AiThority Interview with John Bishop, CEO at Librestream
Hi John, please tell us about your role at Librestream and how you arrived here.
I’m the President and CEO of Librestream; we are the pioneer of and #1-rated provider of augmented remote expert technology. Our Onsight platform transforms companies’ workforces by empowering their workers and customers with immediate access to the content, people, smart data, and guidance needed to inspect and solve issues quickly.
Deployed in over 120 countries, Onsight is built for workers to collaborate virtually and access expertise/knowledge even while in the world’s toughest environments. The challenges of bringing transformational technologies, products and services that unlock meaningful value to a global market has always and continues to excite me.
My career has been focused on enabling disruption at scale by leading transformation initiatives that create massive global effect. The last 10 years I was focused on transitioning early-stage disruptive technologies in media and entertainment to the $2 trillion global marketplace, helping move from the sandbox where the technologies were important in smaller circles, to the global marketplace impacting a huge audience. Most recently I was CTO at Akamai Technologies focused on innovating and delivering the necessary high-performing infrastructure to support the global requirements of delivering fast, secure and high-quality media experiences over the public internet. Before that I held leadership roles with Cisco Systems, Inlet Technologies and Osprey Technologies in product management, business development, general management, and strategy.
I joined Librestream’s Board of Directors in 2011 with confidence in the core technology and people and a belief that there is long-term transformation potential. Over the years, Librestream continued to build and define the use cases and market of what we now refer to as remote collaboration solutions. By 2018, it was clear that the market Librestream pioneered was transitioning from incubation to early scale. I joined the company at the beginning of 2019 to accelerate our growth, extend our market-leading position and scale the value of our solutions globally.
Today, when compared to the transformative technologies I helped lead within the media landscape, I see an equally large, if not larger, disruption opportunity for Librestream. Industry 4.0 initiatives are focused on digitizing factory and facility areas, but severely miss the mark on modernizing and transforming the workforces of the future at scale. Onsight delivers measurable business outcomes including worker safety and productivity, cost savings, reduced emissions, asset uptime gains, and improved customer service delivery. These are exciting times.
What has been your journey like in the last 6-8 months? How did your initial experience as a market leader help to overcome the pandemic crisis staring at your business opportunities?
Librestream’s focus since its formation in 2003 is always on remote work and remote workforces. This solution category was primed for growth with the travel restrictions and worker safety concerns resulting from the pandemic. However, enabling deskless workers to remotely diagnose, inspect and troubleshoot assets with greater efficiency, consistency and safety is a value set that resonates across markets anytime, not just in a pandemic.
As a market leader, our well-established and proven foundation with global customers enables us to grow our leadership position in these unique times.
Executive-level roles from the board room, throughout IT and into operations are now aware of the value and the need for our technology to maintain business continuity. This top-down awareness drove scale from deployments within single lines of business to the entire workforce.
Companies that were “on the sidelines” developing workforce resiliency and transformation plans were thrust from contemplation into deployment this year. Our leadership, experience and knowledge provided the trust and confidence to scale and do so quickly. What’s emerged from increased usage of our solution across our customers is an increase in value unlocked. We’ve seen our customers gain triple-digit productivity, unlock millions to tens of millions in cost savings, and maintain business continuity in both remote and connected environments. The coalescence of this value provides stability to our customers’ revenue streams, which total trillions of dollars.
2020 wasn’t the year our technology grew up or the year it was used globally. 2020 is the year where our technology went from being important in pockets of global businesses to critical across all businesses. This scale is evident when we look at the platform usage growth. From 2015-2019 the compound annual growth rate was roughly 300%. In 2020, we’ve seen further exponential growth, bringing that number to 700% increase in usage.
A unique investment we made in direct response to the pandemic was a program we called Business Continuity. This program provided a quick start, no cost, zero barrier to entry jump into our Onsight product. We saw hundreds of companies utilize this program to get started transforming their workforces. More importantly, we saw usage scale with deployments and new value unlocked within their businesses.
Tell us more about Onsight’s “Work from Home” technology stack and how you stay on top of your game.
Onsight is the most comprehensive AR enterprise software on the market, and we continue to expand our offerings. Our tech stack is a comprehensive blend of artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, augmented reality, collaboration and connectivity elements enabling diverse workforces and use cases across a multitude of industry verticals. We find that one size doesn’t fit all and that comprehension is a requirement to unlock meaningful transformational value.
