Rethink, reset, and adapt in the new era of experience

The events of 2020 have completely altered the way we live and work. New research from Adobe and YouGov reveals that nearly 30 percent of U.K. consumers have changed the way they shop this year, with people ages 18 to 55 now doing more of their shopping online.

This has put pressure on businesses across industries to adapt almost overnight, while their leaders are steering their organisations through major transformations that would previously have taken years instead of just a few weeks.

On October 13, I had the pleasure of hosting some of Europe’s most inspiring brands and influential thinkers at Adobe Experience Makers EMEA, a virtual event dedicated to helping companies rethink, reset, and adapt in this new era of experience.

While there is no definitive, single solution for companies to overcome today’s challenges, brands can evolve when we draw inspiration from each other. Which is why Adobe invited leaders from Save the Children, Shell, and TSB to share their views on the new rules of customer experience and employee empowerment.

Reinterpreting leadership

I was inspired by the wealth of insight the executives at these companies brought to our discussion about the new era of experience, and I was especially drawn in by their candour and vulnerability. In a discussion led by our host, TV presenter Steph McGovern, all three leaders reminded attendees that it’s OK to not have all the answers. Rather, we need to be open to new perspectives from our employees and peers outside our businesses and create forums for discussion to broaden our understanding of how the world is changing.

Reinterpretation of leadership was a constant theme throughout the day’s sessions, but it was organisational psychologist and former NBA player John Amaechi who truly drove the point home in his welcoming address. To paraphrase Amaechi, this is a time to “lead like a giant.” That does not mean the C-suite should make brash unilateral decisions, but rather they need to appreciate the enormous impact of their decisions on the people who keep their organisations running.

Strong leaders know to leave space for inspiration and self-expression, and to make employees feel they can bring their authentic selves to work. Only then will leadership create an inclusive environment where people from all backgrounds feel empowered to bring the full breadth of their experience to what they do and feel connected – and thus engaged – in the workplace.

Customer and employee experience go hand in hand

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen shared our company’s vision for the future and outlined how we are helping organisations across the world adapt digitally. In keeping with the spirit of candour and vulnerability, Shantanu admitted that Adobe has also entered new territory given cultural shifts and the worldwide pandemic, yet he stressed that while we are committed to the continuity of our business, we are equally committed to the health and wellness of our employees and the communities we serve. The employee point is imperative because, as a business, you cannot deliver great experiences without engaged employees who love what they do each day.

All together now

The future can seem daunting when faced with so much uncertainty and change, but events such as Adobe Experience Makers EMEA reinforces the belief that as business leaders, we are all in this together. All the talk of digital disruption in recent years has suddenly gone from feeling somewhat intangible to very real indeed, and now it is on as, us businesses, to collectively evolve. Brands like Save the Children, Shell, and TSB have proved that we can adapt quickly if we are prepared to reset our way of thinking, and we look forward to working with our customers to help them transform in their own right.

If you were unable to tune into Adobe Experience Makers EMEA live, we’ve made our keynote and sessions available on-demand. Click here to access the streams on our website.