Nathan Sykes talks to TJ about the B word. No not that one – the other one.
It’s become increasingly clear that blockchain technology offers incredible potential outside of its normal cryptocurrency connections. In fact, some would argue the technology is more powerful when used for other means.
Take blockchain in the supply chain, for example. It has the potential to increase transparency, boost operational efficiency and offer unprecedented levels of monitoring and control. Foodborne illness could be stopped almost entirely by monitoring how goods and foods are handled along the average chain.
The technology has implications elsewhere, however. Some organisations are starting to explore its use in employee training and education, for instance. To that end, it’s poised to transform and disrupt training regimens everywhere.
What is the blockchain?
At its simplest, blockchain is a digital ledger that holds and secures all information related to transactions carried out in its purview. The technology was originally founded to support cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin. Because of its nature, however, it can also be used to store and transfer various forms of data.
Blockchain will transform the state of employee training and education
What makes the technology so appealing is the combination of transparency and security it offers. Usually, those two traits don’t mesh well together — transparency is often seen as the complete opposite of privacy and security. However, transactions that are carried out on the blockchain are stored in an incredibly protected and secure way.
Every chunk of data stored in the blockchain is reserved in something called a block. Each block directly connects to the previous transactions or data entries before it, as well as after it, which creates a chain — hence the name blockchain.
You cannot alter a single block in the chain without altering every other entry, which is spread across various locations similar to a peer-to-peer network. Only authorised parties can change information during a transaction, and only certain information remains visible, which is where the transparency comes into play.
Of course, the next question is what this has to do with the training and education of personnel.
Blockchain for employee training
Often, the initial training and education of personnel is necessary and takes place throughout the course of a career. Everyone realises the need to understand and prepare for a new job or opportunity, and so just about every career in existence has some form of onboarding process.
How this process carries out differs from organisation to organisation. Worse yet, those training programs also differ in terms of effectiveness and quality. With that kind of structure in place, how can you ensure employees are trained effectively? More importantly, how can you encourage them to continue their training beyond what’s initially offered?
One answer is to encourage employees to go outside the company’s initial programmes to further their education and training. This also ensures they receive quality training instead of some half-baked, ineffective company regimen delivered through video presentations and interactive computer learning solutions.
And yet, another problem is created from doing this, however. There’s sadly almost no incentive for employees to continue their training on their own, and no way for employers to truly know when their team members complete further training.
That can and will change with the help of blockchain. Knowledge.io, for example, is one provider planning to leverage blockchain technology to help reward employees for learning new skills. Each time an employee branches out and learns a new subject, task or completes a curriculum, that information can be made visible in the blockchain as a sort of transaction.
Another use of the technology is to pay for that training outright, through the use of crypto tokens or coins. You may have to pay for the courses yourself initially, but learning a new field or responsibility could earn you valuable tokens, which can be used in future transactions. This also incentivises employees to improve their skills and knowledge.
It’s hard to imagine platforms such as this having a direct impact on business performance, at least until you consider the importance of training and education. When it comes to quality assurance, for example, both in product development and customer service, proper recruitment and training are instrumental to success.
These kinds of encouraging training systems could also have an impact on upper management and executive teams, as well. Imagine the positive nature of further education and training that could be fostered through such a thing.
Finally, every employee or professional involved with such a system can be given a knowledge or skill score. That can then be used to assess their ability to complete a task, go above and beyond, or fit in with other peers. It provides yet another form of data for interviewing and hiring new candidates, and it’s a much more efficient analysis of an individual’s skills than a conventional resume.
Is blockchain really so disruptive?
A lot of the scenarios and applications discussed are hypothetical in nature, outside of the Knowledge.io mention. Currently, there are no platforms in place that actively encourage and foster this continuous improvement culture. Looking at the potential applications, however, it’s easy to see how powerful the platform will be, in many aspects.
Blockchain will transform the state of employee training and education, just as it has and will transform industries such as finances, retail, manufacturing and the supply chain.
About the author
Nathan Sykes enjoys writing about the latest in business technology. To read his latest articles, check out his blog, Finding an Outlet.