It’s time again for the Australian Digital Summit hosted by Telstra, and it’s hard to believe a whole year has passed!

Here at Telstra, a lot has happened in digital in that year, including launching our Digital First program and opening the Telstra Digital Transformation Centre in Sydney (to name a few!).

I’m delighted again to be live blogging again from the event this year. Follow my updates below.

Today we explore the idea that the world is rapidly moving toward a complete digital takeover — or at least digitally enabled. You would have experienced it — hey, you can barely get me off my mobile! The two worlds, the digital and the physical, are converging, and business’ have to stay innovative if they want to succeed.

9:00 am

We are off and running with an introduction from Telstra Digital Director, Monty Hamilton. The hashtag is #TelstraSummit if you want to follow tweets from inside the event.

9:10 am

Our CEO David Thodey joins us onstage, and says he believes digital and technology is driving some incredible changes. It’s an exciting time and the relationship between customers and businesses is changing.

9:20 am

Businesses like Telstra need to change and adopt technologies to help serve customers better.

Everything in Telstra needs to be digital through changing the culture of the business. People have power, and we need to learn from what they saying on social media. Business models are changing thanks to companies like Tesla and the way they approach patents — check out Tesla’s patent wall!

“It’s about how you adapt technology to what you do,” says David.For example, we have over 40,000 employees on Yammer and it is changing the way we communicate in a very real and tangible way, much like external social networks are changing how people approach business’.


“Digital is not separate and it’s not optional,” says David.

We often say here at Telstra that the customer needs to be at the centre of everything we do, and David says digital can help drive that. Digital should help customers do things and interact with us more easily — and this is a lesson all business’ can take!

In Australia, we need to use our collective wisdom to adapt to this change. Change impacts all industries and we need to grab at the opportunity for all.

His last message? “Don’t be satisfied… change.”

9:30 am

Brian Solis joins David on stage for Q&A and opens with a daunting question;”What is Telstra doing to secure it’s future for the next 120 years?”

David says that Telstra’s goal is about enabling people to have a “better connected life.” A brilliant connected future anyone?

9:35 am

Brian comments that many big businesses have struggled to change and innovate, asking, “How does Telstra ensure it continues to change from the inside out?”

David says, “Telstra’s number one business strategy is customer advocacy. It’s that focus helps create a culture and values that focus on change”.

Trusting people in a company is important and looking after people in your company is important too. If you look after your people well then they can look after customers well.

9:45 am

David Thodey says that you need to “find your courage” (one of our values).

Brian feels like Telstra is not just a technology company, but is human, and an inspiration. Yay us!


Joe Fernandez from Klout is up next and shares that he became obsessed with social media after he had his jaw wired shut in 2008 and could it was the only way he could communicate. It was at this time he quit his job and moved to Singapore to build Klout. This first version involved Joe running an algorithm over an excel spreadsheet.

“Everyone has influence and Klout wants to understand what everyone has influence in.”

I refrain from asking why I once was “influential” about birds.

10:00 am

Joe tells a great story or two:

  1. He ‘hijacked’ visitors heading to Twitter. How? By monitoring their Twitter account and tweeting people heading to their HQ!
  2. Britney Spears management came to his office and wanted to know how she could get a higher Klout score than Lady Gaga
  3. NBA player was really angry because he didn’t get picked by a team because another guy had a higher Klout score

10:20 am

A member of the audience asks, “do people misuse Klout as a tool?”

“Yep. Everyday!” says Joe. He explains that Klout is more than just the score; there is depth under the surface. Not only that, but he never wants it used as an excuse for bad service.

Monty brings a selfie-stick on stage…… yes, a selfie-stick! (Check out the photo on Monty’s twitter)

10:30 am

Brian joins us onstage again to chat about ‘digital-Darwanism.’

He opens with a beautiful quote that resonates with myself, and I’m guessing every Twitter-lover out there; “If I had more time, I would’ve written a shorter letter.”

He moves on to discuss the ever-increasing influence of the digital world. It informs us on a day to day basis. Do you remember that baby playing with a magazine like an iPad? That is the effect of digital-evolution — the magazine is just a broken iPad.

10:35 am

How do we stay relevant when we don’t know what’s coming? Like last year, the answer is the same: innovation.

But this only works if innovation comes from leadership. But leadership doesn’t just come from the top; leadership comes from within.

Innovation begins with us.

10:35 am

I’m going to repeat this, because it’s key: innovation begins with us, right now.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be: this is empowering, because we have the ability to shape the world around us.

