A new tool that tests organisational readiness across 6 domains
Juho Lindman and Livia Norström
University of Gothenburg and UGBlab, Sweden
The University of Gothenburg’s Blockchain Lab has released the Blockchain Readiness Assessment Tool, which is freely available. The Blockchain Lab is an initiative to establish a creative environment that allows researchers and students involved with the University
of Gothenburg and Swedish Centre for Digital Innovation to
work with blockchain solutions in their studies and research.
Organizations can use the tool to better understand their knowledge of blockchain and the success factors affecting successful deployment. Developed with the support of the BLING project, the tool has undergone significant testing within the partnAership and with governments and organizations across Europe. The online tool will provide users and organizations with a range of targeted materials to help them develop their capacity to undertake their own blockchain journeys and to develop relevant skills and capacities for success once they’ve undergone the assessment.
BRAT is intended to be used in one organization at a time. A maturity score will be generated for each organization, which can be compared to that of other organizations as a benchmark.
An organisation can also repeat BRAT, and compare results to their earlier scores to see how their capacity is developing over time.
Measuring blockchain readiness in public sector organizations
Despite the public sector interest in blockchain technology, few blockchain projects have gone beyond a concept or pilot stage. This means we have limited knowledge of how the particular characteristics and properties of blockchain will play out when implemented in public sector services at scale. Organizations which are starting to engage with blockchain technology thus have less evidence to draw from than they might like when assessing the technology and making design and architecture decisions.
Against this backdrop, GUBlab and BLING have developed the Blockchain Readiness Assessment Tool (BRAT) as a tool for organizations who want to explore the development and design of blockchain-enabled services. The tool is a survey instrument that can be used by organizations to facilitate internal discussions about their readiness to adopt blockchain, and their organization’s capacity and capabilities.
Users of BRAT should be able to make their organization more aware of its capacity to explore/adopt blockchain enabled services, and the tool will identify areas where improvements can be made and where organisational capacity can be developed.
BRAT is designed as a set of simple questions that support discussions around the key aspects that make up an organisation’s blockchain maturity. It covers six themes
for public sector organisations – 1) business need, 2) organization roles and participants, 3) blockchain architecture, 4) legal requirements, 5) data handling, and 6) the more philosophical aspects which we call ‘mandate’.
These domains are explored in more detail below, with each theme explained and then followed by a question prompt to lead the organisation’s discussions on blockchain exploration/adoption.
The Blockchain Readiness Assessment Tool
BRAT can be used in two ways – as a survey, and as a workshop tool. Organisations can survey employees and stakeholders and collate survey responses to develop a broad organisational view of their relative strengths and weaknesses across the six domains BRAT covers. Alternatively, organisations can complete the tool through workshops with staff and stakeholders – this approach may facilitate greater discussion about relative organisational strengths and experiences and provides an opportunity to bring in external experts and facilitators.
The BRAT tool provides an organisation with a structure to gauge their blockchain readiness by focusing on capacity in six thematic areas. Each theme begins with a statement setting out relevant issues/background, and then gives a question prompt to help the organisation consider their readiness to adopt blockchain technology. The participants score each question on a numeric scale from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 6 (Strongly Agree).
These six domain scores can then be combined to provide a score for the organisation, which can be used to either benchmark the organisation against peers, or to track the organisation’s progress over time. The BRAT tool will also provide tailored recommendations for additional resources, based on the organisation’s overall score and on the individual scores in the six domains.
Theme: Business need
Using blockchain to store and manage data can be slower and less private than some conventional solutions, but it removes the need for trust between parties, and is tamper- and censor-proof in ways that conventional service solutions are not. Before spending a lot of money and effort to create a blockchain solution, an organisation considering this approach should determine whether there is an actual need for a blockchain solution – i.e. that their problem cannot be solved by other approaches or technologies, and whether the adoption of blockchain fits into their overall organisational and technical strategies.
As an organization we have… identified/captured a need that can only be effectively addressed by using a blockchain application.
Theme: Organizational roles and participants
Before building a blockchain application, you should have an understanding of who the participants of the blockchain solution will be, and what the trust relationships are between these participants. This covers the organisations who will participate in delivering the service, the organisations that will fund the service, the organisations that will use the service, the organisations that will provide technical support, and so on.
As an organization we have… a clear understanding of the roles required in our application and who should fill those roles.
Theme: Blockchain Architecture
When creating a blockchain application, there are a range of technical and architectural design choices that need to be made about the blockchain. These range from determining how open the blockchain should be (i.e. public vs. private), to choosing which consensus mechanism your solutions will use, to deciding on a transaction model. These choices should be made to fit the needs and requirements of the organisation’s particular use case.
As an organization we have… a thought-out strategy for making design choices about the architecture of our blockchain solution.
Theme: Legal requirements
There will be legal ‘entry points’ at the intersection of the blockchain and the physical world, and it follows that the blockchain solution which organisations develop will have to comply with relevant national legislation if it is going to be useful.
Public sector organizations often have specific sets of legislation regulating their activities, as well as more general regulations such as the GDPR. Public sector organizations are representatives of the state, and therefore must be careful to create systems that comply with applicable laws.
As an organization we have… identified which area of legislation our blockchain solution must comply with.
Theme: Data handling
When considering what data an
organisation’s solution needs to store, and where it will store this data, it is important to consider the regulatory restrictions or possibilities of
the blockchain application, and how this aligns with the architecture that the organisation
has proposed for their blockchain solution. For example, some data may be better suited for storage off-chain, due to legal requirements (such as GDPR compliance) or scalability, whereas other types of data should be stored on- chain or for purposes of transparency and immutability/permanence.
As an organization we have… a clear understanding of what kind of data we should store on the blockchain and what to store off-chain.
One of the fundamental ideas motivating the adoption of blockchain is to replace intermediaries and third parties in processes where possible – in finance, in organizations, in governance, etc. – through the use of approaches like self-sovereign identity.
These technologies allow organisations to work directly with clients/citizens without requiring other organisations (such as identity providers, certificate providers) to participate in or support the exchange or service. An organization
considering a blockchain solution should think about how their operating model and their offer may be shaped by the ways in which blockchain can be used as way to disintermediate their working processes, and reduce the need to use or rely on intermediary partners.
As an organization we are… discussing if/how blockchain-based government services can change the role, need and mandate of the public sector.
High scores fromthe BRAT indicate that an organization can feel confident about moving forward and developing blockchain based applications in their organization – these scores would indicate that the organization is ‘mature’ enough to use and take advantage of the technology and has a good understanding of the particular challenges and risks involved.
Low scores would indicate that an organization might be at the start of their blockchain journey, and should work to develop the capacities that they don’t yet have, and to address the self-identified capacity gaps in domains where their scores were low. Organisations with relatively low scores should develop their capacity in these areas and then re-take the assessment before beginning a program of blockchain service development. OR