On June 21 more than 500 enterprise executives and digital leaders from across the globe explored the intersection of humanity and technology at our third annual digital innovation summit, Solstice FWD.
Themed “Being Human,” FWD featured rapid-fire talks from an all-star lineup of industry experts, authors, and journalists alongside best-in-class emerging tech experiences born out of Solstice Labs.
From learning to ride a backwards bike to breaking down organizational silos to enable digital transformation, let’s rewind and revisit the best of Solstice FWD 2018.
To kick off the theme of FWD 2018, our CEO Kelly Manthey explored how the more human technology becomes, the closer it brings us together along our digital transformation journeys. But what happens if, or when, the humans who created technology simply can’t keep up? Who’s really in control? Keynote speaker, Laurie Segall, Senior Technology Correspondent at CNN, urged attendees to see technology through the lens of the human condition and heed the lessons learned from tech titans like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. James Barrat, filmmaker and renowned author, tackled a similar ethical dilemma with his haunting yet provocative take on the societal implications of artificial intelligence.
With technology moving at an alarming speed, creating a lasting human connection is harder than ever before. With so many distractions, how can successful businesses continue to engage their customers and differentiate themselves among the pack? For Ben Newell, VP of Products at rewardStyle, word of mouth was key; but for Jen Wachtel, SVP of Marketing for Gallagher, the strategy lied on using technology to enhance the personal, not substitute for it. Whichever the approach, the message is clear: timeless ideas meet cutting-edge technologies, a new playbook for consumer and buyer engagement is born.
Truly successful and innovative businesses are run by those who strive for the impossible and remain determined despite personal or professional setbacks. As the first female wheelchair athlete to complete the Ironman World Championship, Minda Dentler inspired attendees to move beyond the fear of failure and have the courage to overcome any obstacle. Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, J Schwan, founder of Solstice and CEO at parent company St Ives, challenged attendees to remain discontent, break down silos, and put human connection back at the center of business. His talk ended with a surprise performance by Musicality, a Chicago-based youth choir, who sang their rendition of “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”
Digital transformation has never been one-size-fits-all, nor will it ever be, and there is no playbook or set path to follow. Like learning to ride a backwards bike, adopting an organization mindset of change is simple, but not easy. Citibank’s Richard Wright chronicled his own transformation campaign, where he ignited a culture of change within his organization that created a momentum all of its own. For Steve Fradkin, President of Wealth Management at Northern Trust, his transformation story didn’t look at all as one would expect. Instead, it focused on small, incremental improvements. The lesson? True digital transformation does not require a ping-pong table or a complete dismissal of traditional methods but instead shifting the focus back to the people who are the ultimate drivers of change.
It’s the responsibility of innovative organizations to make a concerted effort to not only include, but also listen to, the people innovations affect. Todd Connor of Bunker Labs and Marie Trzupek Lynch of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future pushed those in the audience to think not how they innovate, but with whom. It’s this focus on people that John Deere’s Julian Sanchez and Brunswick’s David Foulkes also lauded as a key element to digital transformation. Organizations that understand the importance of creating a winning culture are already ahead of those that put tactics before people. Of course, it’s not just what happens within an enterprise that can champion diversity and social growth. Reena Jana and Divya Tyam took a similar inclusive approach, sharing how they’re developing Google’s narrative on bridging the great digital divide with ML.
The blockchain is as complicated, misunderstood and powerfully compelling as any emerging technology that currently exists. It’s no longer sufficient to merely explain the technical nuances and intricacies, the time has come for you to experience them. Built on the Ethereum backbone, FWD attendees participated in one of the first human blockchain experiments in history. Interactions and exchanges were recorded on the FWD ledger and the “future of trust in a trustless world” was on full display.
Designed to showcase the art of the possible with augmented intelligence (AI) and the future of personalization, BrAInwave interprets unique elements of your own humanity to create a personalized networking experience. By creatively weaving together best-in-class technologies, including computer vision and text sentiment analysis, the FWD team is able to uniquely predict and recommend three like-minded individuals for you to connect with.
Augmented and virtual reality technologies hold massive implications for the future of humanity, but we believe the greatest impact will actually be had in the mixed reality realm. From training surgeons in the most remote parts of the world to creating more collaborative shopping experiences for physical goods, the only limitation will be our imagination. In a world in which hardware costs are decreasing and computer processing ramps up, FLWR applies design thinking to the latest in mixed reality technologies.
It’s no longer hyperbolic to state that technology is quickly creating a sixth sense in all of us. Google Translate’s ability to read foreign language signs and their Pixel buds realtime ability to translate conversations are two powerfully evident examples that how we interact, communicate with and navigate our physical environments is quickly morphing before our very eyes. The Visionary experience at FWD leveraged readily accessible augmented reality technologies to solve some of the challenges that Solsties experience around the office everyday.
Our roster of thought leaders from the enterprise, startup, and academic domains engaged in rapid-fire, TED-style talks that not only explored our connection to the digital world but grounded us in a common truth: humanity.
MARK ARDITO Divisional VP, Digital Delivery HCSC
JAMES BARRAT Filmmaker, Speaker & Author
CHRIS BURNS Senior AI/ML Solution ArchitectAmazon Web Services Amazon Web Services
TODD CONNOR CEO & Founder Bunker Labs
MINDA DENTLER Athlete & Inspirational Speaker, as seen on TED.com
DAVID M. FOULKES President & CTO Brunswick Marine Consumer Solutions
STEVEN L. FRADKIN President, Wealth Management Northern Trust
PAUL HECKEL VP, Customer Experience Solstice
SCOTT HERMES Director, Solution Delivery Solstice
REENA JANA Head of Product Inclusion Google
MIKE KOLENO VP, Technology, & CTO, Cloud Practice Solstice
LEWIS LANCASTER Director, IoT, & Client Engagement Solstice
MARIE TRZUPEK LYNCH CEO & President Director, IoT, & Client Engagement
KELLY MANTHEY CEO Solstice
ROBERT MILES Head of Technical Architecture & Development Modernization, Asset & Wealth Management JPMorgan Chase
NINVEH NEUMAN VP, Global Marketing & Digital Business Transformation Rockwell Automation
BEN NEWELL VP, Products rewardStyle
J SCHWAN CEO St Ives Group
JULIAN SANCHEZ Director John Deere Technology Innovation Center
LAURIE SEGALL Technology Correspondent & Host of "Mostly Human" CNNMoney
DIVYA TYAM Software Engineer Google Research & Machine Learning
JEN WACHTEL SVP, Digital Marketing Strategy Gallagher
JAMES WATTERS SVP, Strategy Pivotal
RICHARD WRIGHT Managing Director, Global Digital Transformation Citi
Ignacio (Nacho) Brik