The Rise of a New Workforce

Explanation: The goal of this article is to underline a couple of methods through which organizations are dealing with the shortage of blockchain developers and to present some market places that are currently being developed for blockchain. 

Since its invention in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, blockchain has become a spearhead in technological innovation and is set up to become an engine of revolution across multiple domains, transforming traditional models, making them more efficient, secure, profitable and less time consuming. Many people argue that blockchain will disrupt any industry, similar to what happened with the internet back in the ‘90s.
As such, it’s no surprise that big name companies like IBM, Mastercard, Delloite, Accenture and JP Morgan Chase, only to name a few, wish to embark the hype train and explore everything blockchain has to offer.  Because the attention it received during recent years the demand for experienced blockchain developers has skyrocketed. But there is a problem. Blockchain is still a relatively new technology, so there aren’t sufficient blockchain developers to meet market demand. Due to its complexity, blockchain developers are required to be proficient in several programming languages and have extensive knowledge in app development, security and engineering.
One answer to this problem is to offer in house training for employees. This is a viable solution for companies that have at their disposition a large resource pool. One big name that invested heavily in this endeavor is IBM. The juggernaut hired numerous technical professionals and created its own training centers dedicated to quickly train employees to develop blockchain technology. After completing the course, trainees receive a certificate of completion which attests their newly acquired skills. IOHK, a blockchain and research development company offered a free summer course to computer science graduates in Athens who had been selected by university professors. IOHK representatives said that the course attempted to strike a balance between a theoretical background of functional programming and practical techniques for solving real-world problems. In addition to lectures, students had to complete challenging assignments and programming projects, like creating a peer-to-peer network.
The problem is that not many companies have sufficient resources available to train their employees or don’t have teams with enough expertise to provide any assurance around the technology. In this case, a reasonable solution is to outsource blockchain development work to freelancers and agencies specialized in this field. Linkedin, Symbasync, Jobandtalent, Upwork and Jobtoday are only a few examples of job matching platforms that can put companies in contact with freelancers experienced in blockchain development. Because the blockchain skill set is in such high demand, prices usually fluctuate in the higher price range.
There is a discrepancy between market demands for blockchain developers and available professionals and companies can’t wait for computer science graduates to fill the demand. The demand is so high, that many companies are turning to a new type of employee, the new collar worker. This term refers to individuals that don’t have a college degree but possess a particular skill set, in this case, knowledge about blockchain. Online platform like Lynda, Teamtreehouse and Udemy offer numerous blockchain related courses which may help dedicated individuals master the concept.
At the moment, blockchain developers have a fairly limited range of choices regarding jobs. They can either work for a startup and kind of freelance it or they can work for a big company like IBM, Microsoft and so on. Both options come with its set of advantages and disadvantages. When freelancing for a startup, you have the benefit of flexibility, but there is a certain level of risk because you’re never sure if the company will manage to resist in the market. On the other hand, when working for a bug enterprise, to some extent you are obliged to forfeit your freedom and self-direction.  There is also a middle ground option which allows developers to accumulate enough revenue but also to develop their reputation and work within a community. I’m talking about specialized marketplaces for blockchain.
A specialized marketplace for blockchain acts like a forum for developers to showcase their skill set and offer smart contract solutions to buyers. Most of them make use of a governing native token that clients use to pay developers for their services. Some platforms come with integrated tools designed to help blockchain developers write, deploy, manage and monitor both smart contracts and private blockchains in an easier and more seamless way. The system is relatively simple. A company may come to this market place and make a request of an API that performs a specific function. After the request is sent, developers propose various solutions. The customer then tests them, picks one that best suits their needs and pays the bounty. Upon completion, developers receive a review or rating from the buyer, thus helping them to gain a certain level of notoriety within the marketplace.

Dragonchain
“Unlike existing platforms, with Dragonchain you retain complete control of your data. Sensitive business logic and smart contract functionality is kept proprietary.” – Joe Roets architect, founder, CEO of Dragonchain.
Dragonchain is a blockchain platform based in Seattle which strives to simplify the integration of real business applications onto a blockchain, by providing easy integration, protection of business data and operations, currency agnosticism, and multi-currency support.
Their team is currently working on Dragonchain Inc., a commercial entity which will provide a unique combination of server-less architecture and blockchain technology and an incubation project. Dragonchain’s hybrid model facilitates a server-less approach, because the smart contracts are executed in a traditional model and on a trusted node.
Dragonchain provides two levels of professional services, those offered by the company staff and those provided by qualified vendors. Their services will cover domains like legal, strategic, marketing, development, and finance.
They do extensive collaboration with companies in order to help them identify what smart contract and blockchain solutions are best suited for their business. Some examples are Look Lateral – Liquid Art, Seed2You, LifeID, IDPay, ClevX.

Etherparty 
For individual who do not have extensive programming and app development knowledge, blockchain and smart contract technology may seem as otherworldly concepts. So, most companies don’t have the opportunity to tap into the benefits of these technologies because they are overwhelmed by their complexity.
Etherparty’s goal is to remove all these barriers and make blockchain and smart contracts available to everyone, which in turn will expand the rate of commercial and consumer adoption of blockchain technology. Etherparty is a contract wizard that removes the complexity of creating, managing and executing smart contracts on a compatible blockchain. The main advantage is its accessibility and simplicity. Users with no background in programing are able to create enforceable digital agreements for all types of transactions. Etherparty promises to do for smart contracts what content management systems, like WordPress and Wix, did for web development
The current version of the app allows for the creation and crowd funding of ERC20 or ERC223 compliant tokens and for sports bets on professional baseball. The app makes use of two hosted Ethereum nodes, one for the main Ethereum network and the other for testnet. This structure was implemented in order to allow users to thoroughly test the contracts before deploying them.
Their team is still working on the app and they intend to launch an updated version which will include a library of smart contracts and a marketplace for user crated contract templates. This will allow users with no programming background to create blockchain transactions in the form of smart contracts that can reflect any type of agreement in legal and business contexts. If you would like a more thorough review of EtherParty, you can find it here.

