Interview with Brian Solis | Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce | International Keynote Speaker

Mr. Brian Solis, the Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce gave AI Time Journal, a captivating and profound interview. He is an 8x best-selling author, international keynote speaker, digital anthropologist. Forbes has called him “one of the more creative and brilliant business minds of our time.”

This article captivates the focused lens of Mr. Brain in reinforcing varied challenges and opportunities for the creative and non-conventional better tomorrow. Also, find out how paramount, Brian’s current role in embracing the people and the globe through technologies.

Notice: Brian Solis will be the keynote speaker at GDS Group’s event “Retail Digital Summit” with his speech “What 2030 Looks Like for Digital & Physical Models: Exploring the Future of Retail Innovation”.


Jagan: Here we go. Being a well-famed keynote speaker at various events how important do you think public speaking plays a vital role in embracing the audience and adapt to the new changes that shape the future?

Brian Solis: Well, if I could just be honest, I don’t think of myself as a public speaker. And if I thought of myself as a public speaker, I would be absolutely terrified every time I went out to speak. I think about what inspires my work, has been an entire career spent challenging convention, finding inefficient ways or processes to challenge myself to be more creative in any given opportunity. I’ve always just been curious.

So that’s at the heart of what inspires my work. It’s when we go to school or university or work, we follow the rules and we’re rewarded by how well we follow those rules, and how well we perform in those conditions. In these times where, innovation, imagination and creativity are another sources, which means originality has to be part of all of that especially at these times of great disruption.

There’s no real benefit to greatness by following the rules at a time where we actually need to break or bend rules. Otherwise, we’re at risk of taking yesterday’s normal and making tomorrow’s opportunity the same thing. And we know that there are companies, thinkers and investors out there who are looking to make the new normal something great. So I say that all of this because that’s what inspires me to speak, to share my experiences, to share my ideas with an audience that is hopefully there to be validated in some way.

Jagan: We know now, we are currently in this pandemic. Where do you see opportunities for businesses to embrace digital transformation in a post COVID scenario?

Brian Solis: People facing me have ideas or that they’ve been curious or that they’ve been held back in their work that they’re there because they’re looking for inspiration or motivation to unlock ideas because they’ve been held or constrained to those rules and conventions in the past.

Okay. Well, I want to make a distinction. I want to help businesses understand that we’re not in a post COVID world yet.

We’re going to be in a COVID world for maybe the next 18 months, and these are definitive months. “Where do you want to be 18 months from now?” The point is to find new ways to use digital.

Brian Solis

So I talk about digital transformation differently. Digital transformation is the investment in digital, but also, new processes, new systems, new models to improve operational excellence that creates new value. So digital transformation itself is transforming the business, not modernizing the business. I don’t call it the new normal. I call it the novel economy, like the novel coronavirus, which means new and unusual. New and unusual means that we don’t have a playbook to operate from best practices or case studies. That’s important because the novel economy is broken into three phases. Phase one is alive. And this is where a lot of businesses operating now towards stabilization, business continuity, investing in digital to improve those efficiencies so that we can scale forward.

Phase two is alive. So we get better at business continuity. We get better at investing in digital to improve those efficiencies at scale, but where companies are going to distinguish themselves moving forward is what I do at this time. How do they feel emotionally? How are they spending their money? How are they not spending their money? How are they interacting through digital channels? What are their preferences and expectations? What do they define as the best in class experiences throughout their journey?

And then, you have phase three, which is thriving. So the more you start to push digital transformation in a way that pushes the organization forward and in also new ways, thrive becomes the mechanism for which then we have a culture of experimentation, empowerment, innovation, so you get essentially, good at multimodal digital transformation, which is one: operational excellence, two: digital business model innovation bound by human-centered design. That means we’re paying attention to how customers, people, employees are changing their expectations, their evolutions, and meeting those needs, and also finding opportunities to deliver new value that they didn’t see before in both capacities. So essentially, the digital transformation itself enables new operating capacities and new business models moving forward with the right leadership and this is what we do in these times with COVID that enable how we cross that 18-month milestone. Are we more innovative or are we just more digital, but a lot of the old same?

Jagan: What I could really get in-depth was, beyond your ideation of doing public speaking, whatever you say now has reflected your passion, and second was on the purpose of you doing this public speaking is well communicated. So, I mean, that is one great thing that every public speaker should possess.

So moving on, can you just walk us through what is your exact role as a global innovation evangelist at Salesforce?

Brian Solis: In my role, I have the opportunity to explore how innovation unfolds around the world in a variety of contexts. I mean, innovation in terms of technology. For example, some of my work today is focusing on artificial intelligence, Blockchain, 5G etc.., but it’s not just looking at those technologies. It’s also looking at how are those technologies going to unlock new opportunities to create new value, which is really a basic definition of innovation. I also have the opportunity to meet the companies, startups, leading thinkers, and apply those new technologies individually or collectively. It is to push forward and explore opportunities where there could be new value, almost like mining, if you will.

Innovation unfolds around the world in a variety of contexts

Brian Solis

It’s an experiment. I work with customers to hear their stories about transformation, especially, in these times of disruption. Yeah, as Global Innovation Evangelists, I’m overwhelmed with incredible stories and incredible people to then tell their stories, but also to inspire my own ideas to share with the world. I write articles, I write books, I speak at conferences. I take those big ideas to customers and inspire them to think differently about their paths forward. Also, the other wonderful part about my job is that there’s the unknown, the things that I still don’t know yet, but have the opportunity to explore. So it’s an incredible role. As a role, I wish I even had more time in the day, so I could do and learn more incredible things that I’m seeing and hearing out there.

Jagan: Yes. Stephen King said, “Books are uniquely portable magic.” So in that perspective, can you just tell us one book or the one author who has created that magical influence on your thoughts?

Brian Solis: Actually, I have many. So this is a hard question to answer, but I’ll tell you that Crossing the Chasm by Jeffrey Moore had a big impact on my work, but I will tell you that the real magic, the real influence in my life has come from Walt Disney. It’s not a book. It’s just a way of thinking.

It’s a way of expression, challenging convention, and finding ways to beat it. That, for me, has unlocked the magic and continues to do so. All of my work in some way, shape or form, usually has a reference to Disney.


To be continued in the next article

Editorial Associate

I strongly believe that People with great passion can make the impossible happen. With interest in technology, I clutch the role of  Technology Business Manager in the IT Industry, and additional roles such as  Executive Magazine Coordinator, Corporate Event Organizer, CXO & Technocrats Interview. My recent initiative in AI Time Journal “AI & IoT Interview Series” is being treated as an insightful session. 

About Jagan G. M.

I strongly believe that People with great passion can make the impossible happen. With interest in technology, I clutch the role of  Technology Business Manager in the IT Industry, and additional roles such as  Executive Magazine Coordinator, Corporate Event Organizer, CXO & Technocrats Interview. My recent initiative in AI Time Journal "AI & IoT Interview Series" is being treated as an insightful session. 

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