By Brian Rogers '15SPS & Kiran Murty '15SPS, Founders Columbia Blockchain Alliance
It seems that every day in the news we read about yet another blockchain solution or company. This velocity of information is making it increasingly difficult for people to differentiate or establish the value of blockchain technologies. For those of us closest to blockchain technologies, the opportunity to drive change across most industries is undeniable. Blockchain technology is not just one thing; it represents an entire eco-system, which only exacerbates confusion among people interested in learning more or using it.
Like many new fast moving technologies in the media, such as artificial intelligence/machine learning and big data, it’s imperative that you find trusted sources of information. Last Thursday (07/13/2017) evening Columbia University Blockchain Alliance (referred to as CBA and with members from Business, Engineering, and Professional Studies Schools) hosted its first gathering in New York City. At this inaugural event, founders Kiran Murty and Brian Rogers hosted Columbia University community members and guest speakers from Oracle, BitDevsNY group, Blockmatics.tech, and blockchainforchange.org.
Introduction to bitcoin and alt-currencies
The evening started with a talk from organizers of BitDevsNYC group. The team provided the audience with an easy-to-follow overview on the complex world of bitcoin and alt-currencies. They went on to discuss some of the challenges they work on. Things around scaling bitcoin technology, security, the impacts of a hard fork, and regulation.
If you would like to gain a better understanding of Bitcoin and Alt-currencies we highly recommend BitDevsNYC group https://www.meetup.com/BitDevsNYC/
Educational platform for Blockchain technologies
One of the biggest problems with blockchain adoption today is, simply understanding what it is and subsequently how it can benefit society and businesses. Successful adoption and usage of a technology depends on a solid understanding of its core fundamentals, which can be achieved with the appropriate education.
Our second speaker was Solomon Lederer, Co-Founder of Blockmatics.tech, a research and education company that produces training programs on blockchain technology. At Blockmatics, Lederer and team approach’s education through use cases and implementations. Examples include experimenting with Open Bazaar bitcoin marketplace to launching a personal blockchain on Microsoft Azure. This form of education provides students with hands on exercise, demonstrations, and facilitates group discussions.
In nature of Blockmatic’s education methodology, Lederer’s talk gave the audience a high-level overview of what blockchain technology is providing, real world examples on blockchain and how the eco-system works.
Blockchain technology to advance transparent and accountable social impact projects and organizations
It has become abundantly clear that blockchain will be a disrupter to industries and a vehicle for change. Our third speaker was Calvin Bradley, Co-Founder of Blockchain for Change, which focuses on how blockchain will promote transparency and support accountable social impact. Blockchain for Change is made up of a diverse and talented team coming from the Carter Center Foundation, JP Morgan, several fintech entrepreneurs and even a former candidate for the mayor of New York City.
Bradley spoke about how their Fummi product, a blockchain verified ID system, is being used to deliver on the promise of financial inclusion and empowerment.
The Enterprise Blockchain Solution – Moving out of Labs to Industrialization
Full adoption of an emerging technology is not solely dependent on understanding its core fundamentals, but also whether it can be successfully integrated at an enterprise level. It is critical for an enterprise to integrate a technology that suites its operating model and aligns with its business demand and market segment. Furthermore, if startups disrupt the way new business models are conceived, enterprise software companies accelerate the delivery of these models to the larger enterprise class customers.
Enterprise companies such as, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, EMC, Amazon, and Salesforce have to be constantly innovating and adopting emerging technology models to stay relevant in the marketplace.
For many of us managing technology for large companies, we have personally built our careers using software and tools from most of these companies in delivering enterprise class solutions. To stay relevant and to compete with smaller more agile companies, large corporations continue to re-invent themselves with emerging technologies.
Our final speaker was Sanjay Mathew, Senior Director, Head of Open Banking Platforms & Fintech Innovations at Oracle. On a broad scale, Oracle has been strategically adopting and integrating emerging market fintechs and other innovative software solutions into their portfolio, and blockchain is another technology on the company’s radar. At the CBA event, Sanjay Mathew said that Oracle is exploring potential blockchain services for the Oracle Cloud, with the goal of offering an advanced enterprise-grade distributed ledger cloud platform for customers who are looking to build new blockchain-based applications or extend their current SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and on-premises applications.
Oracle is researching emerging blockchain technologies and the needs of customers based on feedback from the company’s global user base. Sanjay outlined some of these points, including the need for a blockchain cloud platform that is scalable, secure and offers easy eco-system integration.
Open source collaborations are also an area of interest for Oracle, given how these can be leveraged to maintain interoperability, support modular architecture and enable cross-industry blockchain technologies. Additionally, Sanjay shared three key tenants he believes blockchain solutions must do:
1) Address the top needs of enterprises, such as scalability, security, robustness, integration, and performance.
2) Make it easy for customers to deploy, provision, manage and monitor blockchain, as well as reduce the cost of deploying blockchain across a company.
3) Enable users to connect enterprise business processes through a distributed ledger, including procurement, trade finance, accounting, HR and CX. Businesses must also be able to connect to a blockchain to share data and conduct distributed transactions with third parties. Blockchain solutions are badly needed at the edge of the enterprise for creating new business models. Blockchain solutions with integrations to the enterprise will advance the industrialization of blockchain.
Lastly, Sanjay added that Oracle is exploring enterprise-related blockchain technologies in this evolving space and working with partners who can add value relevant to its global customer base.
A successful and fun night
Last Thursday’s event was made possible from the support and contributions from leaders and members at Columbia Business School, Columbia School of Professional Studies, Columbia FinTech, and Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
We look forward to hosting future events and providing a trusted source of information on blockchain technologies.
Columbia University Blockchain Alliance
Kiran Murty and Brian Rogers founded this alliance within the Columbia schools and alumni network to unite, educate, and promote blockchain technologies, by bringing together some of the country’s best minds and leaders, who will showcase the top emerging companies. The Columbia Blockchain Alliance (CBA) will be hosting events and covering topics ranging from Bitcoin/alt-currencies, Ethereum, smart contracts, distributed ledgers, ICO’s (token sales), legal & compliance, venture capital, convergence of AI and machine learning with blockchain, and future blockchain technology related practices.
We are always looking for help from members who would like to volunteer or join our Columbia alliance.
We would love to hear from you to;
· Suggest topics for future events
· Let us use your corporate spaces for hosting our events
· Corporate sponsorships
· Speaker/moderator opportunities
Cheers and Thank You,
Kiran and Brian