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Construction company CIO builds a better business with the cloud

Sharon Florentine | Aug. 4, 2014
The CIO of Webcor Builders talks with CIO.com's Sharon Florentine about the cloud, changing older workers' minds, technology cheerleaders and the future of construction.

There's no question the cloud has revolutionized the way global business is done - increasing efficiency, cutting costs and making collaboration simpler, even when customers and partners are half a world away. Vince Sarrubi, CIO of Webcor Builders, talks with CIO.com about changing older workers' minds, finding technology "cheerleaders," and how his company has leveraged cloud technology to take a bricks-and-mortar business to new heights.

CIO.com: Blue-collar industries are typically slower to "modernize" and adopt new technology, but Webcor seems to be ahead of the curve. What were the catalysts for this shift? 

Vince Sarrubi: Blue collar industries tend to focus on completing tasks, meeting deadlines and doing what they know how to do best to minimize time loss. New technologies mean changes to physical work practices, which could mean missing a deadline. These workers live in the physical world and have been manually practicing their art for years. 

There's a mentality of 'head down and nose to the grindstone gets the work done' and 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' However, we're seeing a mindset change, especially in construction. And the change is coming from the onslaught of new college graduates who have embraced technology from their early years in school to get work done. These new workers are early adopters of new ways to produce a higher-quality product in less time with less work.  And, they are more collaborative than older generations, which is likely the result of colleges including more collaborative team exercises into the student's curriculum. Once older workers see a 'greenhorn' — a new construction worker — using technology to manage a job, the older, senior superintendents begin to see the benefits of the technology and start to hop on the wagon. Albeit slowly, their mindset starts to turn. The truth in construction is, if you can get a senior superintendent to adopt a new technology, it is considered a technology win! 

For example, our enterprise adoption of Box grew out of a trial at one job site and just took off, caught fire, adoption-wise. There was a 1970's shampoo commercial where one person told a friend, and that person told two friends and those people told two friends - that's what happened here. All of a sudden, what started as a small group test project grew into almost one hundred Box users within a few weeks!  The match that lit the Box fuse was word-of-mouth employee testimonials within the company. 

CIO.com: How has the construction industry benefitted from leveraging tech like the cloud? 

VS: The cloud has brought collaboration to the collective construction masses.  In the past, there were construction collaboration platforms available for on-line review and real-time collaboration. Unfortunately, the cost of these platforms limited their availability to larger contractors and subcontractors. Cloud technology, and its decreasing cost of entry, has brought low-cost collaboration and electronic document management to companies who could not previously afford cloud's power. 

 

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