Connecting Humans

Connecting Humans

In June, we travelled to Chicago to attend an event hosted by our sister agency Solstice. The theme of the Solstice FWD2018 event was ‘being human’ which really resonated with our current thinking. 

Although we work for a global digital agency, we spend most of our time talking about humans. It makes sense really: we’re always trying to reach humans and provide them with an advantage. You can’t build a brand without people and, until we’re replaced by robots, our agency is a connected network of humans who design, build, manage, deliver, strategise, create and innovate to (hopefully) achieve great things.


Being human. Being ready.

It was a very rainy ‘summer’ solstice day, when we came together to celebrate the power of humans and technology and how we can combine the two to make a truly winning formula.

Things got off to a great start as we were given an umbrella whilst a monsoon hit Chicago, and a personal walk into the building was a true delight. This human touch really set the tone.

We were then treated to a day of beyond the stage demos, showcasing how technology can give brands, staff, customers and partners a ‘connected experience’ by using technology such as AI, AR, VR and BlockChain.

The key take out was that you need to be bold and brave to embrace this technology. However, if that technology is designed with the correct controls in place and for the right reason, you can connect to your customers in amazing ways. This is the now and next!


The tech you need to know about…


From the moment we were handed an event pass, our every move was tracked via Blockchain technology. You could replay your activity and see your Blockchain data visualisation grow as the day progressed. As Solstice stated, ‘Imagine a distributed Blockchain to help navigate the global food supply chain, targeting a salmonella outbreak instantly and precisely.’

blockchain at FWD


This personalised networking experience was another insightful demo, combining computer vision and sentiment analysis (as you watch a series of preselected film snippets to promote a reaction). Combined with a review of your company’s tweets, your persona type was defined and matched you with three other likeminded delegates at the event. Voila, a free list of people to connect with!


 Ever booked a meeting room, walked in and found it still full of people from the previous meeting? Embarrassing and disruptive right? The Solstice Buenos Aires team set out to help people ‘see through walls!’. This demo combined Augmented Reality with custom built 3D objects that live in 2D space. And it’s working as planned in real life.


Listening to people

Technology aside, what did we learn about being human?

Kelly on stage

Kelly Manthey, the CEO of Solstice, talked about being brave, having courage and championing change no matter the difficulties or naysayers in your organisation. She said we needed to be authentic, real and remember that relationships are the key to building a business.

We also learned that the only way we can prompt change is to be dissatisfied. Hunt it, dream it, but don’t wait for it. Many of us struggle with change which was brought home visually with the ‘Reversed steering bike’ where the handle bar mechanism switched (when you turned the bike right, it went left!). An unassuming member of the audience tried to ride across the stage and it showed how it takes practice to change an already programmed mind-set. But with practice, resistance and resilience - it can be done!

on a bike at FWD

Our very own J Schwan, CDO St Ives Group, highlighted the power of ‘Connectedness’ –telling the story of our group transformation plan and how we are creating a new structure ready for growth called the connected customer experience. J also encouraged us to have courage, be brave, create energy, take risks, champion change and throw out the status quo.

J Schwan on stage at FWD

Back to humans

The Solstice event highlighted how transformation of people is key to the growth of any company. You should take care of their mind-set, be responsible for the change and then support it. Lead from above. Management is the heartbeat of the corporate culture and they should create a safe environment for change.

Being human means we understand that, when we create connected customer experiences, we are responsible for the effect they may have on our audience.

Being human is a powerful tool, and the tools we create will only make us stronger but can also make us more vulnerable. So be prepared, challenge adversity and never give up thinking about the now and next. Push the boundaries of your imaginations and make the impossible possible.

Above all, the human connections we make are at the heart of all our business decisions, so put time and effort into making great connections, support them and make them meaningful. Treat your connections like family, then watch your family grow.

FWD logo on stage

To watch the highlights from FWD2018, take a look at Solstice's Youtube channel. For further info on the event or if you’d like to register to speak at FWD UK then please get in touch.