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3 posts from October 2019

29 October 2019

How blockchain can help HR reduce recruitment costs and transform the hiring process

by Samar Singh Global Blockchain Driver

by Chris Clements Senior Development Manager

For many organisations, the recruitment, onboarding and managing of new talent is a fundamental yet painfully inefficient, and costly, paper-based manual process. The key challenge for HR recruiters is still ensuring potential candidates are who they say they are (Authentication) and have verifiable qualifications (Authorisation). Both these aspects of credentials are key ingredients of building trust and confidence in the hire.

Where organisations do these checks – and some 51% of hiring managers admit they don’t – it can take weeks chasing emails, letters and phone calls to universities, colleges and previous employers.

Not only is the process full of inefficiencies but it also poses a serious trust issue. How much faith can organisations put in the qualifications and credentials that applicants claim to hold?

The consequences of getting it wrong should send a shudder up any HR manager’s spine. In one survey of more than 2,000 HR managers in the US, nearly three quarters admitted to hiring the wrong person for a job. Citing the reasons for those poor decisions, HR managers said in 45% of cases the worker’s skills didn’t match those they claimed to have, while 33% of applicants lied about their qualifications.

Other experts, such as Freakonomics author Steven D Levitt, claim more than half of job applicants lie on their CVs.

Those hiring mistakes can come at a huge cost for organisations. The primary assets for any organisation is its workforce, and people costs can amount to upto 70% of an organisational cost. In addition to the onboarding costs, a bad hire can cost a company almost a third of the employee’s first-year earnings. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh even put the cost of bad hires to his company at a staggering $100 million. And that’s before you even start trying to calculate the effect on productivity and morale of other workers, or the potential brand and reputational damage a bad hire could cause. This could be either through a malicious act or by making a mistake because they don’t have the skillset that they claimed to have.

That’s why PwC has developed Smart Credentials,an offering that enables credentials to be issued, carried and shared globally, using a blockchain platform, instead of having to rely on paper-based versions.

Stored in secure digital wallets, individual qualifications and professional certifications can be locked in by their issuing bodies, giving employers and regulators confidence that workers’ credentials are accurate and up to date, as well as speeding up the vetting process for new recruits.

Smart Credentials is based on three key stakeholders and works as follows:

  • Issuer: An institute or regulatory body that creates verified credentials
  • Owner: An individual who has the ability to share and revoke their credentials with other parties
  • Reviewer: An organisation that needs to view credentials and validate their authenticity

PwC’s Smart Credentials offering is currently being piloted by some of our own staff who have qualified with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) in the last two years. Smart Credentials has a cross industry applicability and at present covers all aspects of issuing or reissuing credentials or records of achievements in permanence leveraging Blockchain as a Trusted technology.

In this ICAS pilot, the owner is the recently qualified chartered accountant at PwC. ICAS issues the digital certificate to that person. That digital certificate then becomes part of the person’s digital wallet; it can be updated and verified with ongoing professional development, and can be shared with others on request in a safe and secure way. The platform also enables ICAS to revoke a certificate more easily, which can be difficult with paper-based ones where people can still display and show a certificate to recruiters even if it’s no longer valid.

The Smart Credentials platform is also easy to deploy and use. In this trial, ICAS is exposed to a user interface through a portal that allows the organisation to issue certificates. Employees simply access it through a portal and mobile app. Blockchain is just the back-end technology under the hood, providing the permanence and auditability trail. This is important because ease of use is paramount if this technology is to gain more traction.

Beyond HR and recruitment, there are also many other opportunities for organisations to exploit this technology in education, aviation and healthcare.

Get in touch to find out more about how PwC’s Smart Credentials blockchain platform could help your organisation.

We’re really excited to be sponsoring Decentralized at the end of October in Greece. We hope to see you there!

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by Samar Singh Global Blockchain Driver

by Chris Clements Senior Development Manager

10 October 2019

The role of AI in achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals

by Maria Axente Artificial Intelligence Programme Driver and AI for Good Lead

AI can play a key role in reaching global Sustainable Development Goals, here’s how:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on target to have a profound impact on humanity. PwC’s Sizing the Prize report shows just how big a game changer AI is likely to become, potentially contributing US$15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, the same deadline the United Nations (UN) have set for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now is the time to lay the foundations to harness AI’s potential and mitigate its potential risks. Now is the time to use this technology to benefit our society and planet.

At PwC, we have comprehensive expertise in the development and application of AI solutions for specific business problems and a deep understanding of the SDGs in a business context. Our tools and propositions in the AI and SDG space are contributing to the mission of AI for Good, by empowering businesses to make a positive impact on society and the planet.

Based on our learnings from AI for Earth initiatives and our industry expertise, we’ve identified three key factors that will contribute to sustainable and long term results in implementing the technology in solving social, economical and environmental problems.

