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Building on blockchain: Should you look in-house or outsource?

(Image credit: Image Credit: Zapp2Photo / Shutterstock)

A Juniper Research report recently affirmed that 57 per cent of large corporations are either actively considering, or are in the process of, deploying blockchain technology. In fact, 90 per cent of major North American and European banks are exploring blockchain solutions. The problem is 94 per cent of Fortune 500 executives with plans to implement blockchain technology also reported that they’re going to have problems locating the talent needed to make their plans a reality.  

The skills gap is prominent in the world of blockchain. Companies around the world end up vying for the same talent. While this means blockchain developers have their pick of jobs, businesses are looking at other ways to secure blockchain candidates.

A World Economic Forum report predicts that by 2027, 10 per cent of the global GDP will be stored on a blockchain. As more and more organisations begin testing and piloting blockchain technology, a significant talent shortage has been created. TechCrunch reported that for every qualified blockchain developer that exists, there are 14 open jobs. And while both boot camps and university courses are trying to close that skills gap, it will likely remain for years to come.

Fortunately, organisations are overcoming the challenge of securing blockchain talent, and they are doing so by upskilling or training their current employees. Other viable options gaining popularity are outsourcing, using a combination of both upskilling and outsourcing, and using blockchain-as-a-service.

Each of these options has their benefits. Most importantly, each of these options allow companies to continue innovating in the world of blockchain, instead of halting IT production due to lack of talent. Here’s a look at how these tactics can help fill the blockchain talent gap, depending on the project and company needs.

Upskilling and in-house training

Building a team to develop and implement blockchain projects requires a diverse range of skills that a limited number of professionals currently possess. From software development and engineering to security expertise and regulatory awareness, finding talent that encompasses even just a few of these skills is extremely challenging for both HR departments and IT managers eager to make use of blockchain technology.

For this reason, organisations that already have a development team are in a good position to avoid having to compete for outside talent. Depending on the project, it may be possible to provide existing development teams with the resources to cultivate their own blockchain skills in-house.

Blockchain is primarily known as the technology behind cryptocurrencies; however, professionals with knowledge of data science, algorithms, and cryptography are well-positioned to understand and develop blockchain-related skills and help organisations get projects off the ground.

Companies interested in helping their workforces develop these skills are mostly using training programs and development bootcamps to grow their talent in-house. Coding schools say they’re receiving a lot of demand from employers signing up their teams for blockchain programming courses that can be completed in a few weeks. There are now blockchain-based boot camps around the world, developed to help meet this skills demand. Many businesses opt to pick up the expense, which can be quite high, for employees that want to train and return back to the company to take on blockchain projects.

Outsourcing and blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS)

New blockchain development services are constantly emerging as a practical solution for organisations that need to go beyond their in-house capabilities. Collaborating with a knowledgeable external team that already has a few years of blockchain development experience under their belt has its benefits. For instance, leveraging outside teams can help companies in fast-moving sectors stay ahead of their competitors. Working with an outsourced team can also help companies avoid costly hiring mistakes.

In addition to the traditional outsourcing model, many organisations are turning to another viable option: blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS). Similar to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, BaaS allows companies to leverage cloud-based solutions to build and host their own blockchain apps, smart contracts, and functions on the blockchain while the service provider charges a fee to manage and maintain the cloud-based blockchain infrastructure. Typically, support activities such as hosting, bandwidth management, and security features are all taken care of by the BaaS provider so that organisations can focus on the actual functionality of their product.

Over the past few years, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Amazon have all launched their own blockchain cloud hosting services. The success of BaaS providers may be what finally leads to the mass adoption of blockchain technology across a variety of industries. Instead of developing their own blockchain products or services in-house, organisations of all sizes will have options to outsource nearly all of the complex technical aspects of their projects both efficiently and cost-effectively.

A blended approach

A blended approach, or opting to outsource while also building up the skill sets of internal teams, may be the best route for organisations that wish to integrate blockchain technology into their strategies or offerings long-term. Unless it’s a one-off project, providing opportunities for internal teams and external expertise to collaborate can help get internal teams up to speed on the inner workings of blockchain technology much faster. Employees will have the opportunity to observe and learn new techniques, tools, and processes used by the outsourced teams and then be able to apply those learnings to future projects, adding tremendous value to your team with a much-sought skill.

Large companies still task their HR department with seeking out blockchain talent, but these other options help ensure output continues. Businesses that want to be quick to market cannot always wait for trained blockchain talent. Instead, due to market competitiveness, companies must find other ways to stay on track. Upskilling, outsourcing, and blockchain-as-a-service offer just that.

As blockchain use cases continue to emerge in nearly every industry, organisations will continue seeking ways to take advantage of the value created by the game-changing technology. Fortunately, from upskilling and in-house training to outsourcing and BaaS, there are now plenty of ways to deploy blockchain projects without making a risky hiring decision or turning to the extremely limited and costly open job market.   

Nacho De Marco, CEO, BairesDev (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Zapp2Photo / Shutterstock

Nacho De Marco is the CEO of BairesDev, a technology services company that specializes in software development, software outsourcing, testing and staff augmentation solutions.