Accenture, Cognizant, Deloitte and Synechron support top blockchain consortium

25 April 2018 6 min. read

Leading consultancies have thrown their support behind the world’s largest open source Blockchain consortium. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) now counts Deloitte, Accenture, Cognizant and Synechron among its rapidly expanding membership.

In signing up to the EEA charter, the heavy hitters of the professional services industry join a motley crew of actors from the technology, banking, academic and finance worlds. Microsoft, JP Morgan, BP and Santander are among the household names on the 300-strong list, sitting alongside relative minnows and dark horses from the emerging tech world.

What unites them is a deep interest in learning about the promising Blockchain technologies that are set to radically transform the digital world as we know it. With the advance of the new digital era as mysterious as it is inevitable, consultancies cannot afford to be one step off the pace. Clients, especially in the IT and finance sectors, now expect complete fluency in all things Blockchain to complement their consultant’s strategic and operational edge.

Blockchain is the technology that enables Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency to exist in a secure, open, and anonymous space. It is simplest described as a decentralised software mechanism that permits a master ledger of digital currency transactions to take root. Blockchain solutions are already being deployed across a global marketplace in the grip of dramatic change. By pursuing excellence in the Bitcoin sphere, consultancies are literally — and metaphorically — following the money.

EEA plans order amid Blockchain disruption

Founded in 2017, the EEA bills itself as member-led, with the explicit collective goal of establishing Ethereum Blockchain technology as an open standard across all industries. It enjoyed rapid growth as more than 150 consultancies, startups, and Fortune 500 companies signed up within the first seven months. In early 2018 the EEA appointed Ron Resnick as its first executive director. Occupying senior positions during a ten-year spell at Intel, Resnick was instrumental in the rollout of 4G wireless broadband as president of the WiMAX Forum.

Another name to watch out for is Julio Faura, chairman of the EEA board and head of Santander’s Blockchain R&D unit, who, in an early press release, said the non-profit’s “rapid growth in membership mirrors the accelerating acceptance and deployment of Ethereum Blockchain solutions in the global marketplace”.

“The technological breadth, depth and variety of organisations coming together under the auspices of EEA to create and drive enterprise Ethereum standards bodes well for the future development of the next-generation Ethereum ecosystem," he added.

Calling all consultants

The enthusiasm displayed by Deloitte and Accenture in adopting EEA membership is especially relevant given the careful prudence large consultancies have exhibited in advising clients on their dealings with Blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Last year also marked the first time the Big Four began advising on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), an online crowdfunding mechanism whereby investors accept ‘tokens’ in exchange for their support.

Given the radically unsettled regulatory picture, the Big Four remain wary, dipping their toes in the water while holding onto the handrail. US regulators are sending mixed messages about whether they will accept or reject the cryptocurrency revolution. China and Russia are proactively cracking down on ICOs.

Partners of Enterprise Ethereum Alliance

Caught between client demand and restless regulations, it is little surprise that consulting firms would welcome the creation of a Blockchain alliance dedicated to establishing order in a chaotic realm.

Synechron CEO Faisal Husain confirmed this when the global consulting firm became one of the first to join the EEA. With its specialist focus in providing digital solutions to clients in the financial services sector, Synechron has developed substantial experience with Blockchain, Husain said. But the firm recognises that banks and other clients cannot fully embrace the new technology without an identifiable system in place.

“The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance is doing important work to bring Ethereum from its public origins to a permissioned Blockchain platform that can handle the heightened security requirements of industries like financial services,” he said.

“As part of the EEA, we expect to contribute to this effort through open source code contribution and by sharing our insights from building working Blockchain applications. This will all help to address issues like security, privacy, scalability, and interoperability critical for Blockchain’s long-term success in financial services."

EEA membership affords consultancies the opportunity to become decision-makers and influencers in a world where most actors play catch-up, chasing the latest development until some new disruption slams the door in their face.

Underlining this, Deloitte Consulting Principal Eric Piscini, said ,“We've done projects on Hyperledger and ethereum for a long time. What's new to us is we want to be part of those organisations and structure. We want to drive some of the activities in the consortium."

Hyperledger is a similar Blockchain consortium, created by the Linux Foundation in 2015 to establish cross-industry collaboration and improve Blockchain systems so that they can support the global transaction demands of leading corporations. In announcing Deloitte’s membership of Hyperledger and the EEA, Piscini acknowledged that the professional services firm had been working closely with both prior to formalising their relationships.

Accenture’s membership of the EEA comes as no surprise. The leading management consultancy has a deep strategic, digital and technology knowledge base. Alongside Microsoft, the Dublin-incorporated firm is a founding member of ID2020, a project committed to helping establish digital identities for one billion people around the globe.

Working with both Microsoft and IT consultancy Avanade, Accenture is developing Blockchain technology that will help establish secure identities for the estimated one-sixth of the human population who cannot prove they are who they say they are. While Synechron hopes the EEA can bring stability and order to Blockchain-based global transactions, Accenture has its eyes on the transformative potential of Blockchain from a people perspective.

As a preeminent digital consulting firm, Cognizant has long been one step ahead of the competition in the sphere of disruptive IT technology. In June 2017 the American professional services firm released its whitepaper “Financial Services: Building Blockchain One Block at a Time”. In it Cognizant revealed that it had already helped a commercial bank use Ethereum to transfer deeds with no middleman. Concluding that Blockchain was a ‘game-changer’ for financial services, the report surveyed 1,500 executives, finding that 91% were convinced Blockchain would prove critical to their firm’s future.