Unlocking new business model for evening cohorts

Blockchain could become an important part of the economy in the next few years.

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

Think about how much life has changed in the last 30 years.

Today, you don't think anything of accessing Amazon on your cellphone, shopping for that perfect sweater for Uncle Joe and having it on his doorstep in a few days.

Dr. Randy Gibb

Could you have done that in the 1980s?


Amazon wasn't founded until 1994. Now it’s the world’s largest online retailer, with annual sales of $61 billion.

But is it here to stay in exactly this form? Is there another way to do those transactions?

The answers, given how fast the world is changing, are probably not and most definitely yes.

Students in the Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University have been learning about a new way to do business, called Blockchain, that could revolutionize how you buy and sell and travel and access all sorts of other services.

Simply put, Blockchain is a distributed system that records and stores transaction records. It is a way to have peer-to-peer transactions, first made famous by Bitcoin, the new currency created in 2009 that eliminates transaction fees by making them direct – no Amazon or bank or any other “middle man.”

Why should students know about this? Because if they’re going to be doing business in a few years, they certainly should know how business might be done in a few years.

“We don’t want to be stuck in the 1980s. We want to be moving forward to 2025 and 2030,” said Dr. Randy Gibb, the CCOB dean.

Keep your eye on the puck

The lessons are being taught by Niraj Kohli, an evening cohort instructor for graduate students. “It’s not where the puck is today; it’s where the puck is moving,” he told a recent cohort gathering in the CCOB lecture hall.

Kohli knows all about growth – he said that when he arrived in the United States from India in 1979, all he had was $50. Now he teaches, consults and invests in capital markets.

Niraj Kohli

He views the Blockchain market as one worth investing in – both in learning about it and taking advantage of it. After all, Kohli points out, the phones we all carry around have more power than what it took to send a spaceship to the moon nearly a half-century ago. Why not use that power in a new way? He believes that Blockchain could be as transformative in a digital economy as the internet was in the 1990s.

“Moving from the internet era, it is about digitization of the workplace,” he said. “The new business models and economic models are coming. Students need to view what they are doing, what degree they are earning and how they will apply it to the workforce.”

Blockchain got its name because of the way it links the various pieces of a transaction. Whoever you do business with is considered a “block,” and because everyone is connected and has a security code and the blocks are all linked together, they are considered to be a “chain.” Here’s a more detailed explanation of how it works.

“What does Amazon provide? The facility,” Kohli explained to the students in one of his talks. “If you can find a cheaper way to do it, there is an opportunity. Be the value creator.”

The obvious question is security, but Kohli said, “It is more secure because it is distributed, because there is not a centralized place that somebody can hack. Everybody basically gets the key and they kind of self-monitor.

“In this particular case, you have smaller blocks of information that have a security code. Anybody who tries to modify it, they have to have permission from the various people who are monitoring it.”

Massive savings

Kohli predicts that Blockchain technology could save banks more than $20 billion a year in costs and could revolutionize the way the average urban city looks downtown.

The latter could have happened without Blockchain – as Uber moves toward the driverless car, the need for parking garages would be greatly reduced. But as Blockchain technology advances, would you even need to access Uber to get one of those cars? Could you go directly to another source?

The technology also applies to health care and hospitality services such as Airbnb. At the very least, it will be interesting to see how it evolves – for both businesses and consumers.

Blockchain also fits with CCOB’s emphasis on Conscious Capitalism, which is all about doing what is best for many, not just for the business.

“When you think about Amazon, who’s the biggest beneficiary?” Kohli said, quickly naming its founder, Jeff Bezos.

“Now, you’ve got to give him credit. He did that. But at what cost? Malls going out of business – how does that impact society?”

Kohli said there already are more than a thousand companies that are using the platform. There figure to be many, many more, and students could find themselves working for one – or working with one, either in business or as a consumer.

But it won’t be the only way they’ll do business. Kohli emphasized that Blockchain isn’t the only answer but is simply a new one that they must understand, especially if they someday are starting a new business.

“I try not to get them too psyched to the point where they think that is the answer and it is all they focus on,” he said.

It’s coming, just as so many things have come (and sometimes gone) in the last 30 years. Some, like the mullet, won’t be missed. But others, like Blockchain, have a look that’s all business, and the party is just getting started.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


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Bible Verse

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

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