Oxford Saïd Launches Blockchain Course For Execs

Responding to a McKinsey report predicting that blockchain will “generate $80-$110 billion in impact” by 2021, the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School is launching a new digital blockchain strategy short course to prepare executives.

The new Oxford Blockchain Strategy Program offers “a fundamental understanding of where blockchain can be used, how it works, and its structural and market implications,” according to a news release from the school. Blockchain technology promises to radically overhaul the nature of business, changing the job landscape and disrupting across industries, the school says. The program will begin February 28, 2018 with six modules over six weeks.

Moreover, blockchain is at a “tipping point” where clarity is emerging about its potential use across multiple industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, energy, and financial services. “Behind this,” the news release says, “is a fear of job losses and massive industry disruption, as well as opportunities for new business models and emergent technologies to be created.”

“With 80% of banks developing blockchains, and industries from law to aerospace exploring possibilities, the next 5 to 10 years will see massive disruption from blockchain adoption as jobs are automated and new industry applications are created,” says David Shrier, associate fellow at Oxford Saïd and course co-convenor of the new program.

BLOCKCHAIN COULD ‘RADICALLY TRANSFORM TRADITIONAL APPROACHES TO MANAGEMENT’

The Wikipedia definition is handy to help beginners understand blockchain: “a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A blockchain can serve as ‘an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.'”

“When the internet was born,” Shrier adds, “people used it to email one another. Businesses like Amazon and Uber were inconceivable. Blockchain is a revolution of similar proportions, with undetermined potential, ramifications and opportunities.”

The Oxford Saïd program has been designed for senior executives and managers — as well as professionals with a keen interest in blockchain — to understand how blockchain will affect and shape business. It is designed, according to the school, to provide them with “an actionable strategy to respond to blockchain and incorporate it into their long-term planning.”

“The application of the core technology behind bitcoin — blockchain — extends much further than the widely recognized cryptocurrencies,” says Nir Vulkan, associate professor of business economics and co-convenor of the blockchain strategy program. “Blockchain has the potential not only to change how we transfer value, but could shift our systems of trade, identity, efficiency, and governance across all sectors, radically transforming traditional approaches to management. What participants will understand from our course is what is on the horizon for their business and how to prepare for that.”

LEADING EXPERTS TO CONTRIBUTE TO PROGRAM

Teppo Felin, professor of strategy at Oxford Saïd, will provide a framework for companies to capitalize on the blockchain opportunity. The program will also feature guest speakers Meltem Demirors, director at the Digital Currency Group, and professor Sandy Pentland, one of the world’s leading data scientists, as well as a number of practicing entrepreneurs, technologists, and financiers of the blockchain sector.

“In addition to the insights and advice these global authorities share on the program — through video interviews and lectures — participants will be equipped with two strategy frameworks developed specifically for the program: the Oxford Blockchain Strategy framework, and the Oxford Blockchain Regulation framework,” according to the news release. On completion, participants will receive a certificate of attendance from Saïd Business School and access to the Oxford Saïd Executive Education alumni network.

“Technology and the mobile revolution are rapidly transforming financial markets, institutions, and business models,” says Peter Tufano, dean of Saïd Business School. “Drawing upon the expertise of leading academics and practitioners from Oxford Saïd and colleagues from across the university, our new digital programs, supported by our partner GetSmarter, will provide entrepreneurs and executives with the insights and knowledge necessary to navigate this changing landscape, and adapt and progress in their careers.”

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