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Will blockchain take your job?



A post by Jeroen Bronkhorst, Account Chief Technologist in HPEA post by Jeroen Bronkhorst, Account Chief Technologist in HPE“Hi honey, I home!” he shouted up the stairs. “Hello darling”, she responded surprised. “What are you doing home so early?”, “Well, the bank has replaced me by some blockchain technology and my asset tracking skills are no longer required…”

Does this scenario sound familiar? Hopefully not! Nevertheless there are signs that this issue is beginning to garner attention. A recent article on blockchain jobs impact included a rough estimation that 30–60% of jobs could be rendered redundant by the simple fact that people are able to share data securely with a common record.

Still, very little quantitative research has been conducted on the impact of blockchain technology on jobs. To fill this gap and to better understand the impact of blockchain on a wide variety of future jobs in a wide range of industries, the Blockchain Research Institute launched a year-long academic study into the matter. If everything proceeds as planned, the final results of this study are expected no sooner than January 2018.


Why is blockchain expected to have such a significant impact on jobs? To address this question, we’ll first take a closer look at some of the blockchain basics.

Blockchain basics

First of all Wikipedia defines blockchain as an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically.

And the techies typically use the following definition:

“a cryptographically secure system of messaging and recording in a shared database”.

Alternatively – and even more basic – here’s how Alex and Don Tapscott explains it:

"It basically enables a global spreadsheet — an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value and importance to humankind: birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, deeds and titles of ownership, educational degrees, financial accounts, medical procedures, insurance claims, votes, transactions between smart objects, and anything else that can be expressed in code."


The potential of blockchain

This brings up the question: What is the potential impact of blockchain?

As Iansiti and Lakhani (2017) indicate in the HBR article “the truth about blockchain”:

"With blockchain, we can imagine a world in which contracts are embedded in digital code and stored in transparent, shared databases, where they are protected from deletion, tampering, and revision.

In this world every agreement, every process, every task, and every payment would have a digital record and signature that could be identified, validated, stored, and shared. Intermediaries like lawyers, brokers, and bankers might no longer be necessary. Individuals, organizations, machines, and algorithms would freely transact and interact with one another with little friction.

This is the immense potential of blockchain."

Will blockchain reach its potential?

Finally, the $1M question: how much of this imaginary world will actually be realized? Well, the jury has not reached a conclusion yet.

So far, real-world implementations of blockchain are few and far between, and skeptics are bringing up various reasons to be cautious, such as:

  1. Blockchain is a solution looking for a problem
  2. End-Users don’t really want to use blockchain
  3. Blockchain will increase transaction costs
  4. Unlikelihood of sufficient adoption
  5. Blockchain is too complicated
  6. Performance issues
  7. Blockchain ledgers’ immutability isn’t always a good thing
  8. Blockchcain is a trojan horse to undermine the global financial system

On the other hand there are many articles on the Internet emphasizing the potential benefits of blockchain, such as Santander indicating that blockchain can save banks $20B per year or Finextra suggesting that blockchain could slash investment banks’ cost by 30%.

Whether they are right or wrong, the blockchain related investments are increasing, as evidenced in the last nine months of 2016 showing the same investment ($1.4B) as from 2012 – 2015 combined.

Demand for blockchain experts far exceeds supply

Bringing it back to blockchain related jobs, the above also implies that many new jobs have been created. This is further substantiated by the fact that the number of job vacancies on LinkedIn for blockchain-related positions has more than trebled in the past year. Experts say demand for blockchain expertise is far outstripping supply, making it one of the hottest areas for technology recruitment.

And the best blockchain engineers can command a salary above $250,000.

Will blockchain take your job?

Jeroen Bronkhorst
Account Chief Technologist, HPE

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Mike Shaw
Director Strategic Marketing

linkedin.gifMike Shaw

About the Author


Mike has been with HPE for 30 years. Half of that time was in research and development, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, strategic marketing. .

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