Blockchain Lab Rundown

Reflections on the first HG-Network offline event

Posted by Scott Speights    on June 25, 2018 in Dev tagged with Culture, Culture, Development, Development

Blockchain Lab - First offline event

On 14 May, The Haufe Group Network had its first offline event, Blockchain Lab, to explore possibilities of using distributed ledger technologies (Blockchain technology) for Haufe Group products. All in all, seven product teams, including Haufe umantis, Haufe Zeugnis Manager, Haufe Discovery and Haufe Akademie, and the HRS team from CED, came forward with ideas for how they could use Blockchain to improve their products.

Many of the teams manage products that are complementary to each other, which was important because Blockchain technology solutions are most effective when they address large-scale problems – for example, for an entire business network or industry.

This was one of the ideas behind having this Blockchain Lab: to bring as many Haufe Group business network players together as possible. Blockchain Lab was divided into two parts - open talks and the Blockchain workshop.

Defining Blockchain in our open talks

The day began with three talks from our event facilitators from Codecentric. Jannik Hüls, Alexander Sachs and Jonas Verhölen delivered three short talks that focused on what Blockchain is, how it is used for business, and how to use Hyperledger software platform to create your own private Blockchain. The talks provided a definition and base understanding for Blockchain and when to use it.

The video recordings of these talks (in German) are on the HaufeDev YouTube channel.

Blockchain – What is it to us?

For the purpose of developing ideas for the Blockchain, we decided to break down the definition of Blockchain into three major parts –

All of these concepts can be implemented via Blockchain technology but also, separately, in other ways. To be able to “call it a Blockchain”, all three of these concepts must be combined. And so the big questions we put to the product teams were: “How can your product be better”- which they supplied to us with our product idea - and “Do you need to develop your product with a Blockchain or is there another, better way?”. So what is “Blockchain technology” exactly?

A lot of good definitions are already out there! If you would like to know more, a good high-level explanation of what is Blockchain, is here.

And, a good four-part series of articles that explains how Blockchain works and what makes it a notable technology, begins here.

To Blockchain or not to Blockchain…

After lunch, Blockchain Lab then moved on to the second phase of the event – the Blockchain workshop. In this phase of the day, the teams with similar use cases were grouped with the three facilitators from Codecentric to see how their product and new product feature ideas could match to Blockchain.

The Blockchain groups came together and spent the next hours developing their ideas. Most of the teams were quickly able to figure out – that their products did not require a Blockchain solution for product features like audit trails for who edited letters of reference, or digital rights management for ISO standards, and so, they focused on finding not-Blockchain solutions that better fit their needs.

Completing the chain event

At workshop end, the teams pitched their results - presenting the new features or new products they wanted to develop, and if they had decided to use Blockchain as a solution for their product. And, in fact, at the end of the workshop – there was only one idea left standing where it potentially made sense to use Blockchain as a solution, which was umantis’ idea to create a product that stores all educational and work-skill certifications with blockchain technology.

In retrospect, Blockchain Lab may not have spawned the next 50,000,000.00 EUR idea. But, we learned a lot about what we can and cannot do with Blockchain technology, where it might fit to our products, and also, how to improve these workshops to keep pushing innovation in a way that engages our colleagues and that builds up the network organization here at Haufe Group. Also important, is that people showed a new willingness to share their ideas, and to exchange information to explore opportunities for product innovation at Haufe Group.

Looking forward to the next event to build on the successes we had at Blockchain Lab.

To see what’s happening with Blockchain at Haufe Group, you can check out the Blockchain segment of our tech radar.