The recent hype around Bitcoin, has had investors of all walks of life taking second mortgages on their homes to cash in on the next “Dot Com” wave. The hope is to strike it rich with the pioneering decentralized electronic currency shaking up the world of finance. So, what is the big deal with Bitcoin? And what does this mean for professional services organizations?
What is Bitcoin?
The Bitcoin concept emerged in the late 1990s with limited success by a small group of crypto-currency mavericks that were ahead of their time employing blockchain technology. It wasn’t until 2008, Bitcoin, as we know it today, was invented by a mysterious group of people or some believe to be a single individual under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. As with most disruptive technologies, timing is everything. Hence the birth of the decentralized electronic currency came to life following the financials crisis of 2008 where confidence in the financial industry was at its all-time low. Similar to the distrust in the banking industry following the Crash of 1929, in which many from that generation had their savings stashed in their mattresses, the Bitcoin phenomenon has provided a similar vehicle empowering consumers to control the management of their funds. Leveraging blockchain technology, Bitcoin delivers a peer-to-peer management of the electronic currency outside the bounds of traditional government and regulatory bodies. There is no requirement to have a gold reserve and/or government to back up the currency’s value. In its simplest terms, blockchain technologies allows all those contributing and exchanging within the network administer a public ledger of checks and balances, resulting in a very complex ecosystem which inherently is dependent on each other. Consequently, re-distributing access and security across thousands of servers (as opposed to a single server holding the keys to the vault) has intrigued many investors and industries in exploring this new technological paradigm.
The Impact on PSOs
For professional services organizations, the rise of a Bitcoin economy could demand a more collaborative approach where vendors, suppliers, consumers and even competitors will have a more transparent exchange of data and insight to the shared ecosystem. Blockchain technology is all about the ecosystem its serves, leveling the playing field and re-distributing power and accountability to those who interact within it. As a result, professional services organizations will be required to “Up” their efficiencies to remain competitive. Think of the impact globalization has had on the services industry and now throw in a decentralized transparent economy which is driven by limited regulatory and compliance barriers. Moreover, if the Cloud has enabled global collaboration, then blockchain can enable global accountability. In the end, services organizations will need to look at the solutions they employ to streamline their processes in delivering the most efficient end-to-end services and products to their customers while maintaining operational efficiencies the Bitcoin economy will demand. In response, Professional Services Automation (PSA) solutions will need to deliver both tactical and strategic capabilities that deliver the necessary insight to thrive in this new economy.
About the Author
Neil Stolovitsky has over 16 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in business development, software selection, and channel strategies. He has published numerous white papers and articles covering Professional Services Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for service industries, Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Senior Solution Consultant with Upland Software.