The rate of innovation is increasing across every technology dimension including: artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), IoT, augmented reality (AR), connectivity and collaboration. As our customers scale and hone their workforce transformation efforts, the need for increased innovation becomes a requirement. Commitment to our customers is a cultural cornerstone at Librestream and we appreciate the continued partnership with them to continue to unlock new value, scale existing value and further differentiate Librestream’s leading solutions.
Our solution is not just for those that are temporarily inconvenienced and working from home. Our solution empowers the remote worker, the frontline worker, the deskless worker. As previously mentioned, Librestream was founded to enable remote collaboration, and we continually build on and expand our offerings to meet the needs of the companies we serve. Our customers on the Forbes 2000 list have annual revenues of $3.2 trillion; they rely on us as a core tenet of their digital transformation processes.
Our platform includes remote expert assistance, digital work instructions, knowledge base capabilities, and specialized thermal and IoT inspection accessories. These come together to form a robust solution that includes the ability to:
– Effectively distribute knowledge and empower decisions across the workforce with access to the people, data, and information needed
– Reduce cognitive load with AI capabilities such as automatic object recognition and content retrieval, sensor data integration and live translation
– Transform paper-based processes into step-by-step digital work instructions and digital forms for consistent, safe, and accurate performance
– Enable capture of data, live video, HD photos, and thermal imaging to build a smart knowledge base for future training and machine learning models
– Select the device that fits the use case – from wearables to mobile devices, computers, and inspection test instruments
– Unlock transformational business value outcomes (safety, cost avoidance, etc.)
What is the real mission-vision-objective of Onsight and how it augments service teams?
Simply put, our vision is to transform workforces to enable greater resiliency, business continuity and drive more impactful business outcomes. Technologies such as IoT, AR, AI, ML and wearables are transforming workforces to work safer, more efficiently, with greater consistency, and providing the opportunity to learn new skills. For the enterprise, this workforce transformation is creating strong business outcomes and unlocking new value creation opportunities.
According to a report on the deskless workforce, 80% of the global working population do not complete their jobs from behind a desk—that’s 2.7 billion people. Our solution is about continuity for those deskless workers, whether it be during a pandemic or not.
Our vision of an AI Connected Expert brings the power of AI to the industrial worker and workforces of the future. Our view is that AI complements the worker and creates greater gains for the worker and the enterprise; this is a different viewpoint from many AI applications where AI is be positioned as a human replacement technology.
We’ve established that our Onsight platform transforms the workforce; our AI is a step function change to that transformation. Onsight powers the AI Connected Expert by capturing, monitoring, and analyzing data, identifying issues before they happen, finding the right technician, identifying location, required tools and steps, and providing workers with data-informed, just-in-time training at the site. Onsight AI continually learns and adjusts based on new data that it collects.
This data collection is critical, as without it, it’s difficult for companies to determine how to improve operations. Onsight integrates into the entire data ecosystem, further empowering workers.
IoT data and dashboards are traditionally available in command center operations and are not often easily accessible to workers when they are in the field. In most cases, field teams need to contact these groups to request IoT data and view this data through pictures or screen sharing. Onsight enables this valuable data to be available to workers when and where they need it. The ability to securely access this critical information in the field informs independent work, improves worker safety, and accelerates decisions.
What are the key developments in the last 6-8 months that make augmented reality workplace solutions a viable option for enterprises and SMBs?
For many, the pandemic was a springboard to find solutions to enable business continuity amidst COVID-19 travel and social restrictions. Many traditional processes employed when COVID-19 hit were simply not an option. AR workplace solutions have played a starring role in not only helping companies survive during this time, but in setting the stage for greater efficiencies, resiliency, and growth opportunities in the future.
The biggest change is the top-down executive push within larger enterprises to extend the value of remote collaboration and AR throughout the entire workforce.
Transitioning from a digital optional to a digital first mandate has allowed organizations to scale the value of the solution while also opening up ideation for new use cases unlocking additional benefits and value from using the platform.
What kind of research do you undertake to solve challenges in enterprise workplace automation projects? How are these challenges different from other Cloud/Virtualization environments?
