Blockchain: More Than a Technology

Rebecca Hofmann, US Blockchain Strategy & Innovation, Equinor
Rebecca Hofmann, US Blockchain Strategy & Innovation, Equinor

Rebecca Hofmann, US Blockchain Strategy & Innovation, Equinor

Blockchain is more than just a technology, it is also a collaboration tool for your industry. Blockchain is a digital tool that is showing the potential and possibilities for companies to tackle an area of inefficiency that they have not been able to address in a good way before now. Companies have complete control over internal processes, but the reality is that no company does business by themselves and there are many external interactions in business that are extremely cumbersome, manual and inefficient thus wasting time and money for our companies.

Nearly two years ago, I attended a conference at Rice University on blockchain technology. I listened to blockchain startup companies and speakers on how blockchain technology was being used for banking and healthcare. I couldnfore now wondering, “what is this technology?” and “why should I care about it”. As I started to focus less on how the technology worked and more on its attributes then a whole new understanding began to develop.

From this, what we are seeing are numerous possible use cases, so where does one start? At Equinor, we took a strategic approach to look for viable solutions that could take advantage of the power of blockchain. In 2017, Equinor ran several proofs of concepts and what we found was this technology is most valuable when an industry agrees on a digital way of working. To do it right and mitigate risks, that “digital truth” should be established together with all relevant parties or you could runthe risk of creating a stand-alone product that misses the mark on establishing a true seamless way of working for external processes.

  Blockchain technology has the potential to have multiple parties interacting in a seamless way, with a central source of truth, in which business activities can be self-executed and recorded in real time, in a transparent way with no central point of failure thus making it more secure​  

In Q4 2016 – Equinor established a blockchain steering committee of 6 SVPs from innovation, digital center of excellence, marketing and trading, finance, corporate it and new energy solutions. Next, a small working group was established to execute the blockchain strategy. Which resulted in 2017 Equinor joining two industry consortiums; Energy Web Foundation and VAKT—both centered around blockchain trading solutions. In February 2018, I started the US Oil and Gas Blockchain Forum for operators where industry leaders come together to learn, lead and leverage blockchain technology to further the digitalization movement.

Equinorrs focus is on a strong digital foundation and innovation to support its sharpened strategy of always safe, high value and low carbon. To do this, we are embracing integrated thinking, digital tools, lean, efficient and compliant ways of working within secure cloud solutions. This takes Equinor towards platforms that combine the digital and physical elements as we do business. Current legacy processes are often digital; however, the data is disconnected and not in real time causing many problems for companies. We see future networks through blockchains creating a venue for data that is more secure, trusted and in real time.

Can you imagine a way of working that establishes one source of truth for all parties involved? As we interact in a normal course of business, activity is recorded in real time on the blockchain that cannot be tampered with, we have transparency in the activity and receive a copy of that truth when it happens. No more-your database said one thing and mine another; this could significantly reduce disputes. Depending on the business activity or need, the blockchain could also conduct self-executing tasks or terms maybe per a joint operating agreement or supply chain contract, helping simplify external processes thus benefiting all parties involved. This could potentially eliminate manual reconciliations and as ownership changes hands throughout the value chain, we could have visibility into this as it happens. Blockchain solutions could bring about better and real time decision making, all without a central point of failure. This is why people and companies are so intrigued with blockchain technology.

Now, that sounds transformational but there are some reasons this technology is not in mainstream:

Education: there are still many people who donre so intrigions and as ownership its true capabilities

Organizational change management: a new mind set embracing emerging technology is needed within our organizations

Digital Standards: an agreed digital language to work within a blockchain will need to be established by participating parties

The way we will break through these challenges and accomplish a seamless integrated way of working in the future will be through group collaboration. As our companies continue to look for creative ways to establish additional value, like integrating the full value chain, itnges and accomplish a seamless integrated way of working in the future will be through group collaboration. happens. Blockcanswer to help make this happen?

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