10:45 am

As a digital analyst, Brian has to keep an eye on what is disruptive in tech. Not just things that are trendy, but those which are disruptive. For example, Klout hit a critical point where it was suddenly disruptive (I’m guessing that’s the point Britney Spears got involved!).

This disruption is prolific and all around us, and this disruption is now touching business’.

10:50 am

How? Think about this: 67 per cent of sales begin digital-first. This is why the user-experience from digital to physical is so important, because it is in this moment that you your customer becomes lost.

10:55 am

STOP THE PRESS: Brian just said “JIF”!!

After picking myself off from the floor, Brian is sharing more examples of disruptive technologies. For example, when you are at the check-out, do you look at the gum and the magazines? Or do you look at your phone?

If you said look at your phone, you are not alone. And this is disrupting the impulse-buy.

11:10 am

We need to embrace change to succeed in this disruptive time. But often we’re building on a legacy of yesterday. And when you build on a legacy of yesterday, you are stuck with the problems of yesterday.

Take the television remote as an example — the remote has not improved in a digital world. In fact, it has gotten more confusing, with several remotes with several functions and lots of buttons. Why is turning on the TV so hard?!

Instead, if it was built from the ground up, if it was built for a digital world.

Instead we need to take a digital-first approach. We need to be customer-first.

And this all begins with us. It all begins within.

Or you get stuck with the 100-button remote!

11:45 am

We’re back from the coffee-break (if you were here, did you make it through the coffee line? I’m jealous of you!) for a key-note from Jeff Clementz, Managing Director and Vice President from PayPal Australia.

Jeff begins by talking about how digital disruption is changing the world of online payments, which PayPal obviously plays a large part in! Thanks for helping me buy second-hand dressed from eBay, Jeff!

Digital payment is now moving past being simply online — it’s now moving into the physical world too. Think of NFC as an example. Mobiles are changing the payment industry in a way never seen before, along with commerce on platforms such as Facebook or Twitte.r

12:10 pm

An example of the change in commerce is Black Milk clothing. With their lack of brick-and-mortar stores, they’ve managed to grow their fan base around the world through social media and online sales.

Digital payments are also moving both hyper-local and extremely global at the same time. Apps such as Jimmy Briggs, Airtasker and Telstra Treats are examples of the local economy, while the explosion of online shopping (hellllllo again vintage dresses!) an example of global economy growth.

As Jeff continues, I am reminded of the glocal experience.

12:25 pm

Troy Malone, the General Manager of Evernote, joins us onstage and opens with a story of working with the Myth Busters guys. Apparently they love organising their experiments using Evernote. Me too, Adam and Jamie. Me too!

Troy begins the Australian way: humble.

“The first versions of Evernote were ugly! Really ugly!” he says. “And we were pigeon-holed into simply being a note-taking app.”

But Evernote is, and will grow to be, much, much more than that.

12:30 pm

Evernote’s slogan is ‘remember everything,’ but that grew from the desire to “reduce the ambiance stupidity in the world.”

Troy shares how Evernote is finding their focus, and doing that by studying how people are really using their app. It sounds as if Evernote is following the aforementioned ‘digital-first, customer-first’ approach.

12:45 pm

So, after all that soul-searching, what is Evernote? “Well,” says Troy, “Evernote is the modern workspace.”

Troy shares a tidbit that elicits an audible gasp from the audience: Microsoft Word is 31 years old. I have a moment when I realise that Word is older than I am….

In it’s old age, Word hasn’t grown to address the needs of the digital-first age. It comes from the time of floppy discs! From a time when you bought software from the computer store!

This is where Evernote steps in.

1 pm

Evernote’s new ethos can be summed up with the following words (and actions!): write, collect, find, present. Look out for the future of Evernote! I particularly love the idea of context for notes, which is basically suggested content according to your note.

1:10 pm

Next we are greeted by a key-note from Carl Hartman, Founder and CEO of Temando, joins us before lunch (I hear there are burgers?!) to chat about the future of retail.

Carl starts by saying that the ultimate sales in the future is selling an experience. Think of the Apple or Tesla in-store experience.

“Experience is what connects you to the brand, the product is the souvenir,” says Carl.”Future retail is about making us feel something and that comes down to the brand.” People buy based on experience, not simply product.

1:25 pm

Carl invites Dean Flynn from IE Agency, Ian McCall from Nuon and Karsten Wildberger from Telstra on stage for a panel discussion. They begin discussing a common theme from today’s summit: future retail belongs to those who can close the loop and harness technology.

Another theme that has come through strongly is that as a business, you should always live as one brand. Customers, whether they are on mobile or tablet, overseas or at home, should have one experience.