Solutions around AI, AR, ML, IoT are in the early deployments at scale; this early phase puts a heavy emphasis on experience and partnering. We work closely with our customers to create, evaluate and scale digital transformation solutions based on best practices. Education and training have become core elements of our engagement beyond the platform. Our roadmap is guided by the needs of our customers. We pride ourselves on a partnership approach that enables us to collaborate with customers and understand the ever-evolving needs within their business and the market to deliver transformative value.
Workforce transformation at scale is the focus. Optimizing that transformation is a long journey. The process begins with getting workers connected and collaborating in Onsight; this requires leadership support and alignment across the enterprise. As we connect more workers, we unlock greater business value while also surfacing more use cases and data about the business.
Tell us more about your partnership or arrangements with Siemens Energy? How does your solution enable an energy management company?
Siemens Energy is both a customer and a partner with Librestream. Siemens Energy selected the Librestream Onsight augmented reality platform for its Connected Worker solution. The partnership with Librestream enables Siemens Energy to directly offer the Connected Worker solution to its customer base and deploy across their thousands of field service workers and external contractors.
Using the Connected Worker solution, teams can remotely inspect, diagnose, and maintain equipment such as industrial steam and gas turbines, onshore and offshore oil and gas platforms and plant instrumentation and controls. Benefits include faster resolution time, increased productivity and worker safety, and higher uptime for customers.
Siemens Energy sought a solution partner with deep experience in remote collaboration, a comprehensive platform that transforms the efficiency and safety of the workforce, and data-driven to power future insights and optimizations. Additionally, Siemens Energy required a solution able to immediately deliver access to remote experts and content no matter the location, within strict security environments (Librestream’s security protocols are the highest in the industry, even meeting the security requirements of the US military, one of the most exhaustive security protocols of any company in the world).
Your predictions on BYOD and enterprise wearables and the top industries / applications that are influenced by these applications –
We live in an age where choice is everywhere and expected. BYOD is all about choice. This element of choice helps foster usage within a digital environment. We often see in BYOD environments usage per worker is higher due to familiarity with the hardware device.
From Librestream’s perspective, usage and propagation of digital tools is the key to unlocking transformation value. We support the broadest range of devices from mobile smartphones to tablets, to computers to wearables. We believe it’s akin to the old adage of “using the right tool for the right job” and comfort and familiarity play a role into that decision
Onsight, at its core, was designed to be multi-platform optimized. We see usage of a variety of device types—from tablets, to smartphones to wearables—based on different industries and use cases. Today, the dominant amount of usage remains with non-wearable devices, and we don’t envision that changing in the short-to-medium term. Wearables are great and sometimes necessary for hands-free use cases, but they also add additional cost, introduce a new learning curve and become another device to manage. We look at wearables beyond just glasses and we believe there is tremendous potential for earpod and watch like devices to complement the common mobile and tablet usage.
As end user familiarity increases in the consumer world, it will influence the enterprise world as well; today, there is not a major consumer lead in AR glasses, and until the larger consumer electronic companies make a major investment in that area, I’m not sure it will change quickly.
BYOD allows for familiarity to be leveraged with the worker. Installation of Onsight is a familiar process through an app store and usage is consistent with how they expect the device and software to work together. Power management is another benefit of BYOD and non-wearable devices. We’ve all seen our batteries drain on our devices and had to borrow power from a friend or co-worker. This is significantly easier with BYOD versus a specialized device with a unique power charging option.
There is substantial room for growth on the hardware wearable side and that change will happen over time. Regardless of wearables, the software needs to work across all devices and follow the worker from their phone to a tablet to a wearable. Onsight will be there regardless of the device type for seamless handoff experiences.
Thank you, John! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
John Bishop is a President and CEO at Librestream Technologies Inc.
Librestream develops digital transformation technology that improves service operations within the industrial sector. Deployed globally, the Onsight augmented reality service platform empowers workers to rapidly diagnose, inspect, and manage assets in even the most difficult field environments.
The Onsight platform provides the right tool for every field environment – from the Onsight Cube, Onsight Connect remote expert guidance and Onsight Flow digital work instructions software on mobile devices, wearables or computers, to Onsight Workspace a specialized content solution for industrial teams. Built for enterprise, Onsight meets stringent security, network, and infrastructure requirements.
Designed to withstand difficult environments and provide high quality video with minimal bandwidth, the Onsight Augmented Reality Service Platform is safe, secure, and always reliable.