Blog Post

Blockchain Will Transform HR, Bringing the "Internet of Careers" to Life

Ike Bennion

Director of Product Marketing, Innovation and Strategy

Blockchain for HR is no longer a pipedream—it’s a promising technology filled with potential to improve recruiting, hiring, learning and many other areas of people’s experience at work. And today, we’re celebrating a major milestone as our industry continues to work towards actualizing that potential.

Back in January, Cornerstone announced the formation of an HR and education technology industry coalition under the umbrella of the Velocity Network, an open source, vendor-neutral platform governed by the Velocity Network Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to make blockchain more attainable and its value more clear. Now, together with other HR technology and education software providers, we’re excited to share that we’ve successfully integrated our technology with the blockchain-based Velocity Network and are already innovating with diverse use cases that apply blockchain in groundbreaking ways.

Together, the Velocity Network is propelling the "blockchain for HR" category into a new phase of real-world application and global industry buy-in to the technology’s business transformation potential.

How does this new phase take shape? Picture this:

Building on Cornerstone’s Leadership in Blockchain for HR

On an unremarkable day in October two applicants completed the first blockchain submitted job applications through Cornerstone’s ATS. These applicants, albeit fictional, Maria and Adam, had collected their relevant blockchain credentials issued to them over their careers, opened up their blockchain wallet on their smartphones, scanned a QR code on the job description, tapped "Accept" and submitted machine and human readable credentials. Their potential new employer then opened their ATS and there they were: contact info, job history, education history, credentials. Best of all, this data was already validated from authoritative sources so our fictional recruiter could vet their qualifications and hire immediately (just in time for the seasonal rush).

This process was designed to be breathtakingly simple but has powerful ramifications. Just like any business decision, recruiting is about gathering clear data as quickly as possible and rapidly making decisions with long-lasting impacts. For decision-making in the rest of the business, like finance or operations, you can more easily gather data about projected return on capital or machine throughput, but workforces are more complicated to gather data from. That is, until now.

The promise of blockchain is an unlocked data-rich ecosystem where users can accumulate data about themselves over their lifetime, portraying their unique value. For employers, they can cut through unclear or missing data with validated data which frankly hasn’t been accessible before to inform strategic workforce decisions.

If you go to any HR conference you’ll see AI everywhere, and are probably thinking, "Wasn’t AI supposed to deliver on the promise of clearer decision making?" Yes, but AI must feed on a clean, rich, wide data set to deliver on this promise. The problem is companies large and small, global and local have struggled to structure and house data in a way that powers effective predictive, prescriptive and analytical insights. Blockchain is the high-octane fuel for better performance of artificial intelligence and machine learning systems.

The timing couldn’t be better as we face momentous questions: How do we transition our workforce in the face of intense and perpetual disruption? How do we find talent to help us fuel growth and expansion? How do we rapidly redeploy talent in the face of automation? How do we recognize talent in an unbiased, modern way? How do we provide clarity to individuals on where they are where they could go? The foundation of these questions starts with a clearer and deeper understanding of our current state with blockchain so we can build more effective plans to navigate into the future.

Better Data for Better Workforce Outcomes

The first way blockchain will help alleviate these problems is by improving the quality and availability of data we use to evaluate the value of workers. We still rely on, frankly, unreliable information like GPA, titles and even alma maters. With more applicable, job-related data, employers can evaluate candidates on things that are valuable in light of an accrediting or authoritative body, like a certification for leadership, a highly innovative project or ratings on skills.

With machine-readable and human-readable layers of data contained within blockchain, we can reduce the filtering and processing of data that’s required for use by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Recruiting, for instance, relies heavily on natural language processing to transform data in order to surface insights about candidates, but that technology in and of itself is in refinement. With established standards for different values of data through the likes of O*Net, Credential Engine and others, we can ensure the value of a skill is well understood wherever a credential goes. Like a dollar, your skillset should have an understood value wherever you take it.

A Cumulative Transcript for Long Term Skills Development

The second way blockchain will transform the future of work is by creating a development transcript for the employee. The modern learner is taking, for example, an extension class after work, a MOOC online and learning from YouTube. They come to corporate training systems because they have to, which is partially to blame on the fact it takes a long time for a learning system to know enough to effectively adapt to a learner (amongst other things). Blockchain creates a continuous record that is uninterrupted by the nature of today’s fluid workforce so that employees can better leverage all of the development resources at their disposal, especially modern corporate learning systems.

The company knows the most about their employees as it relates to their current jobs. But backgrounds, unique certifications and other dimensions of their capabilities may become important for helping the company adapt to future needs. As automation forces us to more rapidly deconstruct, evaluate and reconstruct roles, visibility into the wider abilities of employees will become more crucial. Blockchain combined with tools like Cornerstone’s Skills Graph can capture and normalize the capabilities individuals bring to the table so they can be quickly surfaced when needed.

An Elevation of the Strategic Role of HR

The third way blockchain will transform the operations of HR is by elevating its strategic position in the company. Even in the age of scaled HR, we’re still doing a lot of checking, double checking, inputting, background checking, modifying and verifying. Plain and simple: blockchain cuts the clerical work. With more meaningfully structured data, a Cornerstone system could ingest data from an SAP system and vice versa in both human and machine-readable layers. AI systems would work more effectively in helping to predict retention risk, identify new skills and help plan succession better than they do today.

In turn, with powerful technology generally becoming more accessible, HR will be in position to manage disruption, plan to meet the growth opportunities for the business and build a competitively skilled workforce in lockstep with the evolving nature of work.

And now, thanks to an unprecedented effort led by Velocity Network to bring Cornerstone and our global industry peers to the blockchain platform, the technology’s real-world applications will play a starring role.

For more information about how Cornerstone is teaming up with industry peers and the Velocity Network to realize the potential of blockchain for talent management and recruiting, click here.

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