By Kitt Doucette, Contributing Editor at Men’s Journal Magazine
Spark Discussion and Insight
Tom Waller, the SVP of Whitespace (Innovation and R&D) at Lululemon, is here. So is Chris Duffey, the head of AI Innovation & Strategy at Adobe. They’re part of a group that also includes thought and workplace culture leaders from Nike, Paramount Pictures, Intel and Wacom along with an assortment of high-level analysts, technology think tank and commercial real estate professionals. The goal? To share ideas that spark discussion and insight about how the workplace is changing and what needs to happen to make it better. Addressing questions like, has the over-use of technology impacted our quality of work? And, how important are the human element and team building to innovation? Finally, how can we work together to solve these problems in an increasingly digital and virtual workplace?
The group is small enough that, by the end of the three days, we all know each other’s first names, along with their respective partners. A few even brought their kids. The family-friendly vibe takes a page out of Allen & Company’s famed Sun Valley Conference’s book and succeeds in keeping the gathering light-hearted and comfortable with none of the awkwardness that purely professional conferences can sometimes have.
After the morning paddleboard session and a light breakfast of tropical fruit and delicious local Kona coffee the presentations begin. While each speaker sheds light on different aspects of the workplace’s future, the subtle star of the show is how they’re giving the presentations. Standing at the front of the room, two giant Dell touch screens equipped with Bluescape transform into a dynamic 21st-century version of the traditional whiteboard. Presenters draw on them using a stylus pen or their fingers. They upload and display their presentations, videos, and documents while working in any number of software platforms. Most importantly, they can share and collaborate in real time anywhere in the world.
Every presentation for the entire conference is kept in the same space, or on the same board. Swiping and finger commands allow users to zoom in and out, change slides and navigate around the workspace as if it were a giant ocean and each document, presentation or freehand jam is an island. Connected yet separate. This is the magic of Bluescape’s proprietary technology and why some of the most forward-thinking and creative brands in the world are starting to embrace it.
“Bluescape is essentially a container,” Demian Entrekin, Bluescape’s Chief Technology Officer, explains, “Our main goal is to defragment the communication systems that currently cause so much inefficiency in the growing virtual workplace by providing a visual and spatial digital workspace to collaborate within.”
Bluescape does this by getting rid of the outdated file cabinet system, where identical icons with similar titles must be established and then constantly sifted through to find and store data…also called files. Which then must be uploaded, sent and downloaded over and over again. The confusion and inefficiency expand quickly when working in shared digital spaces. How many times have we asked ourselves, what file did I put that in? Or flat-out forget what we named it? Now we also need to know what John from marketing in New York named the file where the document with the images that Jackie from design in California needs to adjust for Jane from production in Hong Kong.
This rat’s nest of inefficiency along with the advent of the cloud has led to a boom in work sharing applications and technologies. Platforms like Slack, Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Blue Jeans, Asana, ClientHub, RingCentral, etc., all aim to solve these problems with varying degrees of success. None are compatible with each other. So inevitably more questions and delays ensue. What platform are we using for this meeting? Wait. Jill from sourcing in South America needs to download that one. Hold on. Jack from materials in Vancouver doesn’t have the latest version. Sometimes whole departments are using one app while management works with a frazzled IT officer to implement another one that nobody else has heard of.
Bluescape turns this rabbit hole of time sucks into the Starship Enterprise and makes the user feel like Captain Kirk. Able to point in any direction, say something cool like warp speed and…engage, before being jettisoned to any planet or location in the entire galaxy. Not to mention the transporter, able to beam down to the surface of any particular planet or ship by standing in a shaft of psychedelic light and saying…energize.
Read Kitt’s conclusion to Future of Work, Part 3 here
Download the entire Future of Work white paper here