Posted by: Ornella Farrugia
on Mon 26 Feb

At February’s Innovation Day, we welcomed Dr. Philip Godsiff, Senior Research Fellow at University of Surrey Business School. According to Dr. Godsiff, blockchain has the capacity to provide robustness, integrity, innovation and flexibility.

There is a lot of hype surrounding blockchain and equal parts excitement and consternation around the bitcoin bubble. But blockchain is not scary or magic. It is a simply a single-entry ledger, whose entries are consistent, sequential and secured cryptographically; this information is then shared between the members of the network.

When we discuss blockchain, we should actually be talking about blockchains. Nowadays, the most famous would be Bitcoin, a blockchain used to enable bitcoin payments in a peer-to-peer setting, or Ethereum, focused on running code for any decentralised application, but beyond these commercial variations we can talk about different types of blockchain. For example, Bitcoin is a “permissionless” public ledger, which means anyone can use it. Furthermore, we can also find permissioned public and permissioned private ledgers which, in contrary to blockchains like Bitcoin, don’t need the incentive of cryptocurrencies to ensure their smooth running. However, in every case, care must be taken in choosing who can alter and who can read the chain.

So, what should we do about blockchains?

Be sure to use blockchain appropriately: it is useful when two or more organisations need a shared view of reality and there is a lack of trust in the system. A transparent, unalterable ledger of all transactions can build this trust. Blockchain can provide great value but you need to be sure that the problems blockchain is designed to overcome are pressing enough to use it.

Add transparency to your supply chain: since the ledger can be accessible to all but not altered by anyone, blockchain becomes a powerful tool for creating transparency.

Protect your data: recent increases in security breaches compromising private user data has highlighted the problems in using a third-party company to protect this data. A decentralised personal data management system can ensure that users control their own data.

Keep an eye on the future: blockchain is coming and you need to be ready for it. Now might not be the time to engage in expensive R&D on blockchain but maintaining a watching brief will ensure you do not miss the moment to act on this new technology.

These are just some key highlights taken from February’s Innovation Day. Each month, clients of the Innovation Programmes receive a full ACT report, capturing the guest expert’s research, the implications and next steps for leaders to apply back in their team and organisation.

Next month, clients will explore the concept of organisational justice and the perception of fairness in the working environment. For more information, please view the Innovation Day page.

Sources: Godsiff, P. (2018) ‘Blockchain, bitcoin, bubble or the “trust machine”?’, KnowledgeBrief Innovation Day Presentation, 14 February.

Blockchain is coming and you need to be ready for it.

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