Blockchain is the new kid on the Irish Technology block.

BlockchainIn its simplest form, Blockchain is a shared database system which allows users in a peer-to-peer network to verify and store records. It represents a new way to access and trust data communicated over the internet.

Why Blockchain?

A recent study by NUI Galway investigates the organisational factors that influenced Irish companies in their decisions to adopt blockchain.

Lead author of the study, Dr Trevor Clohessy, explains:

“Instead of keeping data centralised in a traditional ledger, these new digital systems use independent computers, often referred to as ‘nodes’, to record, synchronise and share individual transactions in their respective electronic ledgers.

“Blockchain is a digital ledger which allows for the brokering of trust on a decentralised peer-to-peer network. Blockchain transactions can include the exchange of data such as personal identification records, and assets such as tokens and digital currency.”

Patterns

The study, led by Dr Clohessy and Dr Thomas Acton from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway , identified some patterns:

  • Top management support and organisational readiness are enablers for blockchain;
  • Large companies are more likely to adopt blockchain than small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Readiness

The research explains these findings by examining the nature of blockchain and the characteristics of Ireland as a developed technological country. Organisational readiness will require the availability of:

  • Employees with the requisite blockchain IT knowledge and skills
  • Financial resources within the IT budget for adopting blockchain
  • Infrastructure on which blockchain applications can be built

A versatile beast

“We are excited to present the results of a seminal piece of research that we have conducted on blockchain organisational readiness here in Ireland,” Dr Clohessy said.

“Blockchain is often portrayed as a black box technology which is mostly associated with cryptocurrencies and financial institutions.

“However, our research indicates that blockchain is a much more versatile beast that provides adopters with advantages such as anonymity, immutability (transactions that are permanent and cannot be altered), transparency, security and fast transactions.

“We expect blockchain will significantly transform the traditional business operations of organisations across a multitude of industries such as health, food, financial and Government sectors in Ireland over the next five years.

“However, we have also identified a number of barriers which organisations will have to overcome, such as:

  • the need for them to view blockchain as a separate entity to cryptocurrencies,
  • a lack of technology workers who possess the requisite blockchain skills and competencies,
  • a lack of university level blockchain courses encompassing a number of core competencies identified in the study.”

Addressing the gap in blockchain courses

The J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics is currently exploring various possibilities to address the gap in the lack of university level blockchain courses:

  • The School is creating executive blockchain workshops;
  • Dr Clohessy has introduced blockchain as a topic for students within the modules for MSc Business Analytics and MSc Information Systems Management.