Technology was once upon a time needed to make things easier. Well, it did succeed in making things easy but soon became the lifeline that institutions needed for survival. Whether it is evolving from existing technology or coming out as a fresh new innovation, one thing is for sure, every day brings with it a new breakthrough. The last decade has seen the rise of technologies that radically disrupted traditional ways of doing things.
One such technology is blockchain. Since blockchain was developed as a technology for bitcoin cryptocurrency, it has grown to become an important technology for businesses and blockchain training important training for professionals. Blockchain technology brought with it a very unique decentralized system that offers solutions not only to other cryptocurrencies but also other industries including banking and financial services, government, and healthcare.
The main reasons why blockchain has picked up the world’s attention fast is because it takes care of security concerns, it is error-free, simple, fast, and efficient and eliminates middlemen. This greatly reduces the cost of transactions.
The fintech investment arm of the Spanish Bank, Santander Innoventures has already identified more than 20 blockchain applications in its operations which could reduce the bank’s operations costs by up to $20 billion a year by 2021. Elsewhere, the government of Estonia has already implemented this technology by having a single digital ledger, the X-Road, for all its public services. Not just these, organizations are already investing in blockchain technology with the global spend recorded at $2.7 billion by 2019.
Sectors with traditionally long cumbersome processes, high data security risks, multiple parties, and intermediaries’ involvement are the ones to greatly benefit from this innovative technology. Blockchain technology, despite the fact that its full potential is yet to be realized, is a promising solution to the high risk, fraud, transparency issues in transactions, or exchange of information.
Finally, blockchain technology is set to revolutionize the cybersecurity field among others to prevent data-related frauds.
Blockchain, as we have seen, is a decentralized, distributed ledger system used to store records that are continuously being updated in the form of blocks using cryptography. In blockchain, data is stored in a network of servers spread across the globe in such a way that anyone in the network can access the entries in real-time from any location. In essence, no user or authority can claim control of the ledger.
Firstly, in a distributed ledger, information is not copied and transferred, it is shared. The best example is what happens when a Google doc. is created and shared. Any changes by anyone with access to the document are recorded and can be seen almost instantly by the other parties making it not only transparent but a very efficient system.
Records in a blockchain ledgers system form blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a cryptographic signature of the previous block known as a hash in addition to the data it contains. All these together form a Merkle tree.
The role of the hash is to link two blocks. When many blocks are linked, a chain is formed hence the term blockchain. Once a block is updated in the chain, it becomes tamper-proof and immutable. Any slight change in the input creates a new hash output hence changing the hash of the following blocks. This way, all changes, and entries are traceable right to the genesis (first) block.
The following key features stand out and define blockchain technology.
- It is a peer-to-peer network
- It is a decentralized and distributed ledger technology
- Ledgers in a blockchain system are immutable
- Records are transparent and public
- Uses the cryptographic hash function to ensure security
Organizations, including start-ups, tech companies, legacies, and governments are exploring blockchain’s applications in their operations and at the same time sourcing blockchain experts to implement these solutions. There are several career options in the blockchain space including engineering, development, product and design, operations, management, as well as sales and marketing. However, there has been a shortage of skills in the markets which IBM has termed as a significant inhibitor to the adoption of distributed ledger technology.
As a blockchain expert, you stood to earn between $36,000 and $200,000 in a senior position in 2018. Most in-demand skills include technical skills like engineering and development. If you are considering a career in the blockchain industry, this is definitely the right time. It is important to note that much as there is a wide skills gap in the industry, recruiters will not spare their efforts to get the right talent. Therefore, you need to be truly skilled to be considered.
The demand for blockchain skills is there and you have decided to launch your career in blockchain. A certified blockchain expert (CBE) is a professional who has mastered blockchain technology and can develop and implement blockchain solutions or models in the business.
Ideally, a computer science, information technology, information security, or related qualification will set you up onto a good start. Alternatively, a background in software development will be vital particularly if you are pursuing technical skills.
Past the qualification level, you may consider pursuing a certified blockchain expert designation. Certifications will help you to acquire specific skills for the designation you are pursuing.
To be an expert in any field you need to first grasp the fundamentals and this is no different in the blockchain field. Basic knowledge of distributed ledger, consensus, smart contracts, and cryptography is crucial as these form the building blocks of blockchain technology.
Blockchain is deeply rooted in computer science concepts like data structures and peer-to-peer networks. Data structures, referring to a collection of data, its structure, and operations handling the data in blockchain are known as blocks and these are replicated across a network of participating computer systems. It is important to learn how data structures operate and have an understanding of hash maps, Merkle trees and Merkle roots, linked lists, and other concepts.
Knowledge of decentralized applications (dApps), basic design, development, and testing, architecture including the client interface along with smart contracts is critically important at this point. In addition, understanding how various frameworks operate in the development of dApps is important. Common frameworks include Ethereum, Hyperledger, R3 Corda, Ripple, and Quorum.
It is not enough to know about the technical aspects of blockchain technology. To be employable in an organization, it is equally important to be familiar with various enterprise business processes. This way, you will be in a good position to identify business needs and implement blockchain solutions.
In a world where cybersecurity is of great concern to enterprises, possessing security skills within the blockchain space will be a great addition to the skill set of an individual. Knowledge on concepts like the elliptic curve digital signatures, Merkle proofs, private key, and cryptographic hashing among others is important.
In addition to the technical skills you will acquire, building soft skills like creative thinking, critical thinking, analysis, management, collaboration, and negotiation are critical in any business operation.
A certification is proof of your skill and knowledge of the blockchain technology. Consider taking the blockchain certification training course to gain practical knowledge on the application of blockchain solutions to enterprise problems or opportunities.