Deloitte’s Dublin lab is bringing blockchain into the real world

Working with major organisations around the world, Deloitte’s EMEA Blockchain Lab in Dublin is spearheading the deployment of blockchain.

Blockchain as a technology is only a few years old. And, while it forms the linchpin for developments such as cyryptocurrency, it has the potential for many more use cases.

‘Taking blockchain live is more than just the technology. You are actually creating real transformation; you are creating entirely new ecosystems or processes that didn’t exist before’
– ANTHONY DAY

The technology consists of blocks that hold timestamped batches of recent valid transactions, which form a chain, with each block reinforcing those preceding it. It could be used to provide an indelible ledger to catalogue everything from the distribution of pharmaceuticals to the journey of food, from the farm to the fork.

As outlined earlier this year at a recent Deloitte Community of Practice event in Dublin, the real promise of blockchain is clarity, transparency and traceability.

In Dublin, Deloitte has established the EMEA Blockchain Lab, which aims to advise clients on the technology’s application. We caught up with some of the leading team members of the Deloitte EMEA Blockchain Lab to see where it is at in bringing blockchain from concept to reality.

From idea to action

“The blockchain lab is an EMEA centre for excellence for blockchain within Deloitte,” explained Cillian Leonowicz, head of business development for the lab.

“We do everything from ideation through to the deployment of blockchains for commercial entities. So, this includes everything between the ideas, the testing of the use cases, right through to the technical architecture and the design and development, and the deployment of it.

“The key point is the multidisciplinary approach we would have. It is not just technology, it is looking at digital transformation, digital innovation and then re-engineering value chains.”

For Anthony Day, chief operating officer of the Deloitte EMEA Blockchain Lab, it is really about pioneering the future. “Taking blockchain live is more than just the technology. You are actually creating real transformation; you are creating entirely new ecosystems or processes that didn’t exist before.

“The technology is really only 20pc of the problem; the other 80pc is getting a multidisciplinary group together, whether that be traditional competitors or a group of executives from industries that don’t typically work together. The hard part often is the governance; getting the principles in place for how we work together, how we fund, how we onboard and then taking the processes through from conception into reality, making digital things into real-world processes, real-world business challenges or opportunities. That’s the hard part.”

Data and security

In terms of data and security, Antonio Senatore, chief technology officer at the Deloitte EMEA Blockchain Lab, said that organisations are looking at using the technology as a trust layer to enable safe data-sharing.

“You can see blockchain almost as an indexing layer, a trust layer on top of a data exchange facility, and that’s what we’ve been seeing so far.”

The key to the technology’s success, said David Dalton, consulting partner and financial services lead at Deloitte, is bringing value to Deloitte’s clients through practical applications. “Two-and-a-half years ago, we set up the lab in Dublin. It was our first lab globally; we have since set up two more, one in Hong Kong and one in New York.

“We focus on working with clients and groups of clients because consortia really become important in blockchain applications as a network technology, and we are building production applications on this technology now. We have all of the supports you would expect in a lab. We have the R&D, we have the thought leadership, we also speak a lot [at conferences] and build awareness around it. But the core of what we do is work with building clients’ real-world solutions on blockchain technology.”

Amy Pugh, manager of the Deloitte EMEA Blockchain Lab, said that 75pc of staff at the lab are technologists focusing on design and development, while the remaining 25pc are strategists working with clients on their blockchain journey, developing valuable use cases.

“It is an exciting space to be in to collaborate and help drive the value across the network.”

Dublin skyline. Image: David_Soanes/Depositphotos

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