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Welcome to Telstra Vantage Remixed 2021, our eighth annual celebration of world-class ideas, technology and business solutions. 

Over the next two days we'll celebrate the best talent, partners, and customer stories from around Australia, and focus on the solutions that will drive individuals, teams, businesses, and communities forward. 

You can check out the full agenda here and follow our live coverage below. 

Day 1 - Wednesday 6 October, 2021

12.00pm AEDT  - Digital Momentum.

First up today are Telstra CEO Andy Penn and Telstra Purple Executive Chris Smith focusing on how we’re delivering true transformation and driving digital momentum. Andy says COVID-19 has changed how we work and where we work, so now is the time for businesses to start planning for the future. He explains a number of steps we’ve taken to do this.

He called on leaders to:

  • Be bold and clear
  • Accept that work has changed forever
  • Embrace technology and digitisation
  • Be driven by the experience their company provides their customers
  • Have a detailed understanding of cyber security and address the challenges

Andy says: “A word often used to describe our current circumstances is ‘unprecedented’ and it’s also unprecedented times for leaders."

Chris says COVID-19 meant digital transformation projects that businesses hoped to implement over years needed to be done in months, adding: “It’s been anything but business as usual.”

 “Successful transformation require leadership,” he says. And companies that can transform at pace will be the ones that succeed.

Yet, only 32% of Australian IT and business leaders consider their organisations to be ‘well prepared’ to migrate critical applications to the cloud.

“Telstra Purple can help you make sense of the exciting, but complex ecosystem partners, technology and experts you need to move from uncertainty to success.” says Chris.

illustration of the digital momentum session

1.00pm AEDT - Forward to the future. 

Telstra is always striving to ensure it’s investing in the latest, most innovative technologies to drive tangible benefits for its customers. In this session, Channa Seneviratne, Head of Technology Development & Solutions at Telstra, takes us through some of the most exciting network features that we’re introducing over the next 18 months.

Off the back of a recent commitment to take 5G coverage from 75% to almost 95% population coverage over the next 3.5 years, Channa says Telstra will densify 5G network coverage in both regional and metropolitan areas, with an expectation of 80% of all mobile traffic to be on the 5G network by mid-2025.

Over the next 12 -18 months, Channa says Telstra will gradually introduce exciting new advanced 5G features. This includes network slicing, which will allow Telstra to provide a customised service level connection with different types of traffic like IoT and mobile broadband sent on different ‘slices’ with their own characteristics. Channa also describes some of the innovations Telstra has delivered within edge computing, or the concept of bringing processing power closer to the source of the data. That includes an announcement that Telstra, Microsoft, and Ericsson will come together to combine 5G, edge computing, secure edge, and SD-WAN to drive increased flexibility and optionality.

illustration of the forward to the future session

1.30pm AEDT - 5G for Enterprise - limitless possibilities. 

Enterprises need to be more flexible and adaptable than ever in these times of rapid change. In this session, Nadine Allen, Head of Enterprise Business, Market Area South East Asia, Oceania & India, Ericsson and Kim Krogh Andersen, Group Executive, Product and Technology, Telstra,  discussed how existing and emerging capabilities around 5G, cloud and AI are enabling enterprises to unlock greater agility, automation and data-driven intelligence.

This included how 5G is moving from fringe use cases within the enterprise into supporting core, mission-critical processes.

“The use of 5G within a broader solution encompassing mobility, cloud, IoT, AI, AR and so on supports broader transformation,” Nadine says. She adds that Ericsson is seeing huge innovation within industries including manufacturing and logistics, mining, and offshore drilling organisations. This includes critical work with the likes of Mercedes Benz, Centrica Storage and Calpak, where they’ve driven tangible benefits and taken one step closer to realising a 5G powered connected enterprise. 

Illustration of Ericsson session

1.30pm AEDT - How the AFL is kicking cloud goals. 

The Australian Football League (AFL) is a true pioneer of cloud technology. Our host Telstra Purple Executive Chris Smith is joined by Stuart Newman, Telstra Broadcast Services Industry Sales Executive and Monica Forlano, Australian Football League (AFL) Head of Production.

