Blockchain-related skills were highly sought-after through the first half of 2018 and should continue to attract interest from employers as the use cases of blockchain technology keep expanding. A survey from Upwork, "Future Workforce Report" for 2018, found knowledge of blockchain in second place on a list of hottest IT skills, behind only robotics.
Growth in demand for blockchain skills surged 6000 percent year-over-year, faster than any of the more than 5,000 competencies tracked by Upwork. It's now in a similar position to the one occupied by cloud computing throughout the 2000s – i.e., as the presumptive next big thing in IT.
For many IT professionals, blockchain training may be a logical progression in their career trajectories, especially if they perform regular consulting and freelance work. IBM has identified a shortage of qualified personnel as a major obstacle to mainstream adoption of blockchain tech. The following skills and concepts, in particular, need more attention from today's developers, designers and project managers:
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has begun work on a set of standards for blockchain and similar distributed ledger technologies. The ISO/TC 307 working group was overseeing the development of 8 ISO standards as of May 2018. Its efforts are focused on interoperability, governance, security, privacy and smart contracts. Anyone interested in blockchain can contact ISO/TC 307 to help or view its publicly available resources.
The Linux Foundation began Hyperledger in late 2015 to support the collaborative development of blockchain technologies. More than 240 organizations have already contributed, and it is open to both organizations and individual developers. Some of the blockchains already hosted by Hyperledger include Burrow – a blockchain client designed for the Ethereum Virtual Machine – and Indy, a distributed ledger offering reusable technologies for crafting digital identities. Paramount Software Solutions has joined the Hyperledger project - an open source collaborative effort with Linux Foundation this year in its effort to translate concepts into PoCs and production deployments.
"One of blockchain's biggest perceived benefits is its security."
One of blockchain's biggest perceived benefits is its security. This perception stems from its immutability – making any changes to an individual block on a blockchain is mathematically impractical since it would require making changes to all other blocks as well (every block contains the full hash of its predecessor). However, more tools and processes are necessary to protect blockchains. IT professionals should understand current cybersecurity practices (including patch management and IT solutions planning) and also be knowledgeable of the differences between permissionless (anyone can join) and permissioned (access is contingent on meeting specific criteria) blockchains.
There are numerous blockchains out there, but many aren't compatible with each other. The situation is analogous to other fragmented domains such as electronic health records (aka EHR/EMR) solutions, in which it's difficult to share information between siloed databases. Hyperledger has already collaborated with firms including IBM and Microsoft as part of the Decentralized Identity Foundation to create standardized identity systems. More work is necessary to ensure a smooth flow of information between different blockchains.
Cloud computing infrastructure is likely to become an important component of many blockchains in the coming years. The earliest blockchains were not designed with scale in mind, which is why cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have so far failed to match the number of transactions possible through traditional card payment networks. With the vast pooled computing resources of the cloud, newer Blockchain-as-a-Service offerings from cloud service providers could unlock fresh use cases for organizations of all kinds.
Paramount Software Solutions can give you the blockchain, staffing, and infrastructure expertise to revitalize your IT skills. Learn more about our blockchain offerings and other services by contacting our team today.