Deloitte brings clarity to the blockchain revolution

26 Jun 2018

Kreeban Govender, manager of risk advisory at Deloitte South Africa, at the recent blockchain Community of Practice event in Dublin. Image: Jason Clarke Photography

The blockchain revolution is unfolding at a rapid pace and Deloitte’s Dublin EMEA lab is bringing together all of the building blocks.

There isn’t a day that passes without something new or incredible being created with blockchain.

And, despite the cryptocurrency craze often rightly or wrongly associated with it, ensuring tangible business applications for blockchain is the next major battlefield for the ledger technology.

‘Deloitte takes much pride in being technology-agnostic in the blockchain space and we want our people to be like that and look at the blockchain technology landscape but also other technologies’

The real promise of blockchain is clarity, transparency and traceability. At a recent Community of Practice event in Dublin, global consultancy Deloitte brought some of its leading authorities together to work out the potential of blockchain and to pool knowledge.

Blockchain technology, which underpins emerging digital, virtual or cryptocurrencies, consists of blocks that hold timestamped batches of recent valid transactions, which form a chain, with each block reinforcing those preceding it. This creates an indelible, accountable narrative that could empower businesses and consumers in the decades to come.

Dublin is in the eye of the blockchain storm

In Dublin, Deloitte has established an EMEA Blockchain Lab that will advise clients on the technology’s application.

A competition was held among the leading Deloitte practitioners in terms of project proposals. The winning proposition was fittingly an idea by Dublin’s Joe McManus to build a platform for traceability of Irish beef to support customer confidence and customer experience (using augmented reality to show full history of any beef product by scanning a QR code) and enhance the quality message for the global export market.

Speaking to some of the practitioners, it is clear that we have barely scratched the surface on what is coming from blockchain.

“Working in the blockchain lab is a fantastic place to be,” said Anthony Day, chief operating officer of the EMEA Blockchain Lab in Dublin. “It’s diverse … a global domain, it’s a lot of different industries. I’ve never worked harder … but collaborating with guys in consulting, tax, development teams we have, big clients, consortia, public sector, private sector – it’s a fascinating space to work.”

Antonio Senatore, chief technology officer of the EMEA Blockchain Lab in Dublin, said that the blockchain space is very large now and the technology landscape is fairly diverse.

“So, keeping an open mind about new technologies, new trends, is very important to us. Deloitte takes much pride in being technology-agnostic in the blockchain space and we want our people to be like that and look at the blockchain technology landscape but also other technologies.

“Blockchain is not a technology on its own, it can play with other technologies,” said Senatore.

Athina Stantzos, a consultant working on global trade advisory at Deloitte Belgium, added: “It has a lot of stakeholders; it is something you need to know if you can trust your counterpart, your buyer, your seller, so we are really focusing on those types of companies.”

Crucially, the global opportunity in terms of how economies around the world can gain competitive advantage by employing the technology needs to be explored.

Kreeban Govender, manager of risk advisory at Deloitte South Africa, explained: “One of the challenges is ensuring that, especially a country like South Africa sitting in a continent like Africa, that we are actually on par with what our colleagues in EMEA regions are doing.

“I think that events of this nature help because it stops us from reinventing the wheel. It allows us to understand where we’ve succeeded and where we’ve failed, and it allows us to position that with our clients in different industries that need our help.”

Also at the event in Dublin was Chris Brodersen, Blockchain EMEA Lab lead for Deloitte USA.

“What we’ve seen is blockchain start in financial services four or five years ago; now we’ve seen it explode across all sorts of industries.

“We have the intersection of not only financial services but healthcare, products, telecoms and even government. Our government services team is doing a lot of work in blockchain.”

His colleague, Lauren Feld, analyst with Deloitte USA, elaborated: “We work with clients to help them understand what is blockchain, what can they use it for; and identify the right use cases and narrowing in on a use case that makes sense for their business.

“And then, helping them actually think through what does a solution look like for their enterprise and how do we actually build it and deploy it?”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years