The internet is approaching its 30th birthday and those who remember life before the internet know how much of an impact it has made in such a short time.
What started out as a new technology mostly used by geeks has pushed up technology firms to the top – Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent are now seven of the top 10 most valuable public companies in the world.
The internet has made such a profound impact that it is hard to imagine life without it.
But blockchain technology is already showing signs that it will have a bigger and more profound impact, with the construction sector set to be one of the biggest beneficiaries.
All the excitement levels and the millions of investors pouring money into internet start-ups in the mid 1990’s are back again.
This time around investors are speculating more heavily and blockchain start-ups are forming at a faster rate than was seen at the height of the last technology boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Teens and twenty somethings are becoming millionaires at the fastest rate ever seen as several start-ups a week are able to raise millions, the majority without a business plan or working prototype.
The rate of start-up growth is recognition that this new technology, invented in 2009, is able to disrupt business models and public sectors in more profound ways than the internet ever could.
In July, a start-up called ‘Tezos’ raised £200m in a matter of days becoming the largest blockchain start-up so far. Many of the investors were seasoned technology focused venture capitalists that have a track record in spotting disruptive technologies.
Tezos is not an exception, just the largest investment to date. The rate at which start-ups are getting investment is clearly showing that Blockchain technology is about to have a big impact on everyone and practically every business model.
The first industry group to see the threats and the many opportunities has been the financial services sector.
When the internet first arrived, banks and insurers were slow to adopt online technology, but once they did they adopt online technology, they discovered huge savings of efficiencies could be made.
Traditional high street banking has mostly shifted online and many banks and insurers only operate in the virtual world.
To ensure common data standards and to share the risks of using new Blockchain technologies, many of the world’s largest banks have joined into various consortia to try to get ahead of the game.
Practically every sector is investigating the use of Blockchain technology, including shipping, retail, travel, utilities, mining and farming.
In the US, birth certificates are being issued via Blockchains. In the UK, the Land Registry is piloting the replacement of deeds with Blockchain secured digital records. In Dubai, you can bypass passport control if you load your details onto their municipal Blockchain ahead of arrival.
And a sign of how big Blockchains could get, many central banks around the world have started looking at issuing Blockchain backed national currencies.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Blockchain technology could be the construction sector and its inherently fragmented supply chains.
From tracking plant, labour and materials; version tracking of design information; direct international business-to-business payments; securing BIM files; enabling smart cities; communicating with IoT devices; to self-executing smart contracts throughout supply chains.
Almost every aspect of construction processes could be made to operate differently, with greater efficiency and with greater openness on supply chains including supply chain payments.
A beginner’s guide to Blockchains and how they will impact the construction sector are among the topics being discussed at Digital Construction Week, London, 18th-19th October 2017.
The Helium Blockchain Alliance will be working with the Process Innovation Forum to run Blockchains in Construction workshops.
The Helium Blockchain Alliance is a not-for-profit and open source project aimed at creating global data standards for Blockchains in the construction, infrastructure, mining and utilities sectors. This approach is to enable software vendors to integrate with Blockchains and to facilitate interoperability between Blockchains.