"Digital disruption is inevitable"

“Mega-corps” like Amazon and Google have already started to make moves into the construction sector says Chris Emery of Topcon Positioning Group

Chris_Emery, Senior Manager Vertical Construction at Topcon Positioning Group
Chris Emery, Senior Manager Vertical Construction at Topcon Positioning Group

What's your name?

Chris Emery

What’s your current job?

Senior Manager Vertical Construction at Topcon Positioning Group

How long have you held the position?

Four months, I was previously the Business Manager for Structural Health Monitoring at Topcon Positioning Group for four and a half years.

Can you describe your daily work routine?

Highly variable as my role often requires travel for either customer or business development opportunities and if I am not required to travel then I am in my home office following up on appointments or preparing for the next ones.

What is your professional background?

I am a Geologist by degree and before I joined Topcon I spent five years working for a structural health monitoring contractor in the UK and Singapore on major infrastructure projects like Crossrail, Victoria Station Upgrade, Blackfriars Station Upgrade, Singapore Power Asset upgrades.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I have lived in London for 10 years but I am a countryside person at heart, a sports enthusiast is probably putting it too lightly, maybe “obsessed” is the right word.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I have a real passion for maps both old and current and how natural geographies have influenced the growth of civilisation.

You are speaking at the forthcoming 2019 DigiCon Summit in Croke Park, Dublin. What is the focus of your talk?

My talk will introduce a unique new workflow for near real time and continuous construction verification. To help projects detect potential clashes much earlier than in current practices and identify mistakes practically in real time which should reduce the time and cost of rework. The cost of rework is very common on construction projects still to this day.

What in your opinion are the key obstacles for innovation in the sector?

I believe there is a slight disconnect between the very top executives within the construction firms that publicly talk about innovation initiatives that their respective firms are committing to vs the management level 1 or possibly 2 levels down that have divisional and internal P&L responsibilities that result in innovation not being implemented.

I also believe that the skills gap (particularly around digital applications) between the decision makers (low skilled in modern and innovative techniques) and the more junior employees in their workforce (less experience but highly skilled in digital techniques and a more open mind to new technology) also is a key obstacle to overcome.

How do you see the industry being changed by digital disruption over the coming decade?

I believe digital disruption is inevitable, our traditional construction companies currently operate at unsustainably small profit margins that means the adoption of digital technologies and workflows has to happen in order to better there financial performances.

The fact that some of the worlds cash-rich “Mega-corps” like Amazon and Google have already started to make moves into the construction sector underpinned by digital workflows, is almost going to force the hand of the traditional construction companies to change their ways or we will see a global shift towards tech companies creating a construction division and quickly becoming the market leaders.

To join Chris Emery at DigiCon 2019, at Croke Park on June 13th, visitDigitalConstruction.ie for tickets and information.