Four ‘no-code’ skills needed for blockchain projects

There’s a demand for blockchain specialists, but don’t just look for engineers.
16 May 2019

A combination of talent is needed for blockchain projects. Source: Unsplash

“Businesses are learning what blockchain is, what it is not, and what it will be capable of.”

So opens a new report by managed services firm KPMG, which argues that while distributed ledger technology (DLT) is no “panacea”, it’s already being used in enterprise to mitigate recalls and fraud, drive new process efficiencies and reduce costs, and will see continued deployment.

Far from fizzling out as the hype-train draws to a halt, KPMG predicts 2019 will see further exploration of the technology in business, including identifying new business models, conducting pilot projects, and progressing to scalable solutions.

But with blockchain on track to account for some US$2.9 billion in spend this year according to the IDC, reaching a potential peak of US$12.4 billion by 2022, businesses are currently faced with a “severe” lack of talent, says KPMG.

“Somewhat surprisingly, a significant amount of the talent and interest resides on college campuses. Younger generations witnessed the maturity and evolution of bitcoin and blockchain, and as such, are the most comfortable with this technology,” says KPMG in the report.

A senior blockchain engineer might need knowledge in Python, Go, C++, SQL, and JavaScript, but when scouting for suitable recruits to help lead DLT initiatives, businesses don’t necessarily need to jump straight to the developer community.

Because blockchain transcends business silos, it depends on teams with industry expertise and business acumen. Candidates “do not need to be technologists to be considered for a blockchain position,” KPMG said.

In fact, many of the skills essential for deploying— and most importantly, scaling – DLT solutions, can be learned in non-technical roles. Here are the top four blockchain skill sets according to KPMG.

# 1 | Business acumen

The number of user roles, personas, and entities that blockchain touches is more than any other emerging tech before it – from IT to finance to procurement to the mailroom.

Each user from each entity has a unique view and access which requires a deep understanding of specific processes across the business. This varying expertise is crucial when creating and defining a compelling use case and value proposition for a blockchain project.

# 2 | Tech literacy

While it’s important to understand the technical concepts of how blockchain works, it’s most critical to understand how to apply that knowledge to a use case.

Members of a blockchain team should understand the difference between a wide range of technologies (cloud, protocols, consensus mechanisms, ERPs, networks, etc.) and when to use different mechanisms and platforms.

This will help ensure they can understand how DLT interacts within an existing technology ecosystem, and how that ecosystem will impact the design of the blockchain solution. And for those who are planning to work on the development side of blockchain, some knowledge of coding is needed for blockchain development.

# 3 | Data analysis

While most team members do not need to be technologists to work on blockchain projects, the team must include data analysts who can tap into one of blockchain’s greatest benefits – data. Being able to understand and make use of the data gleaned from a blockchain – and present it in a meaningful way to each of the varying user roles – is key to success.

# 4 | Hacker mentality

Given the lack of coursework around blockchain and its relatively new existence in the enterprise, the team must be open and able to explore and experiment by “hacking the problem” from a business and technology perspective.

This means working collaboratively in a workshop-type setting to think through the business objectives, implications and value story for each of the participants and then defining the architecture and overall solution flow. It is this collaborative approach that leads to a successful application of blockchain.

Like any emerging technology, having the right talent is paramount to driving results. Blockchain projects will not succeed or scale without a multifaceted team that goes beyond technologists. We expect more universities to integrate blockchain into future coursework, which will help prepare both end users as well as those who will be responsible for building, deploying and managing blockchain.

Big earners

Given the projected growth of blockchain as business interest in the technology gathers pace, a recent audit of mean salaries by Janco Associates projected that blockchain specialists could expect compensation of US$100K or more.

Meanwhile, a Manager of Blockchain Architecture commands a median salary of $142,000, a Project Manager Blockchain could take $120,000, a Blockchain Analyst has a median salary of $123,500, and a Blockchain Developer commands $127,000.

An earlier estimation by recruitment firm Hired said blockchain engineers, on the other hand, could expect to make between US$150,000 and US$175,000, making them the highest paid roles in software development— at least US$25,000 higher than software developers on average.