This may be a big claim, but blockchain is rapidly becoming the most important digital development since the cloud. In its inception, it was used to log the value of and transactions which used cryptocurrency. Since then, it has changed the way we think about storing, accessing and utilising complex sets of data.
In the tech sector, companies like Sparkster are using blockchain to allow clients — with or without a background in coding — to build complex apps and then run them from the cloud. With blockchain as the backbone of this process, thousands of businesses can run millions of apps without a hitch, and without their own servers. Shipping giant DHL uses blockchain tracking to ensure pharmaceuticals move through the supply chain transparently. Each unit of medicine receives a unique tracking code, and as all the units move through the chain from production to delivery, they are tracked. Each new stage generates a verified, unchangeable record, so all involved can see that the life-saving drugs are reaching the patients that need them most. And food behemoths like Dole and Nestle use blockchain to improve food safety. Blockchain records that trusted suppliers, retailers, food regulation bodies and even customers can access allow tainted food products to be identified quickly, and it allows the businesses to discover the source of the problem easily. That means any safety issues can be dealt with immediately, improving public safety.
The usefulness of blockchain means businesses across sectors are increasingly searching for freelance blockchain developers. Freelancing website Upwork recently released its quarterly index of the hottest new job skills, and it was unequivocal in its assessment of the growth of blockchain development:
Its growth exceeded 2,000% for three quarters in a row on Upwork.com, and in Q1 it experienced more than 6,000% year-over-year growth, making it the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 skills on the site.
Why has blockchain become so exciting and even necessary?
Essentially, blockchain is allowing developers and creative thinkers of all stripes to go back to the digital drawing board. Instead of simply popping patches onto old issues, digital creatives are creating solutions that solve the root problems themselves.
This problem-solving approach at the most basic level does several things. It allows for innovative approaches to problems. It makes a real-world impact on traditional business and digital processes. It improves businesses’ efficiency, and it radically changes the status quo.
One way blockchain can do this by opening up application building to anyone who can drag an option and drop it in place. Today, drag-and-drop coding software, which uses blockchain as its cloud storage network, allows anyone to create custom digital solutions that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. That means people from all walks of life, with their different perspectives, ideas and approaches to problem-solving, can create digital solutions that those with a technological background might never even think to consider. These new apps will be, by their very nature, disruptive.
Take finance, for example. Traditional banks don’t lend out money easily. They need tried-and-tested business models to make them confident that any loans they give out will be repaid. This can be problematic for tech innovators, who are finding ingenious new solutions to problems people don’t even realise they have. On the other hand, many tech investors are so desperate to find a ‘unicorn’ that they will throw money at any seemingly viable business, demanding quick, scalable growth, often without considering whether or not that is best for the business long-term.
But if a bank utilised blockchain and crowdfunding, the model could look quite different. This model could see a bank getting money through crowdfunding, rather than through loan repayments and investor capital. The bank could record its loans and investments using blockchain ledgers, creating unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability. The profits would then be returned to the crowdfunders, who could also see where every single one of their pennies is being spent and returned. They in turn could hold bankers to account instantly.
Investors and borrowers move closer together and can use blockchain to ensure payments are being made and money is going where it’s supposed to.
Blockchain started out as a sophisticated way to ensure no one could cheat the cryptocurrency system by simply copying and pasting their way to a fortune. Today, it has become one of the most promising ways to store and access data across sectors. Its flexibility means it can help businesses of all kinds figure out new uses for all the data they generate. It means they can find holes in their processes and supply chains that they never thought to look for. And it means that with the help of some other businesses’ blockchain storage networks, they can create world-shaking solutions.
And considering any business that uses the internet is already generating more data than it can handle, it’s easy to see that very soon every business will want and need a blockchain expert on hand. And that’s going to revolutionise future careers.