Our Vision to Digitize Credentials in the New World of Work

Credentialing is an HR process in dire need of an update. Today, Workday announced our vision to build the world’s most advanced network of verified credentials, powered by a new blockchain-based digital credentialing platform.

Today, we’re excited to share a sneak peek into a project that will help our customers and their employees better navigate the new world of work.

When we set out on this project, we looked at the enterprise landscape and saw a number of trends that created an opportunity for Workday to do what we do best—innovate to help our customers move forward. The workforce is evolving, user expectations around privacy are growing, and new technologies like blockchain are becoming mature. At the intersection of these trends, Workday is setting out to build the world’s most advanced network of verified credentials, powered by a new blockchain-based digital credentialing platform.

First, what are credentials, and why are they so important? Credentials can represent lots of different types of data—skills, capabilities, degrees, professional certifications, completed learning courses, work experience, and more. They represent critical information about a person: we need them to get jobs, to prove who we are, what we can do, and to access new work opportunities.

But there’s a problem with credentials. While the world of work has been transformed by technology, credentials haven’t changed much—today, they’re still largely offline and paper based, and verifying a credential often requires a lot of manual effort and time. With our new platform, Workday wants to change that by bringing credentials into the digital age.

This week, we began alpha testing this new blockchain-powered credentialing technology with attendees at Workday Altitude, our partner and services conference. This is the start of an exciting new journey for Workday and our customers, so let’s take a deeper look at the key trends I mentioned earlier and why we believe Workday and our credentialing platform is uniquely suited to help solve them.

New Workforce Demands

Credentialing is an HR process in dire need of an update—the current verification process is manual, and it can take weeks to recruit and onboard workers. We’ve heard from customers that they need a faster, more efficient way to verify skills and industry certifications, ensuring that workers are properly credentialed and in compliance.

At the same time, there are changes in the workforce itself. It’s evolving to be more mobile, distributed, and diverse with different types of workers—contractors, gig workers, salaried, and hourly—and virtual team members are common in any global organization. All the while, organizations are facing talent shortages, and any friction in hiring or sourcing can mean costly delays in onboarding or losing good talent.

With our new platform, Workday wants to bring credentials into the digital age.

So how is Workday equipped to help our customers manage this with digital credentialing? Simply put, it’s a natural progression because of our system architecture and massive data set.

Workday is our customers’ core system of record for HR, and has already digitized processes for recruiting, onboarding, learning, and compliance for a community of more than 39 million workers, including 40 percent of Fortune 500 organizations. Within that is a massive set of data we’ve processed for customers—including over 100 million credentials, 70 million job applications, as well as employment records, salary history, certifications, training records, skills, licenses, and more. And for customers that opt in to our machine learning-driven skills cloud, a universal skills ontology that enables us to identify and classify skills, we could enhance data even further to verify skills.

New Privacy Expectations

The digital world is also evolving in terms of privacy. Partially in response to highly-publicized cases of consumer data misuse, there’s been increasing concern over how personal information is managed and exchanged. As a result, there’s more demand for technologies capable of ensuring individual privacy, and people expect more control over their digital information.

Privacy protections have been a fundamental component of Workday from the very beginning, and Workday is trusted by our customers as a steward of some of their most sensitive data. We’ve specifically architected our digital credentials platform, combining blockchain with our strong privacy protections, to extend this trust to users, helping them gain greater control. Users will have control over with whom they share credentials, and organizations will have confidence in the credentials’ authenticity.

New Technologies and an Open Mindset

New technologies like blockchain, along with advancements in mobile security, have enabled Workday to imagine a new form of digital credential—one that puts individuals in control of their data, and is portable, authentic, and secure. As credentials are issued by organizations and educational institutions, held by individuals, and shared with employers or prospective employers that need to verify them, blockchain provides a common trust layer, allowing each of these parties to independently verify their authenticity. As the common source of verification, blockchain enables data to move between parties, and its distributed ledger can prove that the data has not been modified and the credentials are still valid. This kind of credential creates a transparent, trustworthy, and reliable source of truth that is instantly authentic once shared.

We are also taking this blockchain application one step further with our approach to openness. Technology is most powerful when it’s open and interoperable, and this is especially the case with blockchain. From the start of this project, open standards have been a core part of our vision. Workday is actively engaged with organizations like W3C and the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) to ensure that credentials are compatible with other standards-based platforms. Developing our platform with open standards will enable the growth of a credentialing ecosystem, adding more value and opening up additional use cases for our customers and their employees over time.

A New Way—Digital Credentialing in Practice

So, how does this play out in the world of work? Let’s look at one healthcare scenario:

A nurse pursuing a new job typically updates their resume or fills out a job application, manually inputting credentials. After submitting, they may face a waiting period of a few weeks as the prospective employer verifies each and every license, certification, and work experience. Even after getting the job, ongoing verification is still needed to ensure compliance—often requiring additional verification checks by the employer, annually, to ensure standards have been met and the license is still active. If the nurse falls out of compliance, it can lead to steep penalties for the employer, and unproductive time for that nurse.

As we look to the future, we envision a more frictionless credentialing process that looks a little like this: Using a trusted professional profile containing verified credentials, that same nurse could digitally apply for a new job, with their credentials being verified at the point of application. And, with education and licensing credentials being automatically updated over time, any additional proof regarding renewal or certification is already confirmed, eliminating the need for the employer to manually check a database or call the board for validation. The nurse’s credentials would act as the single source of truth: trusted, up-to-date, and instantly authentic.

This is just one example of how we believe digital credentials will transform the work and talent landscape in the future, which is why we couldn’t be more excited to kick off the initial round of platform testing with our services team and partners at Workday Altitude. We are eager to hear their feedback and suggestions, and look forward to sharing more news later in 2019.

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