When we think of the term “digital literacy,” our first inclination is to think of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers grappling with the nuances of twenty-first century technology — much to the consternation of their younger and more tech-savvy colleagues. It might surprise you, however, to learn that the origins of digital literacy actually date back to the early 1930s, when the term “media literacy” was used to denote individuals who struggled to understand war propaganda in the lead up to World War II. It may seem counterintuitive, but the ability to understand technical aspects of society isn’t solely restricted to the age of the internet — it’s a skill that evolves with each new paradigm that permeates our daily lives. As new innovations arise, and the age of the internet inevitably changes, we will encounter yet another kind of digital literacy — one surrounding a new technology that will provide security, immutability, and efficiency to the modern workplace: blockchain.
You might be wondering (and rightfully so): How can our dependence on the internet possibly change when it’s become such a fundamental practice? Admittedly, over the past few years, it’s been difficult to discuss the modern workplace without first mentioning digitalization. Decentralized office spaces have fast become the status quo, while face-to-face interactions have faded into the background. The cloud has far outpaced onsite servers, while mobile phones have largely replaced their desktop counterparts. Unfortunately, as companies continue to prioritize convenience over security, they’ve inadvertently opened themselves up to an array of scalability problems that hinder progress. In searching for a solution, these same companies will need to consider new technological breakthroughs — such as blockchain technology — to ensure longevity in an increasingly global commercial market. Below, we’d like to discuss a few of the many ways that blockchain literacy might ease this transition. With a thorough understanding of this technology’s diverse capabilities, we believe employees will be far more equipped to step confidently into this new reality.
If you ask any corporate executive what their top priority for 2019 is, chances are they will tell you it’s cybersecurity. According to the ISACA 2018 Cybersecurity Culture Report, 95 percent of global survey respondents stated that a gap exists between their actual and their desired cybersecurity policies. What’s more, only 34 percent of executives believe that their employees have a solid understanding of their company’s security system. For even the most tech-savvy individuals, cybersecurity protocols can be difficult to understand and, as a result, may be unable to act effectively in the event of a crisis. As data breaches become more impactful and less detectable, the need to account for exploitable vulnerabilities is fast becoming an essential prerequisite for success. Your employees can’t act on your cybersecurity protocol if they don’t understand it to begin with.
Using blockchain, companies can more easily secure their data without placing unnecessary pressure on their employees to be intrinsic experts in the cybersecurity space. This is because blockchain platforms run on a decentralized network that’s not owned or operated by a single entity, but rather by a community that tracks and records every interaction between parties on the platform. If a hacker, for example, wanted to tamper with company files, not only would they have to break into one server, but they would have to break into them all. For many, the prospect of educating employees on cybersecurity policy has proven to be a difficult and daunting process. However, by taking advantage of blockchain’s ironclad infrastructure, companies can more easily create a wide-reaching security policy that allows employees to seamlessly identify and control red flags.
For years, digitalization has ushered in a new wave of global business practice for companies operating in every industry or practice area. It’s never been easier, for example, for a company in Singapore to ship goods across the world to New York City. Some of this can be attributed to better technology and faster transportation times — there are now direct flights from Singapore to Newark, for example. However, much of the reason that global business practices have been able to operate on such a grand scale is the emergence of third-party vendors that manufacture, process and deliver products simultaneously. It’s certainly a groundbreaking concept: Why build, then ship, a product from point A to point D when you can manufacture it on the way to its ultimate destination. It’s certainly efficient in concept; however, this high-pressure business practice places far too much pressure on employees to manage the expanding scale of a given project, leading to confusion, frustration, and uncertainty in the workplace. And if contracts are missed or deadlines aren’t met, errors along the supply chain can lead to frozen assets that negatively impact the purchaser’s bottom line.
Blockchain systems, by contrast, provide a network by which asset transfers can occur instantaneously — alleviating the pressure placed on employees to digitally process each transaction. Using smart contracts, which are digitally enforced agreements made between two parties on the blockchain, vendors can send and receive funds without needing to wait excessively for banks to facilitate each transaction. As companies work to remain ahead of the curve, hiring employees who understand these developments will almost certainly be an invaluable resource for those faced with an increasingly competitive market. And if you can’t hire someone, train them.
Information literacy has taken on many forms. From decoding war propaganda in the 1930s to mastering the art of the internet in the late 1990s, there has always been (and will always be) a learning curve when a new cutting-edge technology comes on the scene. Sooner rather than later, we will likely see another iteration of this cycle arise. As companies continue to grapple with centralized vulnerabilities and scalability problems, many will turn their attention to decentralized alternatives in an effort to provide security and transparency to long-term business practice. By educating ourselves about the potential benefits of blockchain, we can lay the groundwork for what is sure to be the workplace of the future.