As part of our Future of Work Series we have reached out to experts on change currently going on in the workplace. We recently caught up with Albert Song and Matt Glueckert of Industrial Color. They are the creators of LightTable, which we recently featured, and GLOBALedit, which helps global creative teams manage their media and workflow. We asked them about how technology is changing how we can work seamlessly with global teams.
Where do you see the future of work headed?
Matt Glueckert: We see a lot of changes happening right now. The change of structure of the workday, the way that people are bringing tools, all different types of tools, together and the pace of this evolution. Then the real big challenge is how do you make those things work together. It’s just this huge convergence right now of old and new, of analog and digital. For us, it’s particularly exciting because not only do we do that on so many different levels here, internally, but also the people that we work with.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Albert Song: It’s interesting, because the vocabulary for how people have been working has been built up in the past couple of years through the iPad. People are already familiar with the gestures. When people jump to something like the light table, they are not confused by how it is supposed to work. The vocabulary and the way of working has already been engrained in them. It has become so ubiquitous.
The LightTable really evolved out of the questions, “What if we can do this? What if we can work in this way, especially in a creative atmosphere?” Working in front of a workstation and a big screen, it’s one way of working. But it doesn’t really lend itself to the way that Creatives have liked to work.”
If you’ve ever seen a traditional light table. That’s what people are used to. They want a stack of images. They want a stack of slides and transparencies. They want to work with them in a really physical way. That’s extremely efficient in its own right.
We gained some efficiencies with all the data. Individuals can process a lot more data. We lost that physical aspect to it, that communication and collaboration was lacking, but this is really cool because it’s bringing that back. When people come to it, it’s very natural. It’s intuitive. People just get it.
How is the cloud changing workplace technology?
Albert: There’s so many cloud‑based solutions, so many SAAS systems that you don’t have to be an IT administrator. Someone else is taking care of it for you, you can just focus on work that you need to do and that’s something that we’ve been able to excel at, really understanding the mindset of creating production. Because we live and breathe it all the time.
So creating a product that really suits their needs, does all the project management work. It’s fast. It’s simple. People can just get work done, that’s the beauty of it.
Matt: Creatives tend to be very tactile learners, people who like to be hands on. I know, for me, that’s how I’ve been since I was young. I just needed to have my hands on my camera or to touch things.
For us, for a LightTable, for our products we built our cloud before it was a cloud. We located it in this space, in this building, because of the connectivity. We hired very intelligent people to build incredible architecture so that people can access their data, put it out from the beach in Barbados and somebody back in Columbus, Ohio can access that at the same time and they can do it at high speed.
I think, for us, it’s as much about making tools that are intuitive as it is about making them powerful and efficient. The nature of our business is that Creatives can have a different tolerance level and range of tools.
But they also have an expectation that things be fast and efficient. Those are really two very difficult things to put together. But that has helped us shape the business.
How is technology changing the way people work?
Albert: One trend that I have been hearing in a lot of conversations with clients is that, in some of our client’s workspaces they are used to a very analog, physical way of working. They will actually print out contact sheets and they’ll have the china marker. They’ll start circling their selects. It’s old school. They actually want to skip over working on a laptop and go straight to their iPad. They’re going from this very old, traditional way of working to, “Give me an iPad app.” That’s just the trend that we are seeing all over the place.
People are working so much more in a distributed, on the go sort of way. It’s not that you go into the office and you do your work and you leave, but you want to be able to access your data and do your work from anywhere you want. They want to work in these very mobile ways, with lots of different tools, we’re seeing this even in the larger companies that we work with. How do people want to work? They want to work in a certain way and we have to be able to be accommodating to those ways.
I think the thing that is truly disruptive is when we make products that just make sense to people, that don’t cause the headaches and the frustrations, and they’re easy to use. When the iPhone came out, that blew everything out of the water. You can’t make a phone that isn’t iPhone‑like anymore. It just looks like you’re going backwards.
There are so many startups right now creating all these web systems that are really easy to use. They’re nice to look at. They’re fun to use. I think there’s going to be more and more of a clash, especially in businesses and enterprise software where these clunky, really hard to use systems, people are going to get fed up with even more and more.
That’s just not how people want to work. That’s not how people want to interact with the systems. It should be seamless as much as possible.
When you start to bring in this consumer way of thinking about product development, where it has to be easy; otherwise, it’s going to be rejected immediately. It has to be functional right off the bat. Bringing that into the enterprise, that’s where we’re going with things.
It’s been a successful way of working for us, where once you hop on our system it’s like, “Oh, I get this. I’m used to working with tools like this. It makes sense.” In order for businesses to survive, you just have to make tools that make sense to the average person.
Thanks Albert & Matt!
If you’re looking for more trends, innovative ideas or themes changing the Future of Work, check out our full report for sale here or join us for our Social Media Week discussion with leading experts and industry innovators on Feb 20th. More information here.
For more exclusive PSFK Labs’ ideas, watch the summary presentation and see everything that you’ve missed so far here. Feel free to join the conversation and share your ideas about the future of work with the #FoW hashtag on Twitter.