What blockchain technology is and what your association should know about this trending technology.

Blockchain technology may seem like distant, futuristic technology, but according to Enterprise Technology Trends report, it was one of the 10 key trends impacting IT leaders. Here’s how you can prepare your association for this trending technology.

You may not be one to follow trends for your association. But sometimes it’s important to know what’s on the horizon – especially when it comes to technology – so you can be prepared.

Take blockchain, for example.

The Enterprise Technology Trends report from Salesforce includes blockchain technology as one of 10 key trends impacting enterprise IT leaders. The report found that:

  • 22 percent of IT leaders have identified a blockchain use case.
  • 22 percent of IT leaders are actively working on a blockchain project.
  • 50 percent of IT leaders plan to increase their investment in blockchain over the next two years.

If you don’t fully understand blockchain technology, you’re not alone. While the report found that IT leaders are starting to think about and plan for blockchain, only 17 percent feel strongly that they understand it.

So, what is blockchain?

Blockchain technology is a growing list of records overseen and maintained by a crowd, rather than a single entity. The “blocks” represent a group of transactional records, and a cryptographic “chain” links them together. As records are created, they’re confirmed by a network of computers and paired with the previous entry in the chain, creating a “blockchain.”

The blockchain is housed on a network of computers, which means no one entity has control over its history, and therefore no one person can go back and change things. It’s essentially a public ledger that cannot be easily modified or tampered with. This gives it another level of protection over a traditional centralized database.

Why should associations care about blockchain technology?

If it still seems like a murky idea to you, it might help to think about how your association could use blockchain technology. For example, a recent article from “Associations Now” about associations and blockchain technology cites the following six examples from the report, “Blockchain for Associations: Separating the Hype from the Promise,” in which the technology may gain traction for associations:

  • Credentialing, which has clear and obvious value for associations, according to one of the report’s authors, Shelly Alcorn, CAE, chief operating and curriculum officer of Ubiquity University and principal of Alcorn Management Consulting. She said it helped her realize there was value in the medium for associations. “When I saw the first moves into blockchain coming from the Open Badges initiatives and MIT, my interest was sparked,” she said in an email. In the report, Tim Haynes, founder of the tech research firm Signal & Story, agreed that the value proposition was clear: “Any institution that offers any sort of credential or degree will start moving to blockchain, where verification is a simple, automated process, and all parties have a vested interest in making it so. Everyone wins.”
  • Risk management, which is being built out for the construction field, and the authors say could also easily be applied to events.
  • Persistent identity, which could ease issues for international travelers in proving who they are.
  • Contract compliance, which the authors say could help ensure the creation of contracts without the need of third parties, such as lawyers.
  • Supply chain management, in which the authors say blockchain is already having a direct effect.
  • Proving ownership, which could make complicated financial transactions easier.

How can associations prepare for blockchain?

Blockchain may seem like a distant, futuristic technology. But as the Salesforce “Enterprise Technology Trends” report shows, it’s gaining traction. As with other trending technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain will not wait for associations to catch up.

Your ability to embrace technology innovations like blockchain depends heavily on the association management software (AMS) you use. One of the best ways to prepare for technology innovations is to use software like Nimble AMS that offers continuous delivery, so the product includes and supports the latest and greatest features. Additionally, a framework first approach ensures the software is as adaptable as possible to take advantage of new technology innovations that are surely headed your way.

Curious about trending technology? Learn more about artificial intelligence and what your association needs to know