1. Identify and tackle SDGs that are particularly relevant for your business

It’s important to be able to identify global goals which your business most affects, and that the organisation would most like to tackle. Those initiatives can then be aligned with the UN’s SDGs framework. Finding tech solutions to SDG challenges is critical to accelerating the response and creating positive returns across the ‘tech for good’ agenda. It is also important to not only include an impact assessment (economic, social, environmental), but to align initiatives with SDG taxonomy and roadmaps. Moreover, assessing the size of the AI opportunity and which techniques to deploy is also important, as it is the broader external context. Responsible AI, therefore, should not only incorporate the attributes of fairness, accountability, safety, transparency, but also find a way to maximise benefits, manage potential risks, and work holistically for people and the planet.

2. Government Strategy

It’s paramount to have a robust and end-to-end governance system from strategy through to execution. Appropriate governance for AI (policies, processes and standard), enable organisations large or small to be in control of their AI. Adapting and adopting robust governance frameworks from the business world in the social sector means that AI development can be safely implemented. This will allow organisations to deliver AI systems in a responsible manner, and at scale. The Responsible AI toolkit was designed to assist all types of organisations in developing and deploying ethical and responsible AI solutions (AIS) across three categories and five dimensions, ranging from ethics and regulation, to governance.

3. Strong Global Partnerships

Achieving the UN’s SDGs with AI can can only be realised by 2030 by committing strongly to global partnerships collaboration and cooperation. In fact, goal 17, ‘Partnerships for the goals’ stresses that multi-stakeholder partnerships are essential to engendering and sharing knowledge, expertise, technology, data and relationships, to achieve the goals across the globe.

This week is World AI Week. We’re helping to ‘drive forward the implementation of AI in business’ to solve society’s most important problems. Learn more about how AI at PwC can accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

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by Maria Axente Artificial Intelligence Programme Driver and AI for Good Lead

02 October 2019

Blockchain in the Payments Industry: Digital vs Fiat Currency Part 3

by Aaron Greatbanks Senior Associate, Investment Actuary and UK Blockchain Community Lead

Optimising key industries with blockchain

Blockchain’s characteristics means that it is prime for optimising key, cost sensitive industries.

In the UK, overworked organisations like the NHS could store patient journeys on an automated blockchain. Internal transactions, meanwhile, could be based on a digital currency, as seen from our work done with the South African Reserve Bank. Blockchain, combined with other emerging technologies, could improve the control and sharing of data – from check-ins and check-outs, patient updates, doctors’ output, room utilisation and more – to better manage patient records, cut costs and analyse hospital operations in real time. Applying currently available solutions for identity (see PwC’s Smart Credentials) and supply-chain transparency (see PwC’s Air Trace blockchain offering) to such cases could significantly boost efficiency of both systems and the allocation of investments to improve them.

In pensions, smart ledgers could provide the mechanism to automate most transactions and decision-making processes. A new structure could see key stakeholders and entities participate with each being given the ability to execute necessary tasks. Blockchain could support mutualised central databases, as well as streamlined know-your-customer (KYC) and data reconciliation processes, for significantly improved costs and time efficiency. And tokenised assets and transactions could facilitate quicker, cheaper fund movements, investments and withdrawals – all while also providing transparency and an immutable audit trail. These are the reasons why PwC Hong Kong recently recommended the use of blockchain for pension reform.

It’s little surprise then that a 2018 PwC global blockchain survey of 600 executives from 15 territories found that 84% reported their organisations had at least some involvement with blockchain technology. However, only 15% of those respondents reported live projects. This is typical of the stuttering adoption seen in the market, with regulatory uncertainty, a lack of trust among users and an inability to scale being key concerns expressed by executives.

A blockchain future: What it promises for businesses, governments and individuals

Nonetheless, the future in this space is exciting, and perhaps most exciting of all is how soon it may become reality, with many questions still to be answered.

How will business and private enterprise embrace this technology for payments and as part of wider, cross-industry blockchain platforms? One scenario envisions internal digital currencies being used to pay employees, settle remittances and allow for auditable employee spending with clients.

Or consider applications for governments. How and where will governments use digital currencies, and how do they tax them? We could see integrated systems where birth identity, insurance claims and taxation are all interlinked on a blockchain infrastructure.

Finally, how do we as individuals fit into this? How will the introduction of crypto and digital currencies by businesses and governments affect us? What are the personal use cases and how do we potentially fit into the wider blockchain system? How might our day-to-day lives change? And could we see further personalisation through other technologies such as artificial intelligence used in addition to blockchain?

The forthcoming pieces in this payments series will address these issues and explore scenarios which we may come face-to-face with in the (very) near future.

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by Aaron Greatbanks Senior Associate, Investment Actuary and UK Blockchain Community Lead

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