Telstra partnered with the AFL to digitise its precious video archives dating back to 1909. That’s more than 20,000 tapes of footy. This valuable part of Australian sporting history was being stored on fragile formats and obsolete technology. Not only was it costing money to store, but it was being left at risk of being lost forever.

The move was a big investment, but everyone at the AFL knew the importance of protecting the legacy of the game and the massive value this would have in future. “Everyone is super excited to get to the outcomes. We’re looking forward to being able to create new content and use footage that we may not even know exists yet!” says Monica.

What started as an archiving strategy will also enable them to deliver richer, on-demand content as they reach a global audience. Monica explains artificial intelligence and analytics is also now being used as part of its partnership with Telstra. “In 2020 we started using AI. It learns to create highlights from matches [and] once reviewed we can efficiently share this to social media. It allows our editors to focus on longer form content,” she says. Moinca encourages other businesses to“rip off the Band-Aid” and find the right digital transformation partners. 

illustration of afl cloud session

1.30pm AEDT – Connected Vehicles, transport for the future. 

Ever watched a sci-fi movie and thought: “I can’t wait for the future to arrive?” Gilbert Oppy, Telstra Senior Technology Specialist, offers an exciting insight into our connected future.

Vehicle to Everything connectivity has the potential to improve road safety in all kinds of ways. Gilbert explains that connected vehicle technology has a range of possibilities, like connecting freight vehicles and ambulances to traffic lights so they can get where they are going faster, kitting out vehicles with “extra eyes and ears” to monitor what’s going on beyond their immediate surroundings and even creating a 5G helmet to improve cycling safety.  

Work is already taking place with the Transport Accident Commission in Victoria, as well as VicRoads and Lexus Australia. Gilbert says: “We’re continuing to work closely with road authorities on a number of other initiatives, now we’re looking at how we can improve the driving experience for heavy freight vehicles.”

Illustration of connected vehicles session

2.00pm  AEDT – Enabling better experiences with digitisation. 

Next up, Telstra Head of IoT Business Charles Ridler chats to The Hon. Victor Dominello, NSW Minister for Customer Service and Minister for Digital. Thanks to initiatives such as the digital driving licence and the Service NSW app, Mr Dominello has been described as the most influential digital thinker in government.

Charles Ridler opens by saying: “It’s not often that the private sector can take inspiration from the government, but we’ve seen first-hand how the NSW government has improved the digital experience for the NSW population in the middle of a global pandemic – real change is possible.

“QR codes are finally useful, digital licenses are a real thing, while dine and discover vouchers and digital vaccine certificates are just some examples of technology the NSW government has implemented to prepare for a digital future.”  This session highlights how digital transformation is relevant to all organisations and should allow us to deliver better outcomes by effectively measuring, analysing and taking action to tghe physical environment.

2.00pm AEDT - Cisco Systems: Re-Imagining Applications.   

App loyalty is the new brand loyalty, so delivering flawless in-app experiences is a must. In this session, Cisco’s Ben Dawson and Telstra’s David Burns discussed how apps fuel people’s day-to-day activities and the importance of transforming them to drive competitive digital experiences.

Formally known as a network hardware company, Ben says Cisco has made a huge shift towards software and particularly software-as-a-service to help support connected digital business strategies.

“Applications and digital experiences have become more important than ever. From buying a car to homeschooling, they’re supporting a vast range of consumer activity,” he says. “Applications are a competitive differentiator for businesses, moving from being part of the business to being the business.”

This puts pressure on CIOs to innovate, especially as apps become increasingly distributed as opposed to being located in one centralised stack. Ben says that’s why Cisco, through its AppDynamics, ThousandEyes, and Intersight businesses, is working to create a single common view of a customer journey with insights to power improvements. Ben and David agreed that it’s important for organisations to deliver human-centric experiences where they matter, ensuring customers can still engage with a person to discuss important issues.  

cisco session illustration

2.00pm AEDT -  Get the full value of cloud with hybrid. 

