Rob Leon, Chief Innovation Officer, STOBG

Written by Rob Leon, Chief Innovation Officer at STO Building Group

When we think of “innovation,” we tend to think of ideation sessions with colorful stickers or “Hack-a-thon” type events. But innovation is much more. It’s a state of mind—a strategic approach to planning—and it happens every day at STO Building Group.

An important role of STOBG’s Innovation team is exploring cutting-edge technologies and processes to provide our project teams with the best-in-class solutions to expand client services and become more efficient and productive. But we’re also looking inside our organization for better ways to build. The greatest impact we can make within the organization is to look at our ongoing operations as an opportunity to be more efficient and productive across all departments—from project execution to the support teams. Streamlining the touch points between cross-functional teams and breaking down the siloed approach will yield incredible benefits.

For example, we’re harnessing STOBG’s vast and diverse project data to help us become more analytical, predictive, and ultimately even more valuable partners for our clients. The data we have and continuously collect is one of our biggest assets. Few construction firms do the volume of projects across multiple sectors and geographies as we do. It is paramount that the data we input is accurate and clean as we use it to create models that will help us become more analytical and predictive which, in turn, reduces our risk and increases our potential to be more efficient and effective.

As a network of over 4,700 employees, we already have some of the best innovators right here in our family of builders. As new technologies emerge, we have the team to evaluate, test, and implement on a micro level or at enterprise scale. Discovering the best tech tools for the right applications—solving for client and user challenges—is what we have been doing for decades. We are in a unique time in our industry in that a multitude of microsolutions are now available, with more released every day. The key is to allow for exploration into these new tools while following the proper protocols to do so responsibility
so that we don’t put our organization or our clients at risk.

With this expertise and opportunity to explore backing everything we do, we have immense potential for great ideas—and now we’ve built the engine to gather them and put them into action. Our Innovation Engine at STOBG is a platform for anyone in the company to submit an innovative idea with just a few inputs. Our team of IT, data, operations, and innovation leaders then reviews it and recommends next steps. When an idea is selected as a pilot
project, the submitter is invited to help bring it from proof of concept all the way through implementation.

Take, for example, our recent uses of layout robots, like Rugged Robotics, Dusty Robot, and others. We have piloted these robots on different types of jobsites, from large interior fit-outs to ground-up buildings. Through these pilots, we’ve been able to work with these companies on ease of use and compatibility with our processes and systems, ultimately shaving up to several weeks from project schedules.

Construction layout robot on a jobsite

We’ve said it before, but this really is such an exciting time to be in construction. Our industry has embraced change, technology is evolving at breakneck speed, and we’re poised for some incredible breakthroughs. The engine is revving, and we’re excited to be leading this journey.