Empower employees to experiment
Technology is disrupting the way people work. But what about the companies that make disruptive technology? In an interview with Brad Hunstable, CEO of Ustream, a socially fueled communications platform for businesses, we look at how he sees the future of work unfolding.
How does Ustream see work changing or evolving over the next decade?
At Ustream, we’ve been focused on the live video space since day one. Our team has built an incredible platform that powers millions of streams each month. Over the last two years, we’ve seen live video seeping into workplaces, as companies are increasingly using streaming technology as a means for business communications. We’re already in the middle of a massive content marketing bubble, and I believe video will emerge as a leading channel to amplify content and ultimately cut through the clutter. This, in my mind, will become a new focus and area of expertise for many professionals.
On a more macro level, technology innovation is at the highest point we’ve seen in years, and there’s no lack of creativity (or funding!) out there. One thing is for sure: we’ll see things moving very quickly and those that can’t be nimble and adapt will be left behind.
How are you seeing millennials changing the way your people work?
Millennials (and eventually Gen Z) have and will continue to change the way we work. Many of our employees are part of this so-called “Snapchat generation” (according to the Guardian), and they inspire us to be more innovative every day. Three things come to mind for me:
- They place more focus on the big picture, considering the impact they have in the world, not just their day job
- They value individuality, possessing a strong desire to work in a manner that maximizes their abilities and strengths uniquely
- They are candid, passionate, and truly infectious
We can learn from each and every one of them.
How are you seeing technology redefine the workplace?
Technology — particularly in the cloud — is redefining every aspect of the workplace. Cloud technologies are bringing new tools to businesses of all sizes, especially middle and small market companies. They have allowed these businesses to operate in ways only large corporations had access to in years past. Further, new enterprise products have taken the lead of consumer products like the iPhone and Facebook, and they are creating elegant and delightful experiences within the workplace. The old, clunky enterprise products and tools are being replaced by products that are less frustrating and sit across multiple devices. Disruption runs across the board — from expense reports to benefits to file sharing — and ultimately empowers companies of all sizes.
Ustream is an example of workplace disruption. More and more, we are seeing businesses of all sizes harnessing the power of live video for a variety of business communications needs. While some customers use our live video platform to extend the reach of local, on-the-ground events, others have launched products and have even found ways to monetize their content. We’re in the middle of a video marketing surge, and our video solutions have helped broadcasters be more productive and build deeper relationships with their audiences.
What technologies or work culture shifts do you see having the greatest impact on work in the next 5-10 years?
Technology will continue enabling greater productivity and will empower customers like never before. The next generation of cloud technologies for marketing, sales, and productivity will empower employees to achieve greater and faster results. In no particular order, these are some things that we’re sure to see in the next five years:
- The Internet of Things: Smartphones, wearables and other disruptive forms of technology will continue to disrupt entire industries (or create new ones). We will find new ways to optimize and digitize our daily lives, and we’ll have a plethora of data to keep improving. Imagine “smart desks,” which optimize sitting and standing to improve employee health, to new wearables that monitor health vitals of employees working in more dangerous environments.
- BYOD will be commonplace, and companies will utilize new technologies to ensure corporate control and security. The “work-issue” device will become more scarce, as employers look to provide more personalized resources for employees.
- Mobile will drive innovation, as employees won’t settle for mobile-optimized any longer.
How do companies need to prepare for the changing workplace?
Companies will thrive in this changing environment not only by improving the products they sell to their customers but by innovating everything in the workplace. True innovation starts from within, and they should embrace cloud technologies that make employees more effective, nimble, and mobile. It’s important to empower employees to experiment with new technologies in the cloud or workplace, so they can stay cutting edge.
I also strongly believe in the importance of being a mission-driven company. While it’s obviously important to make a profit and drive repeat sales, today’s generation wants to work for a great cause. It needs to mean something.
Brad Hunstable is founder and CEO of Ustream. He originally founded the company to connect military service members to family and friends across the world. Since then the company has established itself as a socially fueled communications platform for businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals to share experiences in real-time.