1:40 pm

This one experience, says Karsten, exists beyond living as one brand. It’s also about providing a seamless interaction between the digital and physical world. It’s the customers choice which channel they use. Instead, a company’s challenge is not to think in silos. consistency is key.

One brand, one experience, across a personalised experience. This grows trust,  another theme in the summit today.

1:55 pm

The panel agrees that to deliver this seamless experience, you must master the basics. Karsten describes it as getting the ‘brilliant basics’ right to avoid disappointing customers. Dean gives the example that business’ need to understand where their stock is — something that can be easier said than done!

Karsten closes with these wide words, “The experience of yesterday is the expectation of today.”

2 pm – lunch!

We’ll be back in 50 minutes.

2:50 pm

We’re back with our bellies full for a panel discussion on the relationship between corporates and start-ups — are they partners or competitors? On stage we are joined by Joe, Jeff, Troy, Karen Stocks from Twitter and our very own Gerd Schenkel.

The first consensus of the panel is that productivity is linked with happiness. Happy employees = happy business.

This is often achieved at start-ups, but can be difficult for larger business’.

3 pm

Karen shares her experience opening the Australian Twitter office, which she describes akin to a start-up, despite the size (and public listing!) of Twitter. Brian agrees, due to the innovative nature of Twitter.

How do you keep a start-up culture once you make it big? Keep innovating, but stay on purpose (take note, Evernote!) and maintain your passion.

3:15 pm

Gerd chats about Telstra’s part in the start-up world. He says it’s the responsibility of large corporates to help out — but that doesn’t mean buying everything in reach. Instead, Telstra takes the route of helping with investment and mentoring, which is the basis of our start-up accelerator muru-D!

Gerd sums up the feeling of working together as one business nicely when he says, “Telstra doesn’t really exist. It’s the sum total of all of us that work there.”

3:20 pm

Next Karen describes what it takes to get people on board when working with corporates who may be hesitant to join. Look for the one person internally who gets your idea.

“Find ‘that’ person,” says Karen, “Every company has one.”

3:30 pm

There’s a lot of jokes about the ‘bus rides’ for start-up wannabes in Silicon Valley and whether innovation should be a ‘top down’ or a ‘bottom up’ approach. Twitter explodes with Silicon Valley HBO jokes!

The panel shifts to talk about ‘intrapreunership,’ where you can be an entrepreneur inside a corporate business.

“Find pockets of the core you can mess with without risking the company,” says Gerd.

“Systems are breaking everyday,” says Joe of innovation from within, “So, I’d rather break them myself as a leader in a company, than have them broken from under me.”

3:40 pm

Karen takes the stage to present a keynote on sharing the moment on Twitter.

“Twitter works best when you’re in the moment,” says Karen. “It’s about having those conversations. It’s about interacting with a person or an event at that moment.”

Social media has changed journalism and share culture. News is now about first-hand accounts now, direct from the source.

Why is this so relevant? Because it taps into something so basic, something we all want in life, and something we value here at Telstra: connection.

“You want to feel connected. Relevant.” says Karen, “Like a participant in the things going on around you.”

3:50 pm

Karen describes being in the office when the Oscars-selfie took off last year: “We just watched it click over and break all the records!”

She moves onto sport, then one of my favourite topics, television. Did you know that 95 per cent of the public conversation regarding television on social media is taking place on twitter? Another fun fact: there are one billion tweets every two days and every user unlocks their mobile phone 110 times a day!

4:10 pm

Karen closes up her brilliant keynote with an inspirational use of Twitter in schools. Kids would tweet to celebrities and point out their spelling and grammar errors. Please kids, don’t tweet at me about this blog — it’s hard to type and listen at the same time! 😉

None of the celebrities wrote back.

4:15 pm

Monty takes the stage to present the muru-D Australian Digital Scholarship. The three finalists are @YouChewsAus@fr8exchangeit and @fanfuelco, who all get to pitch to us. You Chews sends a selfie on stage! Where’s Monty’s selfie-arm?

4:30 pm

Each pitch in a sentance:

  • Fan Fuel: Taking sport sponsorship online, making it easier for athletes to seek sponsorship
  • You Chews: Improving corporate catering: don’t suffer from stale mystery meat sandwiches in meetings ever again
  • Freight Exchange: Rent-a-freight, solving the problems of excess capacity in long-haul flights

4:40 pm

And the Australian Digital Scholarship goes to… Freight Exchange!!

And that brings this year’s Digital Summit to a close — what a day! Thank-you for attending, watching, tweeting or reading along. It’s been a blast!