This session explores why organisations are favouring hybrid cloud models, the key migration challenges they’re facing and how to overcome them. Demand is high, with over 80% of Australian organisations relying on hybrid cloud for applications and workloads, but only 41% say they are ‘well prepared’ for their future cloud journey. Telstra Edge & Cloud Executive Sarah Anderson highlights that top customer concerns are:

  • Network readiness
  • Performance and ROI
  • Growing complexity
  • Flexibility
  • Security and control

She says a deep dive into understanding customer goals is a vital step in setting up for success, noting that the new Telstra Hybrid Cloud is here to help. “This is an off-the-shelf hosted private cloud solution providing security, compliance and networking across one pane of glass,” she says. Principal Analyst, Digital Enterprise Services at Omdia Adam Etherington encouraged businesses to take action, saying hybrid cloud has proven itself during recent times of uncertainty: “Hybrid cloud is here to stay and will remain critical to success in an ever-changing world.

illustration of hybrid cloud session

2.30pm AEDT -   Growth in Asia with Next Generation Networks.  

Our next session is hosted by Geraldine Kor, Telstra Managing Director, South Asia. She’s joined by IPC Vice President Network Services Asia, Mark Curran for a discussion about how businesses can expand in Asia with next-generation networks.

For those not familiar with IPC, its network connects financial counterparties for the purpose of conducting business related to the financial markets. Mark explains that these mission-critical services need to be repaired rapidly, noting the benefits of our partnership: “Telstra is responsive to our needs, understanding that availability and latency are critical in our space.”

The partnership has seen the introduction of low-latency services between Hong Kong and Taiwan for large global market makers with very specific latency and route requirements. “One of the major drivers we're seeing in Asia is that financial firms are looking for new trading opportunities,” says Mark. He explains the network has expanded in recent years with major developing economies in the region like China, India and Indonesia creating a lot of financial activity.

Mark offered the following tips for those looking to expand their own business in Asia:

  • Find the right partners to fix network issues
  • Ensure you understand local rules and regulations
  • Remember that expansion takes time
  • Establish a local presence or partnership for language support

illustration of growth in asia session

3.00pm AEDT - Microsoft: Digital innovation to strengthen the Australian economy.    

Up next, Telstra CEO, Andy Penn and Microsoft Managing Director, Microsoft Australia & New Zealand, Steven Worrall explore four key issues that will help to improve the lives of all Australians, including workforce enablement, sustainability, cyber security, and edge computing.

In recognising the enormous impact that COVID-19 had on its global workforce, Steven says Microsoft implemented a range of initiatives including 12 weeks’ paid leave and a ‘REAL mates’ program that allowed its staff to train up on mental health first aid and establish a peer support network. The pair then move on to sustainability, with Steven talking through the Microsoft, Telstra and CSIRO partnership on climate risk. “Climate change presents an opportunity for us to stand up a sovereign cloud capability for the private sector. This will help all Australians realise their responsibility in navigating climate complexity, meeting their business needs through science-based information and insights,” Steven says. “The Climate Risk Platform will provide the tools to build reusable datasets and models for clients to use within their own business to drive a more sustainable future.”

On cyber security, Andy talked about how securing the network at the heart of any business is crucially important. In discussing his work as head of the Cyber Security Industry Advisory Committee, he says “across industries, we’ve still got some way to go to lift the level of cyber security,” arguing it’s a crucially important consideration for the future. Finishing things off with edge computing, the pair discussed how the edge will help drive the connected digital enterprise, solving latency issues that plague many of the world’s most important applications. That’s particularly true for AI and big data applications that are hungry for fast access to data, transforming digital and physical business operations. 

Illustration of Microsoft session

3.00pm AEDT - Sustainable hybrid working.  

The shift to hybrid working has brought welcome flexibility and created challenges. Telstra is creating sustainable habits to allow employees to get work done effectively, manage energy, and thrive. Telstra Safety, Security and Wellbeing Executive, Lou Hudson, and Future Workplace Experience Product Owner, Casey Hotham, reflect on success in the Best Workplace Flexibility Program category at this year’s Australian HR Awards.

Casey says: “Hybrid working can take many forms. At Telstra, we’re focussed on making hybrid work ‘work’ for us - being bold, staying curious and adaptable. Our MyHometoolkit has provided our people with the essentials to work from home – sit/stand desk, chair, keyboard, monitors, and our MyWorkplace app with our smart sensors have supported our people in returning safely to the office. 

