Blockchain technologies have immense potential to revolutionize a plethora of industries, but a lack of in-house capabilities is one of the greatest barriers to wider adoption. The good news is that these gaps can be filled through a wide array of training channels available, as well as talent acquisition options to develop an organization’s blockchain competencies.
One option to build blockchain skills within your organization is through training. Covering technical, business, social, and legal aspects of blockchain-based solutions, these combine the latest in research with real-world applications. With training being able to address all or a selection of these areas, we recommend two options – in-house training, and online courses.
In-house training, courses that are tailored for a specific organization, comes in many forms. It can be taught by a blockchain expert who works for your company, or by an external training provider. Traditionally, in-house training is taught in physical classrooms – but thanks to the adoption of modern communication technology, more and more sessions are now held online. A big advantage of in-house training is that it can be customized to your company’s business needs and learning objectives.
Online courses have been steadily rising in popularity in recent years. Easily accessible and often available at a lower price than traditional courses, people can fit these self-paced courses around existing commitments and responsibilities. A disadvantage is that they are made for large audiences and are therefore less specific for a company’s particular needs. Nonetheless, these can be an ideal introduction to the world of blockchain.
On most established online course providers, you’d be able to find courses that give an introduction to blockchain topics – like the beginner-friendly Udemy course The Basics of Blockchain by Bettina Warburg. For the tech-savvy, there are even courses for building production-ready blockchain applications, such as Ethereum and Solidity by Stephan Grinder.
Traditional universities also provide online courses, mostly targeted at executives and C-level audiences. Here are a few examples:
Certified Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Technology Manager – Frankfurt School of Finance & Management
Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme – University of Oxford
Blockchain Technologies: Business Innovation and Application – MIT
Many blockchain platforms and technologies, such as Ethereum or Corda, offer extensive tutorials and documentation on their websites. Some even offer a certification exam.
2. Reading and audio resources
Reading and audio resources allow you to dive into the blockchain world completely on your own. There are books, articles, and podcasts for different levels of knowledge – suitable for complete beginners all the way to technical experts. From all available learning options, reading and audio resources arguably offer the most in-depth information.
Books, one of the most traditional ways to gain knowledge, offer a great way to learn about one of the most innovative technologies out there. For non-technical people, Blockchain Bubble or Revolution by Neel Mehta, Aditya Agashe and Parth Detroja, and Blockchain Basics by Daniel Drescher provide a great introduction.
Mastering Ethereum written by Andreas M. Antonopoulos and Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum, is a highly recommended read for techies. The book is a fantastic guide – from the basics, to teaching state-of-the-art smart contract programming practices.
Blockchain technologies are still evolving rapidly, and with that, the associated knowledge. New online articles are continually being published in line with these developments – meaning that you’re able to remain up to date with the industry’s goings-on and breakthroughs.
Medium, an online publication platform, has become a go-to place to learn about blockchain – from business-focused articles on decentralized finance (DeFi), to essays on underlying cryptographic mechanisms. HackerNoon and CoinMonks are two popular blockchain blogs hosted on Medium to explore various articles on the topic.
Whitepapers are documents written by the organization that offers the technology. Acting as a marketing document to promote and explain a technology, these typically present a problem, the solution, and its practical applications. The Bitcoin and Ethereum whitepapers are classics. Although extremely informative, whitepapers aren’t recommended for total beginners – you’d need some basic knowledge at minimum.
Podcasts are another popular medium to acquire blockchain knowledge. Most feature interviews with experts, and delves deep into various topics with the people who are building the decentralized internet. Just bear in mind that a certain level of prior knowledge is essential to follow these discussions.
From a wide selection of blockchain-focused podcasts, we’ve narrowed down a couple that we think you’ll enjoy:
Unchained Podcast – great for people with intermediate blockchain knowledge
epicenter.tv – recommended for blockchain pros to keep up to date with recent developments
3. Talent acquisition
Another way to develop in-house blockchain capabilities is to hire for relevant expertise. However, attracting quality blockchain talents to your business can prove a daunting task due to an exponentially growing demand.
Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are increasingly being explored by startups and major organizations around the world. The number of bitcoin, blockchain and crypto-related employment ads on the popular job board Indeed.com had ballooned by a whopping 1457% between September 2015 and September 2019, according to a “Seen by Indeed” study.
To attract quality talent, you must offer something they don’t currently have where they are. A-players have an innate desire to collaborate with brilliant minds and tinker on challenging projects. So, present them with the exciting challenges your company has to offer and encourage them to get to know the like-minded, bright, and knowledgeable people they will work with.
One of the quickest ways an organization can also build out its talent base is by acquiring a blockchain startup. In what is also known as an acquihire, the buying organization gets a well-practiced team, proven in building and delivering blockchain applications.
However, the risk of an acquihire is the lack of cultural assimilation between the organizations. As a result, they underperform or leave to start their next venture. When considering an acquihire, figure out early on which opportunities you could offer those entrepreneurial thinkers that they can’t easily find elsewhere. Try to continually stimulate their desire to create rather than interrupting them with a barrage of meetings.
Joël Sonderegger is the Founder & Managing Director at Voa Labs. He helps his team strategize, design, and engineer products that enable businesses to transform their ideas into digital solutions, while energetically steering all aspects of Voa Labs’ operations.
Previously, Joël was a VP of Product Management at Sygnum, the world's first digital asset bank. Prior to that, he worked at Zühlke and IBM, where he gained his passion for agile, high-tech environments in which creativity and collaborations are proactively encouraged.
Joël holds a Master of Business Innovation from the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).