Adobe Symposium Sydney Recap 2017

Digital MarketingEvents

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ANZ group executive of digital banking Maile Carnegie was particularly candid, listing managers with outdated skills as one of the roadblocks typically preventing 20th Century companies from adopting 21st Century practices.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

Digital Marketing, Events

Posted on 06-06-2017

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