Workday Joins Sovrin Foundation, a Blockchain Standards Organization

Since our founding, Workday has strived to use the latest technologies to create new possibilities, solve business challenges, and help our customers thrive. That’s why we are pleased to share that Workday has joined the Sovrin Foundation as a Sovrin Steward.

Sovrin is a leader in establishing standards for new blockchain-based technologies, collaborating to create a new framework for establishing digital trust. We sat down recently with Jon Ruggiero, senior vice president at Workday, to talk about digital identity and the important work the Sovrin Foundation is doing.

What does joining the Sovrin Foundation mean?

Jon Ruggiero
Jon Ruggiero

As stewards, we will collaborate with other organizations that have signed on to create, operate, and maintain the foundation’s decentralized digital identity network with a specific focus on use cases surrounding the enterprise.

Workday today is the source of truth for our customers and the backbone of their finance and HR operations. We believe that in the future, digital trust technologies will enable us to solve new problems and build new experiences.

On a slightly more technical level, becoming a Sovrin Steward means we have signed the Provisional Trust Framework, the foundation of the Sovrin Network, as a global public utility for self-sovereign identity. And, we are operating validator nodes of the Sovrin ledger (the nodes that are permitted to write transactions to the ledger). I’d highly recommend learning more in this white paper. In the first few chapters, less technical readers can understand why the idea of self-sovereign identity and digital trust is so important, and then in later chapters the more technically inclined can get an overview of digital architecture.

Why is digital trust so important?

Workday is already trusted by thousands of companies and millions of workers. While the worlds of work and business are changing, the importance of trust will remain. As we consider the technologies that will shape the decades to come through the lens of maintaining and strengthening digital trust and privacy, we are especially excited about the promise of blockchain.

“Distributed collaboration and openness are the central ideas underpinning blockchain.”

We believe that distributed technologies like blockchain should play a central role in maintaining trust—in business processes, between companies, and between employers and workers. These technologies also have the potential to help us reduce friction, create economic opportunity, enable new business models, and empower companies and people in exciting new ways.

You mentioned self-sovereign identity. What is that and why is it important?

First, you must remember that in the physical world, we have a driver’s license or passport to quickly and easily prove our identity—we keep these things under our control and present them as appropriate to do things we choose to do, like drive on public roads or board an airplane. But in the digital world, we have several personally identifiable pieces of information (such as employment verification data and educational background) stored in centralized databases that are often inaccessible to us.

It’s worth quoting part of the white paper I mentioned earlier: “Where is the digital equivalent of a passport, driver’s license, or birth certificate that we can just ‘show’ to a website to register, login, or verify our rights and privileges?”

A self-sovereign identity is a lifetime portable digital identity that does not depend on any central authority and can never be taken away. The Sovrin Foundation is trying to help lay the groundwork for a global public utility for self-sovereign identity that follows the privacy by design principle.

The Sovrin Foundation Self-Sovereign Identity
Standardized digital credentials can enable a worldwide ecosystem of credential issuers, owners, and verifiers all exchanging interoperable verifiable claims as shown in this diagram. Courtesy of the Sovrin Foundation.

Where does blockchain fit into the Workday vision?

While it is very early days, we have been actively researching the possibilities and have envisioned a wide variety of use cases that could create value for the Workday customer community.

What’s clear right now is that the future of technology is open, and we’ve shared our commitment to openness. Distributed collaboration and openness are the central ideas underpinning blockchain. By taking a seat at the table as these technologies begin to take shape, we can use our deep understanding of our customers’ business needs to truly build for the future.

Remember, in 2005, when on-premise applications were the standard, we innovated to transform enterprise software in the cloud. Since then we have continued to harness the latest technologies as they are developed—from those you see, like our mobile applications, to those you don’t, like solving business problems via intelligent automation and the back-end systems that power our cloud infrastructure. As we continue down this path of continuous innovation, in the future, blockchain will become another part of our technology toolkit—providing a new level of trust and integrity to Workday services.