Appian 
Founded in 1999, Appian is a veteran in the low code development landscape. At its core, Appian is DApp store for the Ethereum ecosystem that aims to bridge the gap between users and developers over a decentralized platform. Similar to how traditional app stores changed the way we use mobile phones; Appian wants to make decentralized apps available to the mass market.
In order to achieve this, the platform makes use of low code development which allows users to change business apps faster and easier, you don’t need extensive programming knowledge to reap the benefits. Visual development tools combine drag – and – drop and point – and – click features facilitates app building and customization in mere minutes.
Appian named its platform, the ‘Decentralized Application Creator’, structuring it in four key components: the Appian Builder, Appian Escrow, Appian Helper and the Appian DApp Store.
The Appian Builder is a smart contract development tool that simplifies the solidity programming language in order to make it accessible to beginners. Combined with a user friendly interface and the ability to drag premade functions onto the screen make it an easy to use smart contract building platform.
The Appian Escrow facilitates a reliable decentralized escrow service for buyers and sellers through the use of smart contracts. Based on an Ethereum blockchain network, it allows trustless transactions to take place, also acting as an immutable record for the transaction data.
Appian Helper acts as a mechanism that awards users that give high quality feedback and suggestions to developers with APP Tokens (the native token of the platform). As such, users are stimulated to contribute to the development of an app and rewarded for their work.
The Appian Store aims to be a versatile online store for decentralized apps. Users will be able to easily highlight favorite apps and to search and sort them based on four tabs: Featured, Highest Rated, Categories, and Search.

IOTA 
The Internet of Things Application (IOTA) is blockchain based solution for smart device management that enables companies to explore new B2B models by making every technological resource a potential service to be traded on an open market in real time, with no fees.
The key mechanism behind IOTA is the Tangle ledger, a scalable, decentralized ledger that can be adapted to manage any device capable to connect to the internet. This ledger is able to settle transactions with zero fees, meaning that devices can trade exact amounts of resources on demand, but also store and verify information from sensors and dataloggers in a secure fashion.
The Tangle ledger is IOTA’s innovative solution for overcoming some of the inherent restrictions present within a blockchain system. As the size of a blockchain increases, it becomes slower, more expensive and more restrictive to transfer funds. This new blockless distributed ledger allows value to be transferred without additional fees. Unlike a blockchain, consensus is no longer fragmented, but becomes an innate part of the system as a whole, creating a decentralized and self-regulating peer to peer network.
In order to submit a transaction to the IOTA ledger, users must verify two other previous transactions. This verification method eliminates the need for a central ledger and the need for miners to power the network. Devices on the network randomly verify each other’s transactions, building consensus through the web of connections between transactions. This type of verification is facilitated by the Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) mechanism which IOTA refers to as Tangle.
The Internet of Things is slowly becoming a major force in the world economy. As such, IOTA’s goal is to become a platform for machine to machine transactions which will allow devices in the network to share and allocate resources efficiently in order to process dozens of transactions per second. On the other hand, blockchain networks encounter issues as the number of blocks increases and are forced to charge fees in order for miners to include a transaction in a block sooner.
Besides acting as a framework for the ‘economy of things’ where computational of smart devices can be shared in real time around the Globe, IOTA also provides viable solutions for areas such as micro-transactions, data transfer, voting, masked messaging and practically anything that needs a scalable ledger.

Modex 
They claim to be the world’s first app store for blockchain. Modex’s goal is to bridge the gap between businesses and blockchain developers in order to provide viable solutions for real world problems. Focus is placed on multiple domains such as public health, citizen movements to help secure fair elections, reduce energy flows in logistic supply chains, keep the extractive industries in compliance, balance food production and soil quality, protect artists and musicians’ intellectual property, stimulate job creation for youth populations, and much more.  Given the emerging norm for ‘borderless’ transactions, distributed ledger technology (aka the Blockchain) has opened the door for a new world of “data exchange”, facilitated through Smart Contracts.
The platform is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain protocol which will incorporate other emergent protocols that will support smart contracts. Developers will be able to use this platform to reach out to companies and provide them with various apps. Besides smart contract templates, developers will also have at their disposition a range of tools that will facilitate easy customization of smart contracts. The advantage for clients is that no technical skill is required. All technical details are managed in such a way that users will be able to access all the advantages of blockchain even if they aren’t accustomed to programming.  ​

Blockchain technology has brought in the creation of a new transparent economic environment that currently shapes the rate and direction of innovation in society. Even if it’s still in its incipient stages, the market demand for blockchain developers is steadily increasing, making it a valuable career option. The market demand currently far exceeds the offer and it’s interesting to see how companies invent new ways to stimulate a blockchain proficient workforce. The emergence of new marketplaces for blockchain signals that the demand for developers will further increase, signaling the beginning of a new technological revolution in which this newly emergent workforce will reshape traditional models, bringing new levels of efficiency and cohesion to society.