Adobe Digital Dialogue

Adobe Symposium Sydney Recap 2017

Brands that are empow­ered to lever­age cus­tomer data and cre­ative con­tent are at the fore­front of the Expe­ri­ence Busi­ness wave — this was the mes­sage deliv­ered loud and clear from lead­ing brands and indus­try thought lead­ers at Adobe Sym­po­sium 2017 in Syd­ney on May 24.

A record crowd of more than 2000 attend­ed Adobe’s Aus­tralian event, held at Syd­ney Opera House for the first time, where they heard speak­ers from 30 of the country’s lead­ing brands share insights into their own trans­for­ma­tion jour­neys.

Trans­for­ma­tion is all or noth­ing

Do not under­es­ti­mate the amount of sta­mi­na, focus and com­mit­ment required to affect last­ing organ­i­sa­tion­al change. It is noth­ing short of for­mi­da­ble, as both ANZ Bank and Qan­tas can attest.

These icon­ic Aus­tralian com­pa­nies have embraced an ‘all or noth­ing’ approach to dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, and exec­u­tives were keen to share the enor­mi­ty of their respec­tive tasks.

ANZ group exec­u­tive of dig­i­tal bank­ing Maile Carnegie was par­tic­u­lar­ly can­did, list­ing man­agers with out­dat­ed skills as one of the road­blocks typ­i­cal­ly pre­vent­ing 20th Cen­tu­ry com­pa­nies from adopt­ing 21st Cen­tu­ry prac­tices.

Thaw­ing out the frozen mid­dle

“That frozen mid­dle will resist change like death, and it expos­es the fact that they have no skills any­more,” Carnegie said elic­it­ing a spon­ta­neous applause from the keynote audi­ence. “Fig­ur­ing out how to deal with the frozen mid­dle, once you have the boss’ sup­port, is the big thing. If they’re not going to become crafts­men and learn any­more, they need to move on.”

“We think we’re more than an air­line for the coun­try,” Qan­tas CMO Stephanie Tul­ly said. “Our job is to fly the flag of the nation and take it every­where in the world.” Tul­ly dis­cussed the virtues of bring­ing data in-house and how this has enabled the air­line to extend it’s sig­nif­i­cant brand to deliv­er cus­tomer expe­ri­ences across a range of ver­ti­cals.

The morn­ing ses­sion was round­ed out with a talk by Uni­ver­si­ty of West­ern Syd­ney Vice-Pres­i­dent for Peo­ple and Advance­ment Ange­lo Kour­tis. His jour­ney to fun­da­men­tal­ly reshape the university’s prod­ucts, cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and brand led to an emo­tion­al video cam­paign, which lat­er received a num­ber of awards includ­ing the Sil­ver Lion at the Cannes Lions Inter­na­tion­al Fes­ti­val of Cre­ativ­i­ty.

Deng Adut, Lawyer & Refugee Advocate

Deng Adut, Lawyer & Refugee Advo­cate


Refugee lawyer Deng Thi­ak Adut, the for­mer child sol­dier who fea­tures in the award-win­ning video, sur­prised the hushed crowd by appear­ing on stage in the Syd­ney Opera House Con­cert Hall. He spoke with pas­sion about the pow­er of edu­ca­tion to save lives and the vital roles mar­keters can play in spread­ing social mes­sages.

Mak­ing it an Expe­ri­ence

A breath­tak­ing ‘Inter­ac­tive Orches­tra’ cre­at­ed by Accen­ture Inter­ac­tive kicked off the afternoon’s sep­a­rate con­tent streams, with an inno­v­a­tive per­for­mance pow­ered by arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, mobile inter­ac­tion and real-data drawn from Adobe’s Mar­ket­ing Cloud.

Adobe’s Expe­ri­ence Cloud was on everyone’s lips through­out the event, with Adobe’s Pres­i­dent for Asia Pacif­ic Paul Rob­son speak­ing elo­quent­ly to its poten­tial to assist organ­i­sa­tions in the sweep­ing trans­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary to become an expe­ri­ence busi­ness.