“This is what works for us, others may need a different approach based on their needs.”

Employees were also supported with shorter meeting times, a mental health hub, meeting-free times each week, a hybrid habits guide and enhanced wellbeing features in MS Teams

illustration of sustainable hybrid working session

4.00pm AEDT – Samsung: A platform for change – Enabling connected workspaces.   

In this session, Martin Brown and Nishan Raja from Samsung talked about the importance of championing the frontline worker and how addressing their needs can lead to substantial business benefits and growth.  

Martin and Nishan say many workforce segments have had the luxury of using the latest in technology and mobility, but frontline workers are often forgotten.

“Frontline workers constitute the largest segment of the Australian workforce across many industries, but they’re typically underserved in certain segments when it comes to technology, so the potential to transform these industries is quite staggering,” Martin says.

He says this group experiences three core mobility challenges, including the use of single-use devices that only perform one function, like a barcode scanner; devices that aren’t fit for purpose; and devices that are shared among large groups of frontline workers, which degrades productivity.

Walmart recently implemented a standardised ‘Walmart 1:1’ mobility strategy by deploying more than 740,000 Galaxy XCover Pro devices, which employees could use in their professional and personal lives. The retail giant implemented a range of initiatives around that, including applications that turned the devices into a one-stop-shop for frontline workers.  

This ensured they always had the best tools at their disposal, significantly improving productivity. Martin and Nishan say there are significant learnings for a wide range of Australian organisations with frontline workers at the heart of their business.

Illustration of Samsung session

4.30pm AEDT - Unlock the super power of soft skills.  

Hard skills are often championed as the most important assets for businesses to build, but soft or ‘human’ skills are just as critical and mustn’t be overlooked.  In this session, Kerrie-Anne Turner from Telstra, Kamal Sarma from leadership development firm Rezilium, and creative thinking facilitator Yvonne Adele showed us how to drive digital momentum beyond tech know-how.

Through an informal panel discussion, the trio discussed how to boost transformation by embracing the power of soft skills. It’s all about applying creativity and influence, discovering new ways to think differently, and adapting quickly to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.

illustration of the Unlock the super power of soft skills session

Day 2 - Thursday 7th October, 2021

12pm AEDT - Network, tech and innovation in action. 

Welcome to day two. First up, we have Telstra Enterprise Group Executive, David Burns discussing some of the latest initiatives bringing value to customers around Australia, and how the digital economy will be a powerful driver for recovery, fuelled by next-generation technologies.

David acknowledges the challenges of the global pandemic, encouraging customers and employees to be bold and forward looking: “We have the opportunity to create more resilient, more digital, more future-ready organisations, using technology to continue to be productive despite the disruption COVID continues to send our way. “Whether connecting our kids' schools to the world; protecting critical infrastructure; helping homegrown products reach global markets; or empowering our frontline teams in national emergencies, connectivity and technology have never been more important.”

We hear how Telstra will continue to invest in people and telecommunications infrastructure to drive the digital economy. David also discusses security, pointing out that all Telstra networks are built and managed with these considerations at their core. David suggests 5G “will revolutionise connectivity in Australia” as it’s maturing at the same time as other transformative technologies including edge computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, noting that it has already created exciting business use cases

illustration of network tech and innovation in action session.

1.00pm AEDT – Understanding the Cyber threatscape.  

The threat landscape has evolved significantly. In this dynamic environment and with absolute security an impossibility, businesses must be ready for anything. In this session, Narellee Devine from Telstra, and Andy France from RedQ dive into what’s happening at the coalface of threat intelligence, discussing some of the latest trends around ransomware, social engineering, zero trust, identity and encryption.

Opening the discussion, Narelle and Andy spoke about how the ransomware world is changing, as ‘the bad guys’ become more adept at working out vulnerabilities, not just in systems, but also in human behaviour. The pair say these groups are becoming far more unpredictable, not satisfied with merely encrypting data, but also encrypting backups, and extracting data to use it for more nefarious means in the future. They also spoke about the concept of zero-trust, arguing many vendors are making big promises that aren’t currently realised. “Zero-trust can’t be seen as the new black.” Narelle says. “If you’ve failed at identity management, privileged access, and network segmentation, zero-trust simply won’t work. She also says that while the shift away from legacy is a necessity, it’s presented a raft of new challenges. 

