Today’s post is courtesy of our board member, Mark Wales.

I recently attended a monthly industry group meeting with representatives from a variety of companies with a presence in the Pacific Northwest, where I live. These monthly gatherings, attended by folks from Costco, Starbucks, Amazon, REI, Nike, T-Mobile and other local companies, provides us with a chance to share insights about workforce management with a cross-functional perspective, hear from experts in the field about the technologies and processes transforming workforce management today, as well as what’s next on the horizon.

At this month’s meeting, Kurt Wedgwood, IBM’s North America Blockchain Leader for Retail, Consumer Products, Airlines, Hotels, Restaurants, Rail, Freight, and Wholesalers gave a fascinating presentation on how the theory of blockchain design is being used to transform a variety of established industry processes and relationships.

While the idea of blockchain – a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography – is not new (the earliest well-known example is from 2008 where it was used as a core component of the digital currency bitcoin), the application of this technology to a variety of business disciplines is growing. Blockchain creates a trusted “ledger” where transactions are recorded securely and can then be used by all parties, be it businesses, suppliers, shippers, insurers etc. What this does is to eliminate non-value activities, which is an idea that can clearly add value in a variety of circumstances.

What excited me most about Blockchain is how it might relate to strategies and practices for our workforces. Those of us in the workforce management space have been talking and thinking about the growing complexity of work-life for managers and employees, and how AI (Artificial Intelligence), IA (Intelligence Augmented), and even the IOT (Internet of Things) will likely not so much replace jobs, but instead better equip our managers and employees to execute their responsibilities and deliver the right experience to our customers. Blockchain has the potential to remove non-value-added steps from our processes, creating simpler and faster ways to track products, shipments, and transactions allowing valuable payroll dollars to be invested in customer-facing activities that would allow our companies to retain and grow their customer bases.

Perhaps even more impactful: Imagine if blockchain was applied to our personal work lives? What could that look like? It could start in areas such as resumés and work history, eliminating a lot of non-value-add activities around applying for jobs, verifying positions, certifications and experience.

Could it develop into a ledger for time and attendance where both employer and employee would have visibility into time worked eliminating disputes and fostering an open and transparent relationship? Could it lead to a way for companies and part-time workers to manage their schedules across multiple organizations creating a better quality of work-life for the employee and generating higher engagement for the employer?

How else might blockchain transform workforce management?

It’s early days, but blockchain is most definitely an area of innovation and disruption to watch in 2018 and beyond.

Is your organization using blockchain for human capital management? Do you see opportunities where you think you could? Tell me about it in the comments section!

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