Cau­tion­ing against organ­i­sa­tion­al sta­sis, Rob­son said: “There is no lim­it to dri­ving growth and inno­va­tion faster than ever before and there’s no lim­it to the growth of your com­pa­ny and organ­i­sa­tion. Your expe­ri­ence has to be con­sis­tent, it has to be ele­gant and it has to be every­where that your cus­tomer is.”

Adobe’s exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Brad Rencher urged the audi­ence to think holis­ti­cal­ly, nam­ing inte­gra­tion as cru­cial for an expe­ri­ence busi­ness. “You must inte­grate to inno­vate. It’s about com­pa­nies putting cus­tomers first and re-ori­en­tat­ing the entire organ­i­sa­tion­al chart around the cus­tomer jour­ney”

As part of his ‘recipe’ for becom­ing an expe­ri­ence busi­ness, Rencher urged the audi­ence to con­sid­er the con­text of all their cus­tomer inter­ac­tions, then to design for speed and scale so that each of these inter­ac­tions deliv­er the right expe­ri­ence “a mil­lion times to an indi­vid­ual”, he said.

“Mas­ter the mil­lisec­onds because mil­lisec­onds make the jour­ney. Jour­neys only hap­pen if you can win in that 300 mil­lisec­onds from when some­one comes to you and you deliv­er them an expe­ri­ence,” Rencher said.

Demon­strat­ing how Adobe deliv­ers amaz­ing and unique expe­ri­ences, atten­dees were to par­tic­i­pate in a Pho­to­shop acti­va­tion which drama­tised how, in order to put cus­tomers at the cen­tre of expe­ri­ence, organ­i­sa­tions need to iden­ti­fy them as peo­ple and not mere per­sonas.

Inspir­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties

As part of Adobe’s mis­sion to give back to the com­mu­ni­ty, Sym­po­sium atten­dees were invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the Tour de Cure ini­tia­tive and ride — or Tweet — for char­i­ty. While some joined scenic bike tours around Syd­ney, those not wear­ing lycra ped­dled between ses­sions on a set of sta­tion­ary bikes set up amid the cof­fee bars and part­ner dis­plays. Atten­dees made dona­tions for every kilo­me­tre clocked and for every tweet con­tain­ing using spe­cial hash­tags, rais­ing more than $40,000 in total, in con­junc­tion with Accen­ture and West­pac.

Adam Spencer, Comedian

Adam Spencer, Sneaks Host


Comedic math­e­mati­cian and media per­son­al­i­ty Adam Spencer helped demon­strate tan­ta­lis­ing and eclec­tic ‘Sneaks’, an annu­al tra­di­tion which show­cas­es unre­leased Adobe tech­nol­o­gy from its research labs that may or may not make it into appli­ca­tions or ser­vices. As part of this demo, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence con­jured web pages on the fly, replaced the sky in images with a sin­gle click and algo­rith­mi­cal­ly deter­mined the best offers to pro­vide a James Bond stand-in, all to laughs and cheers from the audi­ence.

Sav­ing the best until last

Eric Bana, Actor & Comedian

Eric Bana, Actor & Come­di­an


Just before the cur­tains came down on the event for anoth­er year, Adobe gave the audi­ence a treat in the form of award-win­ning Aus­tralian actor Eric Bana. I had the priv­i­lege of inter­view­ing the down-to-earth Hol­ly­wood star and was blown away by the par­al­lels he was able to draw between his role as a sto­ry­teller, and that played by a mar­keter. It was a fit­ting finale for an incred­i­bly full day, as Bana spoke pas­sion­ate­ly about sto­ry­telling and inspi­ra­tion, beseech­ing the audi­ence to hold noth­ing back and take a gam­ble on their own orig­i­nal­i­ty.

Watch Adobe Sym­po­sium 2017 Keynote and Loc­knote videos on-demand.

Join us for Adobe Expe­ri­ence Forum 2017 com­ing to Thai­land (July 12), Sin­ga­pore (July 25) and Malaysia (August 8) and learn from the world’s lead­ing dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing experts.

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