“Legacy has its negatives, but there were some nice things too. It was perimeter-based, with a contained fence and well-guarded entry points. That’s been blown away as we move to cloud and distributed networks, so the whole way we think about cyber needs to change over the next five years. Andy added that the way organisations and educational facilities are training their security personnel needs to be more investigative and proactive. In this sense, training needs to prepare people for what to expect in the future, rather than what’s happening now, as the cyber world doesn’t wait. 

illustration of understanding the cyber threatscape

1.30pm AEDT - Level up your team with AR and VR. 

Steve Leigh, Telstra Purple Head of Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, covers the exciting possibilities these technologies hold for businesses in all kinds of sectors.

Training, especially for safety, is the number one enterprise use case for VR. Steve says: “PwC predicts that by 2030, Augmented and Virtual Reality will deliver a $US1.5 trillion boost to the global economy – there’s a real opportunity there. This stuff is no toy – your competitors are using this tech today to train and empower their workforce.”

Orrcon Steel used VR technology to allow new workers to learn safely and receive feedback, before they even entered the steel mill. The benefits are clear – less risk to the worker, less chance of damage being caused to expensive machinery and more effective learning. “We took their existing training materials – Word documents, presentations, and good old-fashioned ‘watching someone else do it’ – and made a virtual environment that covers it all.”

illustration of AR and VR session

1.30pm AEDT -  Restoring commuter confidence with real-time data. 

This session looked at how Telstra Purple and the Victorian Department of Transport (DoT) partnered together to develop RideSpace - an online tool using real-time data to help commuters see how busy trains, platforms and stations are, so they can confidently choose when to travel.

Telstra Purple’s Glenn Carmichael was joined by Catherine Rooney, Executive Director - Strategy, Innovation & Data Insights at the Victorian Department of Transport, and Telstra Purple Business Development Manager, Ranjan Boopalan.

Catherine explained the goal was to improve customer experience of using the public transport system and “enable Victorians to make informed decisions on when they wanted to travel”, saying that COVID-19 added “a sense of urgency” to the project.

Raj explained how Telstra brought it to life: “It was crucial for us to ensure we had the most accurate and up-to-date data. Using many data points from our MYKI touch on/touch off ticketing system, timetabling, and Bluetooth and IOT sensors on some of our services, enabled us to feed in, correlate and integrate real-time data points into the RideSpace application, on an elastic cloud platform.”

Google has already requested to use the data and there are plans for more. “We have piloted a bus solution and will be introducing that to RideSpace soon. We’re currently testing a tram solution and working with regional operators to expand RideSpace’s capabilities across the state,” Catherine says. 

session illustration of restoring commuter confidence

2.00pm AEDT - AWS and Telstra make innovation real for Australian business.

When two cutting-edge and innovative companies come together, truly amazing things can happen. In this session, Paul Nicholls and Sarah Anderson from Telstra chatted with Matt Taylor from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to explore a newly signed framework agreement, which will see the two companies join forces to drive innovation and business transformation for Australian businesses.  

Discussions kicked off with the trio going through some of the recent case studies that they’ve been working on, including some amazing work with the likes of the AFL and F1. They also spoke about some work the two companies are doing with the Department of Transport to accelerate its DevOps capability and move to an innovative infrastructure-as-code framework, which has only been possible with the joint expertise offered by AWS and Telstra.

They also dove into an exciting new project with Airspeeder, an Australian ‘flying car racing’ start-up, where they’re providing the network, edge, and cloud connectivity to help competitors race on augmented reality tracks in the sky, across remote locations throughout the world.

The trio say integrating AWS edge with Telstra’s multi-access network allows the two companies to help solve many of the latency-sensitive issues that hold back many of the world’s most exciting innovations, from smart cars to automated manufacturing. Ultimately, the partnership is about building a robust framework for innovation. 

