The invitation to a blockchain workshop reached my inbox in March 2018. Lucas Zaehringer, the founder of positiveblockchain.io, needed support. I (Nhan) didn’t hesitate and agreed. It was definitely worth doing this contribution to a company like the AfB Group, which aims to create 500 IT jobs for people with disabilities. Especially because to task was to share knowledge about Blockchain for social impact & supply chains. The 6th June 2018 approached and soon the preparation for the workshop was set. Lucas, Felix, Nhan and spontaneously Matthieu from Paris are on tour to Ettlingen for the AfB-Forum 2018, which takes place every 2 years. 130+ partners, customers and employees of the AfB Group spend a nice day together directly in the AfB headquarters to discuss possible interfaces between IT, digital, social impact and sustainability. People joined the sight tour, followed inspiring presentations and workshops and enjoyed good food & drinks. All activities to connect different people from different fields in one place.
The moderator Markus Brock (TV moderator of 3Sat and SWR) started the show and introduced the format. After that Daniel Büchle the founder of AfB welcomed the visitors, a panel discussion was held with IT & CSR representatives from large German corporates (Siemens, Schaeffler, Fujitsu, Lidl, etc.) on the subject of “Sustainability in IT”. In the second half of the panel discussion, Markus Brock asked each panel member questions about the blockchain technology. The topic of blockchain took up almost 50% of the discussion. This was a steep model for our Blockchain workshop.
We were surprised to hear that energy consumption was still the hot topic to address blockchain limitations and that it was still well placed in the minds of IT managers. This shows that people still equate the cryptocurrency Bitcoin with blockchain technology. “For this reason, Blockchain is therefore not yet an option to be applied to business”. We smiled and looked forward to our Blockchain Workshop in the afternoon.
The Blockchain Workshop
Our workshop room was well packed. We naturally started with a direct statement on energy consumption. There are private blockchains, consortium blockchains, Bitcoin is not equal to blockchain, because it showed that the IT experts still needed blockchain education ;). So far we won the attention of the participants! The title of our workshop was “Blockchain for Good Supply Chains”. “Good” in the sense of positive and not in the sense of “purchasing good”. Lucas started with current trends and observations in the world. What projects have been carried out at the UN, the World Bank and other institutions? With positiveblockchain.io he gave the participants of the Blockchain workshop an overview of “good” projects with social impact. Then Nhan took over and gave an introduction to blockchain technology. Felix then followed with some supply chain case studies and ended with an outlook and challenges of blockchain technology.
With a good speed, we wrapped up our workshop and received very good feedback from all participants. Business cards were exchanged, questions answered and we were called “The New Kids on The Block” :D.
“The workshop showed very well the natural interaction between the social world and the blockchain. The team encouraged me to go more in this direction and to analyze the possibilities of the blockchain for our social business. I gladly recommend the workshop to others. We all at the AfB Group liked it.” (Nicole Cvilak, Head Project Manager, AfB Group)
Ending and Networking
After the workshop, all visitors gathered in the large “hall” for the closing ceremony of the day. Markus Brock summarized some workshops for visitors who were unable to attend one or the other workshop (workshops were held in parallel). And the “New Kids on The Block” came up on stage for another “plea” for the Blockchain technology. Daniel Büchle thanked everyone and all workshop leads received a small gift – we suggest removing the plastic wrap for the next time :p.
At the end of the day visitors, participants and speakers enjoyed the BBQ and some cool drinks on the company premises of the AfB Group. After a very hot day, it was bitterly necessary to cool down. Afterwards, the blockchain kids returned to Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Ingelheim.
Our conclusion and observations of the day and the Blockchain-Workshop
- Our assumption that Blockchain is already on the agenda was refuted by the feedback of the participants
- Blockchain case studies help to create the “aha” experience for newcomers to Blockchain
- The knowledge of IT managers in large corporates scratches the surface and needs even more depth to use the advantages and potentials of Blockchain
- It’s fun to hold workshops together as contributors
- We can inspire people through our motivation for Blockchain.
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