Blockchain in Action

How the Federal Government Can Maximize Benefits

Author: Aleksandar Zelenovic, Strategy and Consulting Lead, Sapient Consulting | Public Sector

Work has begun. What was once a new idea in only the commercial sector is now moving into the public sphere. The Federal government is slowly and steadily starting to embrace “blockchain.” An emerging technology, blockchain could affect organizations throughout the public sector in many positive ways. But first, what is it?

Blockchain is a digital distributed ledger. But, more importantly, blockchain is not an application or a database or a background architectural piece. It is a foundational technology that works well when it is put in place to connect other pieces of a puzzle within your system; it can create an ecosystem that accelerates information sharing and leverages automation for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Here are a few starting reasons why you’ll want to make the most of it:

·         Enable flexibility

·         Reduce transactional friction

·         Gain process efficiencies

·         Cut down manual work

·         Increase data security

·         Enable smarter decisions  

Sapient Consulting | Public Sector supported the first blockchain solutions within the Federal government. Based on our experience, there are a number of valuable lessons learned to help simplify an organization’s first steps forward to allow maximization of key blockchain benefits.

8 Tips to Keep in Mind as You Begin with Blockchain

1) First, and foremost, implementing blockchain is about the business. Look at your business problem. Focus on use cases where there is an actual need to improve the business process. This will help you better understand blockchain’s capabilities and deliver its power. Blockchain will open new ways to look at your business processes to enhance them.

2) User experience must be at the center and that begins with a simple and intuitive interface designed with ease-of-use at the forefront. Ensure the right UI/UX design is in place to support what process or business changes blockchain can bring. Users don’t care what is running under the hood – they want to see and understand clearly new possibilities that are now open to them. This will help the adoption.

3) Blockchain is a foundation. Think of blockchain as a fundamental building block or data-layer platform that sews together many disparate components to support the use cases you’re focusing on.

4) Ensure flexibility and scalability by starting small and starting smart. Don’t put everything on blockchain in step zero. You can expand scope and capabilities as your organization becomes more familiar with its use and value.

5) Use microservices architecture. When integrating the components of your IT ecosystem, your IT architecture should be designed so all blockchain capabilities are developed as microservices. This ensures all capabilities are interconnected while enabling flexibility and the ability to evolve the technology stack with minimal disruption.

6) Keep it simple and open. Blockchain data architecture is inherently open source and can bridge many different standards, systems and users. As your organization begins to use it, be sure you maintain this blockchain characteristic to ensure flexibility instead of using complex or proprietary data sets that may minimize its effectiveness or drive future costs.

7) Account for Culture Change.  Blockchain solutions are best build using incremental development and basic principles of Agility. The solution will enable users to adjust their business processes, think outside of box and bring new ideas to the table. You will need to account for strong collaboration and making users the central part of your process.

8) Focus on enabling future technology, which is the true source of business value. You can program rules, smart contracts and logic into the ecosystem that drive a layer of AI onto your blockchain platform. This will provide the ultimate benefit of automated, real-time value by continuously adding ML to your ecosystem. Together, this further speeds processes and improves decision-making throughout your use cases.

…And Start with an Agile/DevOps Approach

As Federal government organizations begin creating their blockchain ecosystem, we also recommend that implementation be delivered in logical pieces using an Agile/DevOps approach in combination with rapid prototyping/visualization and continuous integration and deployments. This will not only allow you to quickly and efficiently demonstrate value, but it will also help create stability in your tech environment and provide control over speed, costs and scope.

The arrival of blockchain should be an exciting leap forward for Federal agencies and organizations. It has proven so in the pilot programs. Following these important guidelines will help make blockchain use and acceptance an easier and more enjoyable experience for all.