 “It comes down to principles and partnerships around innovation. We partner with organisations like AWS to scale services up and down, to fail quickly when we need to, and to learn at every step. 

“If something doesn’t work we drop it, but the more we can experiment, the more we get it right and drive value for our customers.”

illustration of AWS session.

3.00pm AEDT -  Customer stories, the Apple Experience with Telstra.

In this session we heard from enterprise customers who have been through 'The Apple Experience with Telstra' workshops. They shared insights into what motivated them to attend a workshop, what the experience was like, and how they’ve gone on to action what they learnt, to add real value to their business.

3.30pm AEDT - Introducing the Responsible AI Index.

Artificial intelligence (AI) promises better, smarter decision making, but carries a real risk of algorithmic bias. Unless we fully understand and address this risk, the promise of AI will be missed.  In this session hosted by Adam Spencer, Telstra’s Stuart Powell and Ethicist and Futurist Dr Catriona Wallace talked through some of the core principles of ethical AI that they’ve driven as part of their work on the federal government’s Responsible AI Index.

Catriona says the world is littered with examples of how AI reflects unconscious bias, from a recruitment app that disregarded female candidates to discriminatory facial recognition technologies. Telstra has helped to craft eight key principles for ethical AI use. These are split into three main groups, including assessing whether the AI is a positive force in society, ensuring it’s abiding by privacy and regulatory standards over time, and whether a person or group could be accountable for the decisions it makes.

While Australia lags some other nations from an AI perspective, the trio flagged a big opportunity to lead the world when it comes to ethical and responsible use of the technology. “Because we’re in the early stages, the good news is that Australia could double down on responsible and ethical AI to build a brand around it,” Catriona says. Stuart highlights how Telstra is doing this through a range of initiatives beyond its work with the government in creating ethical AI principles. This includes regular black box testing to determine if algorithms are biased, as well as reinforcing ethical principles in work with customers.  

responsible AI index session illustration

4pm AEDT - Realise the potential of edge computing and 5G. 

In this session our panel discussed the state of edge computing adoption – an emerging technology that promises to transform business.

Telstra Lead for Edge Compute Tim Otton opened by explaining that Telstra has been on an 18-month journey - working with an evolving ecosystem of global and local networking, cloud and application partners. In Australia, 22% of businesses are currently using edge, but 80% of those still to move are looking to deploy in the next two years.

Tim says: “We’ve seen some great benefits for customers - enhanced operational resiliency and efficiency, improved customer experience and insights, and real-time data-driven decisions.” He went on to explain that edge has already enabled interesting use cases with IoT, analytics and machine learning, saying now is the time to get the foundations right.

Andreas Olah, Senior Analyst, Digital Enterprise Services at Omdia, encourages interested business decision makers to find out more: “Don’t be put off by the complexity or lack of in-house skills. Work with a service provider as a trusted partner that can provide expertise, and understands your individual business needs as well as the technology.”

If you'd like to know more about our 5G edge compute capability, check out this article from ZDNet

4.20pm AEDT - In conversation with Ariarne Titmus and Dean Boxall. 

Success is accomplished through hard work, dedication and resilience when things don’t go your way. 

That’s been the mantra of Ariarne Titmuss and her enigmatic coach Dean Boxall.  In this session, we explored the motivations and mindset required to drive momentum and deliver record-breaking moments.

Ariarne talked through her first gold-medal moment in Tokyo, and she prepared herself to face one of the greatest swimmers of all time in US champion Katie Ledecky. As a swimmer that started competitive events at just seven years old, she says her years of training guided her through the race.

“We said to ourselves before Tokyo, we want to not talk about the race, and have a joke and try to be relaxed. I was pretty nervous, but I was surprisingly calm. I expected to be the most nervous in my life, but my training kicked in and everything felt quite automatic,” Ariarne says.

It was so ‘automated’ that Ariarne didn’t even know she won the race until the very end when she looked up at the board. She paid tribute to Dean, describing him as a mentor and a friend.

Dean says he’s never seen an athlete quite like Ariarne: “I love this girl. We communicate most days, and we have an unbelievable sense of trust." 

illustration of conversation

That’s a wrap. We hope you’ve enjoyed Telstra Vantage Remixed 2021.