From the Desk of the CEO: The Beginner's Mind

In lieu of making yet another personal resolution, this year I’m embracing a Buddhist philosophy championed by many of my favorite people, including Marc Benioff and the late Steve Jobs: the beginner’s mind. 

Ten years ago, I started my Solstice journey. This January, when I humbly accepted my new post as CEO, I made a promise to myself: bring fresh eyes and a beginner's mindset to every situation. To help our clients achieve their goals, we need to lean on the strong foundation and core values our founder and former CEO J Schwan instilled, but we must never rest on our laurels or lose our curiosity.

At the start of 2018, our clients are delivering on all the hallmarks of transformation: They’re redesigning collaborative office spaces, going all-in on modern software engineering techniques to increase the speed at which they can deliver technology, making digital part of their DNA by building labs where innovation runs free, replacing the “project” mindset with a “product” mindset, and building up their own digital organizations internally while leveraging partners for velocity, capacity, and outside thinking.

2017 marked the year that companies put culture at the center of their transformation agenda.

Digital Transformation in 2018

When it comes to breaking ground on the second and third acts of digital transformation, we hear from our clients every day that they too are working hard to maintain a beginner's mindset throughout their organizations.

A couple of areas we believe will fuel transformations in the coming year include building the next generation of augmented intelligence (AI)-powered conversational user experiences and accelerating cloud adoption.

With the rapid emergence of Amazon’s Alexa, 2017 was affectionately dubbed the “year of the conversational POC” as firms worked to adapt a new way of thinking. “What’s the equivalent of a wireframe when it comes to mocking up a conversation? And, when will these flip from novelty to necessity?” were just a few prominent questions. Through the use of advanced AI technologies, conversations will become more meaningful and digital tasks will be much more significant.

We’re also excited and encouraged to see the pace at which our clients are moving to embrace cloud technologies and next-generation software development principals, including Continuous Delivery and DevOps. Companies like Pivotal and its enterprise cloud platform, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, are enabling F500 enterprises to adopt a cloud mindset and meet the speed demands that today's environment requires.

Solstice: What's News

Internally, I’m excited to say our teams wasted no time making waves in 2018: Our annual trends report was released last month and the firm made two big announcements.

First, J Schwan was promoted to chief digital officer of our parent company, St. Ives. In his role as CDO, J moved to London to directly oversee a portfolio of St. Ives’ digital businesses including Solstice, Amaze, Realise, TAB, and Branded3. He will focus on cross-pollinating the unique capabilities and best practices across these firms. If interested, you can read more about the leadership updates here.

Second, we officially announced the launch of our AI practice January 30.

Much in the same fashion web and mobile reshaped our entire way of life over the last 20 years, so too will this latest generation of AI-powered technologies. With each new wave of change, we benchmark our excitement at Solstice not simply in what the emerging technology can do, but in the value and ROI it can deliver.

Solstice will focus on three key AI areas: intelligent experiences, cognitive decisioning and reasoning, and intelligent process automation.

More than the next shiny object, AI is a key innovation that will build on the digital foundation our clients have fostered for the previous two decades. Helping our clients harness value from the next digital innovation is in our DNA — it’s what we’ve been doing since the dawn of the internet. This next frontier will be no different. If you’re curious, you can find more details on the practice area here.

As we note in one of our nine key trends for the year, “Sacred Cows Are Sent to Slaughter,” 2018 will be a year in which we will question the unquestionable. Firms looking for growth in challenging environments will find themselves increasingly questioning long-held assumptions.

There’s no better way to achieve this goal than through the beginner's mindset.

Ride the wave,
Kelly