Updated: Jun 3, 2020
The important questions to ask when deciding what Blockchain training program to select are "what do I need to know to do what I want to do?" and "What program best enables me to learn this in the most efficient manner?"
Areas in Blockchain Professionals Need to Understand
Blockchain is a broad area and covers topics ranging from emerging technologies and distributed architectures to cryptography, from disintermediation to process redesign across multiple organizations, from monetary policy to decentralized finance, from decentralized applications and smart contracts to highly disruptive business models. We cover the hottest areas to focus on here.
The Most Efficient way Professionals can Learn
The most effective training program would be one designed for those who wish to work as senior Blockchain consultants and advisors, as this will cover a broad range of topics which would be of direct importance across multiple functional roles in organizations. It can cater to the needs of in varying roles, such as CEOs and other executives, CIO/CTOs, partners at consulting firms, regulators, privacy and compliance officers, security officers, product managers, project managers, analysts, solutions and enterprise architects, sales and marketing managers, etc. Or, the program can be very specialized for a specific specialty, such as smart contract development.
Our focus here would be the first one that caters to a broad audience of business and technology professionals.
In the comparison of the programs we compared, there are a few important considerations to note.
1. Don't miss out on the commercial value by falling into the "not invented here" trap. The focus here is professionals who are interested in learning about Blockchain in order to apply it in an enterprise and business setting. However, given the importance of financial transactions and value transfer inherent to Blockchain, especially permissionless and public Blockchains; the disruptive business models; and emerging business ecosystems and value chains as in the case of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) – the significance of cryptocurrencies, tokens and digital assets should not be overlooked by any professional wanting to learn and be effective working in the Blockchain industry.
3. Understand how you will influence and manage people and culture change. The most important consideration in terms of success in bringing about a business transformation, whether it is via Blockchain or something else - is people and change management. Does the training actually take into account how you influence, drive and cultivate culture change for adoption of highly disruptive and transformative technologies such as Blockchain? More importantly, how do you actually capture and communicate tangible facets of this change?
4. Leverage the right methodologies and frameworks for organizational change. Blockchain can be highly disruptive to how a business runs today, new processes, new business models, new partner impacts, new regulatory, policy and compliance considerations, new revenue and risk models, new technology and "best practices." In fact a brand new way to look at your transformation strategy. You must know how to devise the strategy for transformation and how Blockchain impacts any existing strategy in place? Strategy cannot be a "one size fits all" approach. Meaning what will work great for a startup will not always work for an incumbent and vice versa. Are tried and tested Methodologies and Frameworks familiar to professionals and enterprises being leveraged? These may include strategy development frameworks such as those used by McKinsey and BCG which include decision tree/answer first hypothesis development, SWOT and PESTEL analysis, prioritization through measurable tools such as weighted average, Lean Business Canvas, etc. Are frameworks familiar to enterprise technology and IT organizations for security, privacy, and enterprise solutions architecture being leveraged?
5. Customer and Partner experiences will be critical to success of any Blockchain Transformation. The power of Blockchain comes from a cross-organization value chain of multiple plays and customers. Are customer-centric approaches such as use of Design Thinking and Customer Experience Journey Mapping being introduced? Do you understand what you will need to do to bring about consensus and govern a multi-organizational Blockchain project?
6. Sometimes being frugal can actually waste more time, money and become an opportunity-cost. While there are several free and low cost (below $50) courses online, they are generally not the most effective and efficient way for professionals to learn. This is for many reasons including the fact that some courses have inherent bias in them as they are subsidized by groups and corporations. The courses may in themselves be fine, but they will restrict the broader spectrum of knowledge you need to be an effective leader and trusted advisor in the Blockchain area. Also, you will generally have to take many disjointed courses from various sources of differing standards and credibility. Given the speed at which this space is evolving, you also do not want to waste your time taking courses that are obsolete.
So, we only cover the premium Blockchain training courses that are ranked amongst the top rated in the world by several independent groups here and those that generally come close to meeting the other considerations listed here.
In terms of the comparison methodology, the standard Harvey Balls are used to indicate a level from Poor to Excellent on a relative scale – meaning the course that is strongest in the topic relative to the others gets the highest rating, and all the others are rated relative to this depending on their relative coverage of the topic. In some cases, none of the courses received the highest rating, this is because we felt that there are still some areas where this topic can either be better covered, or, that the area is changing so quickly, it would not be possible to rate it as strong at this point.
