As blockchain continues to gain adoption across both business sectors and consumer markets, more and more businesses are looking for ways to leverage the technology to create value. In previous interactions with clients in the banking industry, the conversation tends to center around exploring possible blockchain integration into one of their business lines, such as trading banking or insurance. So when a large Canadian bank approached us with the vision to build an employee recognition program that uses a blockchain’s decentralized ledger to manage and administer their internal point system, we were excited at the possibilities.
Their vision was simple but ambitious — build a micro-economy among employees where they reward one another for performing tasks that benefit the entire organization. By leveraging a blockchain ledger, they hope to expose their most valuable asset, their employees, to a new and emerging technology. But rather than doing it through traditional lunch and learns or long reports, they decided to embed it into the DNA of their business — their employee recognition program. If successful, the hope is to getting buy-in company-wide to expand the use of blockchain across the organization will be a foregone conclusion.
The one main obstacles that stood in the way was lack of in-house talent. While blockchain has certainly gained traction, the process of acquiring the type of knowledge necessary to even begin such a project is costly and more importantly time-consuming.
To avoid having to launch into a long hiring process and battle the many delays and pitfalls that would be sure to come along the way, August was approached to fill the technical knowledge gap and lead the project.
For the project, we were handed designs and provided Blockchain Development services and consulting services. The latter consisted on structured training sessions with the client’s internal team.
Advantages of an Employee Recognition on the Blockchain
There were four important blockchain features we wanted to leverage to build an employee recognition platform and the Open Application Network delivered on all four:
Immutability: Smart contracts stored on the blockchain are permanent and cannot be changed. In the case of employee recognition, immutability gives both employees and management the peace of mind that the data hasn’t been corrupted by a disgruntled supervisor or clumsy admin.
Transparency: All transactions that occur are visible to all parties at all times. By keeping all transactions public for the whole company to see, accountability and best practices are built. Managers will be required to award points fairly for similar actions and employees can check it’s the case. It ensures impartiality and keeps everyone honest.
Incentivized Behavior: All blockchains offer some sort of mechanism that incentivizes users to perform certain actions to help secure and use the network. By leveraging smart contracts, specific company KPI can be programmed into a script and loaded into the blockchain. This will trigger an action (e.g. transaction) whenever certain conditions are fulfilled (e.g. sales target met). can be A core tenet of both blockchain and employee recognition is incentivized behaviour
Asset Creation: Every blockchain has a native Asset (or token) that created and exchanged on the network. This is typically what caries value. The ability to create a digital asset allows employers to potentially take their recognition systems fully in-house with full control over the value, supply and use of the asset.
Developing User Personas is an Important Early Step
One of the guiding principles we follow when building new products is the use of user personas. The personas allow us to properly understand the expectations, strengths and weaknesses of potential users. This directly influences almost every aspect of the design and development decisions we make.
Validate the Idea With a Proof Of Concept
With a clear understanding of the user, we set off to build the initial MVP which would serve as the foundation of the employee recognition platform. The final deliverable was comprised of 4 core components.
- Mobile App: A mobile application that functions as a wallet, allowing users to send, receive and query their balance
- Block Explorer: A transaction viewing application that allows users to view detailed activity across the blockchain network
- Digital Asset: A programable digital asset with a smart contract that is executed when certain predefined parameters are met
- Administrative Dashboard: A custom admin portal with the ability to mint new coins, track activity and manage the program
The mobile app functions as a wallet and enables employees to send and receive digital tokens (points) to one another. The app also keeps a history of transactions that allow the user to search and filter their past transactions. Receiving a digital asset is as easy as sharing a QR code or your account’s public address.
The Block Explorer is a tool that allows users to investigate the history of transactions and balances of all on-chain accounts on a blockchain network. An IT manager could utilize the Dashboard to collect various metrics about activity across the network and could use that data to report on trends and other findings that may help improve the overall program and employee engagement.
One of the key pieces of a blockchain-based application is the digital asset, often referred to as a “token” or “cryptocurrency”. Digital assets can be tokens that are identical to each other or unique digital collectibles. Examples of digital assets on the blockchain can be anything from reward points, and event tickets, to a recognition badge or even a unique armor for your favorite video game character. For the employee recognition platform, the admin will have the ability to create their own unique digital assets with the properties that help them to meet their program goals.
The Administrative Portal the program administrator to monitor the program metrics without all the technical bloat that exists in the block explorer. The portal is custom built to make it easier for anyone to manage the recognition program. The portal provides data like the most active participants or the size of the largest daily transactions. You can also actively monitor the progress of the program by tracking in real-time how employees are reacting to various incentives and adjust them as needed. You can also mint new coins in the portal, which enables admins to create or increase the number of tokens, badge, or even new token types.
Looking to What Comes Next?
With the POC completed, we will focus and leveraging smart contracts to incentivize employees to perform certain actions by rewarding them with the native currency. Building this out will mean mapping out all the various actions and KPIs the organization hopes to encourage employees to strive towards. Once mapped, our team will turn them into user stories and use those to begin working on the next phase of the project.
Like many, it’s unclear what the future of blockchain and decentralized applications looks like, but if we are certain of one thing, it’s that it has a future and we’re excited to be involved in building it.