The business landscape in 2018 is in a state of flux. Disruption is the name of the game today, and, organisations unwilling or unable to shake off the inertia to keep pace with the technology development curve is falling behind.
Blockchain is one technology that has been making waves since its inception. In simple terms, Blockchain is a digital ledger that facilitates transactions without the interference of a middleman. Thus, it is a democratic technology owing to its ability to allow anyone to carry out a digital exchange. Once associated with the Bitcoin industry, this technology is currently in the process of breaking into the mainstream, and disrupting multiple industries and impacting business decisions, particularly with regard to employee training.
Technology in L&OD
The key concern of L&OD practitioners is in responding to the changes in business needs, improving access to learning, providing information to employees at the time of need, and, facilitating newer ways to promote continuous learning. In order to achieve these goals, L&OD practitioners should develop tools that enable easy and flexible access to content that can promote reflection as well as motivate employees to share their knowledge with others.
A recent research report by CIPD on the future of technology in learning indicates that nearly 20% of learning & development budgets today are dedicated to technology enablement. Nearly 26% of all employee training is today aided by technology, either during the training design cycle or training delivery. Such state of affairs suggests how technology is already playing a key role in the learning and development space.
A 2018 survey by Statista highlights the increase in the number of technologies used by the L&D function over the years. This is a testimony towards the importance of technology to facilitate learning and training delivery becoming more pronounced to organisations in recent years.
Transforming Learning & Development
Blockchain is anticipated to impact nearly every industry. In fact, according to reports by Netscribes and Garter, the market for Blockchain is expected to grow by 40-45% on average YoY through 2022, valued at almost $14 billion. Garter predicts IT cos to spend about $3.7 trillion in 2018 with AI, IOT and Blockchain being the crucial drivers. The size of the Blockchain market is discussed in yet another report from Statista, which analyses the blockchain technology market from 2016 to 2021. According to the report, the blockchain market is expected to grow to 2.3 billion US dollars by 2021.
How Blockchain can help
As every organisation is aware, incentivisation is a key challenge in employee training. It is very difficult to get employees out of their comfort zone to learn new skills. By providing a financial incentive, especially one that serves the interest of a tech savvy generation, organisations will find it easier to attract employees to training workshops and get them to train not only during work hours, but in their free hours as well. However, many organisations find it hard to implement an effective rewards strategy as it can mean high overhead costs and lack of real world value to employees.
It is true that there are innumerable third-party solutions available today that can help an organisation manage their rewards programme. Most of them involve point systems where employees are given points for each achievement which can then be used to redeem gifts or service from corporate affiliates. The inherent flaw in this system is that the value of these points and the record of achievements are restricted to a small environment and are thus rendered useless in the outside world.
Using Blockchain, organisations can make the reward points and achievements valuable in the real world and enhance employee performance. In a decentralised blockchain world, achievements and rewards will not be trapped within a central location which will enable employees to make use of them without any restriction. For instance, organisations can issue tokens to employees in training who master a new, emerging field that can be spent on digital transactions. Enterprises can also harness forthcoming ICOs to reward employees who have outshined their peers in learning new and complicated skills. This will facilitate a learning culture where each and every employee will push the limits of their capabilities to learn new skills.
Know when to Update and Upskill
Employers can also use Blockchain to track the qualifications and certifications achieved by their employees. This will be more efficient than a paper- based system or having to digitize each employee’s stats. Blocks are created for each employee which is tamper proof, and visible to both the employee and employer. Blockchain also does not present the risk of missing out on document translation as the details in the blockchain would be multilingual. As they have access to the employees’ records, they can make certain that the learner’s qualifications are validated.
Blockchain would also enable employers to check whether the qualification of an employee expires. In such instances, the employer can implement an automatic process which examines the qualifications of all employees consistently. In case the qualification expires, the particular employee could be directly registered for a course to get that necessary qualification again. Moreover, the employer will also get automatically notified about the issue.
These are some ways in which organisations can leverage Blockchain in their learning space. However, going by the rate at which Blockchain is evolving, it is certain that its scope will widen beyond this.
Last year, IBM’s Institute for Business Value studied 2,965 executives to analyse the enterprise potential of blockchain. One key takeaway of this study was that early Blockchain adopters for L&D are gaining muscle memory and experiences that cannot be copied by organisations that are adopting a wait-and-see approach. The first L&D platforms developed using Blockchain may shape the tone for evolution of the technology for decades to come.
The report highlights how the once efficient way of playing safe with regard to anything novel might prove detrimental for enterprises in this case. On the contrary, those who adopt Blockchain technology must also suit up to face certain risks. What might tip the scales in this regard is when we consider that any delay in investigating and investing in Blockchain can set back any organisation by years, bringing to the forefront the need for organisations to pedal faster on their Blockchain discovery now or struggle to keep pace up with it later.
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