Lastly, we have tried to remove any bias from the rating, by carefully reviewing the programs and cross-correlating, where possible, this secondary research, with first-hand experience observing the level of knowledge of some graduates from these programs in a work or learning environment.
It should be noted, that, to truly compare these programs, one needs to go through each of them, which we obviously have not done. However, all of these programs are top-notch and we welcome input from those that have taken them to further improve our analysis.
The table summarizes some of these findings and further review follows:
MIT Blockchain Technologies, Business Innovation and Applications - is 6 weeks long, it’s online. It covers about 30 - 35% of the topics that are important for seniors Blockchain professionals, consultants and advisors. It covers the Blockchain ecosystem of vendors and key participants and Blockchain technology. The important aspects of tackling double spend in value transfer for transactions and use of permissionless Blockchains such as Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and digital assets are covered. It also covers some topics in AI and Blockchain. Surprisingly, for a course from MIT, it lacks in both the breadth of technology topics and in covering them in meaningful depth. Also, it is weak on coverage of critical factors for enterprise implementations as well as those in most regulated sectors. For instance, it scores poorly on enterprise considerations for Blockchain including use case/application design, solutions architecture, data and privacy design for use with immutable ledgers or where data cannot be stored outside a country for compliance reasons, application and technology architecture, security, scale, etc.
The Cornell Blockchain Essentials is a series of 4 short courses that cover about 35- 40% of the areas Blockchain professionals would be expected to understand well. Its strong point is defintely on the cryptocurrencies and permissionless public Blockchain side. It does a good job at introducing Blockchain technology at a high level, including analyzing a Blockchain protocol and determining which would be best suited for cryptocurrency implementations (i.e., this implies it looks are trust, privacy, consensus, incentives, 51% attacks, etc.). There is also one course on business application of Blockchain with smart contracts and knowing how to identify if your business needs a Blockchain. This program is much more focused on the public/permissionless and cryptocurrency side of Blockchain, with 3 of the 4 courses. It is weaker on the market and business models, strategy, Blockchain vendor ecosystem, the overall solutions architecture and the governance and business model aspects are also not covered well - which are important for enterprises.
The Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme is a 6 week online program that covers about 40 - 45% of the important topics highlighted. It is good in that it provides a Blockchain strategy framework, similar the TransformationWorx program. Its strengths include the Blockchain Strategy Framework, the Blockchain ecosystem, value transfer with bitcoin and permissionless Blockchains and cryptocurrencies. It also has relatively better coverage of DApps and smart contracts. The two cool parts of the course include the module on transformative business models and a discussion on where things are going. The program is weak on enterprise aspects, lacking proper design and solutions architecture, governance, risk management, privacy and security policy, and regulatory compliance.
The Oxford Fintech Programme (not summarized in the table) is likely getting closer to the minimum viable course as far as courses go on this for consultants. It offers an 8-week online course in Blockchain and covers about 60 - 65% of the topics. It addressed the historic Bitcoin and value transfer aspects of cryptocurrencies with bitcoin. It has a good focus on start-up innovators with Blockchain technology, smart contracts, business models and innovation being covered well. It lacks on the overall bringing together of the solution and is generally weaker on some of the critical aspects to enterprise implementations including solution design and architecture, governance, regulation, risk and compliance.
Blockchain technology and Business Strategy course at TransformationWorx that leads to industry professional designation and certification in Blockchain (CIO Association & Institute of Management Consultants). It is offered in multiple formats - online live stream, in-class and offers options for those who have already taken another course or have Blockchain experience to self-study and take the certification exam and get the CIO Certified Blockchain Professional (CCBP) designation. This course covers pretty much most of the important aspects of Blockchain, Tokens, and Cryptocurrencies (90 %+) you need to know for a strong consulting foundation. Plus, for strategy and business leaders, consultants and technology leaders, it provides frameworks, methodologies, handy tools and accelerators for consultants to use in their industry. The “so what” focus of this course is perfectly designed for management and technology consultants and advisors, analysts, C-level and decision makers, business and tech leaders. It covers Blockchain technology, vendor ecosystem, technology, solutions design and architecture, business and governance models, regulatory and policy considerations. By far the best part is the McKinsey/BCG-style management consultant strategy, business plan and use case development framework and toolkit. You can pretty much start practicing right after the course. It does tend to have a lot packed into the course and so it is best suited for people with (non-Blockchain) industry experience that they can leverage in business or technology.
We welcome input from those that have taken some of these programs to further assist in our research.
Get detailed course curriculum and register here.