizing, trusting and employing it.

Where do you see Blockchain as an enabler for HR five years down the line?

Certainly including, but not limited to recruitment, onboarding, payroll, contracts, compliance, and auditing. Blockchain technology will also be a game changer for cybersecurity, data protection, and privacy.

How and where to begin? Your suggestions for HR leaders.

HR leaders need to isolate focused problems and use approaches like design thinking (EDIPT – Empathy/Define/Ideate/Prototype/Test) to build out proof of concepts as a way to make change simple, clear, real, happen and stick. Companies need to seek help from their internal innovation teams, vendors and/or third-party service providers to help co-create solutions.

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Topics: Technology, #TechHR 2019

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