Out with the old, in with the new; such a mantra has been as tried and true in the world of technology since the first digital files were created. In this day and age of new technology, construction professionals are in constant search of more efficient ways to carry out inefficient processes. In some cases, that alternative can be in the form of an app.

Take the age-old FTP, for example. File transfer protocol has been embedded in the business world for quite some time now as a means for efficiently transferring files from one host to another. But in today’s always on, connected world the FTP just doesn’t seem so cutting edge.

Webcor, www.webcor.com, San Mateo, Calif., in particular, decided to do something about it a few years back. As described by Vince Sarubbi, CTO (chief technology officer), Webcor, “It was on an old creaky server (and) we needed to get rid of that old creaky server … and I literally just wanted an FTP replacement.”

Quite simply, the company was doing document versioning and management in house using Microsoft Windows Server and others for basic versioning of documents online. Just as he describes, Sarubbi fully intended to simply upgrade to a new FTP site until he came across technology from Box, www.box.com, San Francisco, Calif. Technology from Box allows users to store all content online, allowing them to access, manage, and share it from any location. Integrating Box with applications like Google Apps and salesforce.com, for example, is another advantage, as is the ability to access Box using mobile devices.

“We just needed about 50 licenses; just enough to get our feet wet and make us happy,” recalls Sarubbi. “But then it caught on like wildfire internally. We went from 50-75 users up to over 200 users today; it has become our new de facto standard for doing document management, project collaboration, document versioning, as well as integrating it with our other internal applications and even some applications out in the field.”

So what sold Sarubbi on using Box? After all, apps are everywhere these days and for a large contractor like Webcor making a sudden move to an app in replacement of FTP was quite a bold statement. But, according to Sarubbi, when it comes to using apps, just like with any piece of technology, it all comes down to doing the proper due diligence.

“We look at every app that comes into the organization—but we make sure we look at what is applicable to what we are doing here; is it saving money? Is it making us more productive? Or can we use it as a strategy angle looking at new clients? There is a million different ways to look at it,” he says.

And it’s not as if it becomes a competitive advantage for very long. He adds, “Every other competitor has it within the first two months, so it’s not really a big deal. The big deal comes when I can say I can take all this extra work off my people internally, make it easy, I can put it out in the cloud so I don’t have to go buy servers and increase my staff to administer those servers. I just want easy and simple, that’s the first step.”

The second step, he adds, is to look at the data-integration aspect. Can you take what’s out in the cloud and integrate it somehow with the internal systems? While most companies would like to have a single source of the truth, it can be hard to attain. More often than not, there are data silos.

An app like Box, says Sarubbi, is “semi-siloed” but they are looking to integrate it into the company ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.

He says, “I would need everything eventually at the end of the day to feed back into one master system and if it doesn’t I push that app off the plate. If I can’t discover it then I can’t bring everything together in discovery and pull six, seven, or eight piles of data and make it understandable.”

As with any piece of technology, putting together the complete data picture with apps will take time.