At the August 2018 PMIQ Chapter event, Matt Shearing from Blocksense shared his insights on the development in blockchain technology and how this is relevant for us as project managers. If you are not familiar with the concept of Blockchain Technology, you perhaps would know its first application: Cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology, however, has far wider applications and can additionally be relevant for our projects.
Blockchain was developed by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, who was concerned with the lack of transparency within our financial system. Shortly after the financial crisis Nakamoto launched the Bitcoin, a monetary system that was governed by math and with a limit of supply - the Blockchain. A Blockchain is essentially a public ledger in which each transaction is recorded. The transaction is publicly viewable and everything recorded on the ledger remains permanently.
Using Blockchain in contracts and transactions has many advantages. When Blockchain is used in setting up a contract, the contract is formalized in a digital form, a code. Once the rules for the contract are set, the contract can be automatically executed when agreement is reached. The contract also becomes publicly viewable. Smart contracts create an open environment where both parties can feel confident they are contracting on an equal footing, furthermore, a middle man would no longer be necessary.
Though Blockchain has many exciting new possibilities and has already been adopted by large companies such as Walmart in the United States and recently the Combank and the Worldbank, Matt Shearing was a little reluctant about the use of this Technology in our projects. Blockchain can create trust between parties and allows for automated transations, however, using a distributed database, that can be viewed by all parties of an agreement, could have the same effect as a public Blockchain. In some cases you might therefore not necessarily need to use Blockchain Technology to achieve the same result.
If you are curious about the possible advantage Blockchain Technology in projects, there are many online resources to further educate yourself: You can download Matt Shearing's presentation or watch his video presentation (login required); Matt also has a regular podcast on the topic called the FOMO show and writes regular updates on his blog.