Blockchain and BIM: 2. Use and economy

This is the second part of a series of articles about Blockchain and BIM. If you haven’t read the first part yet, you can do so here.

Now that I’m already working in BIM, should I dive into deploying/hiring a Blockchain-based solution?

Christina Morillo’s photo

Obviously, it depends… Let’s try to be a bit more specific by answering some questions you should ask yourself.

What outcome do you expect to achieve? 

Before choosing the tools, let’s think about what we’re going to do with them, shall we?

Defining objectives, scope, feasibility, and the involved parties is essential before considering the use of a new technology, especially if you intend to implement it on active operations.

What does Blockchain bring to your organization/processes that another solution doesn’t?

We often get blinded by wanting to use the most “cutting-edge” technology, probably with the intention of gaining some media attention (totally viable if your goal is purely a commercial stunt). And we forget that solutions already available in the market have a track record that validates their operation and can meet our needs (probably) in a more economical and realistic way.

What is the differential contribution? Is it really the “key point” for what I need, or just a nice coat of paint? If this is not clear, we may end up over-complicating processes without any tangible gain and have to rethink the solution in a short period of time.

Do you have any specific reason for not using a centralized system?

You may not want to depend on proprietary services, intermediaries, or third parties. If information control, process independence, and traceability are important for your product and/or company, Blockchain can be the ideal solution.

Of course, as a result, more control always implies more responsibility.

What information are you willing to share?

The AECO sector often lacks transparency and communication. The transparency that Blockchain provides can be a double-edged sword. It’s possible that we want to share certain data with only one part of the stakeholders, or that we have doubts about whether access to too much information might be overwhelming and/or somehow too compromising for the other parties. If things are done right, this shouldn’t present any inconvenience, but it’s worth mentioning.

Blockchain Do you have the cooperation of all involved parties?

If a system is geared towards collaboration but not all key parties are involved with it, it quickly loses its value.

To illustrate this, let me tell you an anecdote… If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember the “war” between Nintendo and Sega that plagued schoolyards in the early 90s. In my case, I decided to join “Team Mario” and buy a “Super Nintendo” without thinking beyond my personal desires. Something that soon proved to be a significant mistake because all my classmates had opted for “The Sega.” This completely isolated me from conversations and game exchanges during recess. It was a year full of helplessness until the following Christmas when, without hesitation, I joined the majority and forgot about Nintendo for a while.

I paid twice (well, in this case, it was the Three Wise Men who footed the bill) and lost a year playing the same game over and over, something that could have easily been avoided by surveying my surroundings a bit.

Despite everything, I still maintain that the “Nintendo” was technologically superior, but history has shown us several times that it’s not always the most advanced that wins, but rather the one that best meets the user’s needs.

Disruptive technologies suffer greatly in closed and slow-moving environments. Being an “early adopter” can be a tremendously frustrating challenge if we’re not used to experimentation.

Do you have any idea of the investment required and what return I can obtain?

Searching for information about Blockchain implementations in the production phase, I have been alarmingly surprised by the lack of data on prices and economic results.

Considering that much of the literature is filled with hypothetical cases or news of early implementations similar to this one where the conclusions are limited to mentioning that the technology had a positive impact on the sale of chickens and grapefruits.

How can we predict the cost then?

It depends on the particular use and volume of each project. It’s likely that we’re not yet at a mature enough point, and there are still public samples missing to propose something more than generalizations about budgets and returns. If you have an internal development team, they could formulate a study based on cost per flow – cost per network and compare it with the expense generated by the current solution. If it cannot be done internally, the figure of technological consultancy emerges as a vital ally.

To be continued in the next post: “Blockchain and BIM: 3. Integration”

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