The CEO of Autodesk has described some of the most significant issues being faced in the construction industry, and he reiterated his belief that blockchain technology holds the solution to many of these issues, The Australian Financial Review reports.
The construction sector is one that has been riddled with cases of corruption in recent years. The increased embezzlement of funds, as well as a desire for people to work without necessarily having their activities- or transactions- tracked, have caused constant friction between players in the industry.
However, for Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost, the application of blockchain technology and its implementation in the sector can curb these corrupt practices and usher in an era of accountability and transparency.
Autodesk is one of the largest producers of design software, and the company has been serving the construction, engineering and architectural industries or years. Speaking at the 2018 Autodesk University event in Las Vegas, Anagnost addressed the reason why Autodesk has yet to consider the integration of blockchain into its Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Collection. He said his company had considered it but they “don’t have a point of view” that is known to the public.
The AEC Suite, which consists of some of Autodesk’s flagship products (including Revit and AutoCAD) has gone through various phases of development over the years, and it has been responsible for helping to improve data and project information dissemination between collaborators on projects via cloud services.
The products under the AEC suite have seen increased adoption due to their practical nature and ease of application. For Anagnost, the next step will involve the use of blockchain technology to develop the culture of trust and transparency that the construction industry is in need of.
“What is blockchain good at? It’s a distributed, trusted ledger that cannot be altered and allows traceability and accountability. A technology like that in an environment like construction where various people involved in the process don’t trust each other is going to find some kind of application.”
The construction industry has also been rife with issues of embezzlement.
“When people are paying hundreds of millions of dollars on large projects, something is always happening somewhere that isn’t quite right. There’s always someone bleeding off resources or money in some inappropriate way,” Anagnost explained.
Based on some of his on-site experiences with construction workers, Anagnost said that there is much favoritism going on, and transparency is disrupted when familiarity is allowed to get in the way of work.
“They take pictures, and I notice they don’t always log the issue. So, when I ask, why didn’t you log that one? I know that guy, I’ll go let him know about it. So the familiar subcontractor doesn’t get their issues log. However, the unfamiliar subcontractor gets logged.”
With the use of blockchain technology, construction processes related to logging and quality control can be optimized. Anagnost believes that blockchain’s greatest value to the construction industry is its ability to deliver a greater degree of trust and traceability, especially in an ecosystem where trust is a scarce trait.
Smart contracts have been particularly touted as an integral part of bringing some form of transparency to the management of construction projects. Suppliers can directly request their payment based on the services or goods provided, which will reduce the need for intermediaries (who have been known to cause delays and lapses in transaction handling).
Anagnost also mentioned that his company is currently working on a form of non-blockchain digital escrow services, which can also help to improve the development of trust in the sector.