CMO Interview: A look into Sydney Opera House's unprecedented digital transformation

The iconic Aussie landmark’s acting chief marketing officer reveals how a digital transformation journey will take customer engagement to a whole new level

Opera House CMO Chris Erskine says she is enjoying being part of the biggest transformation project she has ever overseen
Opera House CMO Chris Erskine says she is enjoying being part of the biggest transformation project she has ever overseen

The Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s premiere iconic landmarks. But for far too long, it had legacy marketing systems that were not meeting the demands of its growing global fan base.

Well, not anymore. The Opera House recently canned its old Web platform and a host of marketing tools in favour of collaborating with Adobe on its biggest digital transformation projects to date.

Sydney Opera House acting CMO, Chris Erskine, said the ambition with the digital transformation journey is to take customer engagement to a whole new exciting level.

Unlike many traditional iconic historic establishments that face internal barriers when it comes to embracing digital change, Erskine said the Opera House was quite the opposite.

“We’re in a decade of renewal, which is all about making sure the building and our brand is living up to its original purpose, and fulfilling its role for future generations of artists and customers,” she told CMO during an interview at the recent Adobe Symposium in Sydney.

“That’s a real driving force leading a digital transformation change. So we had to collaborate with a lot of stakeholders across the business to bring about digital transformation. There’s a real thirst for change, and recognising the importance of making sure our digital customers have experiences that are just as bold and inspiring as those having physical ones.

“We were really lucky we had a leadership team that were enthusiastic and passionate about this sort of change.”

As part of the transformation process, The Opera House’s marketing team decided to decommission a 10-year-old website and launch an entirely new one. In 2016, the venue selected Adobe Marketing Cloud to push the wide-scale renewal project and rebuilt the website on Adobe Experience Manager.

“We went from the business first saying let’s digitally transform in 2015, to now 2017, where we’ve decommissioned a number of marketing platforms and implemented the Adobe Marketing Cloud. It’s the first time any performing arts organisation in the world has implemented the platform,” Erskine said. “Along with building a whole new website, this has been the largest technology project the Opera House has ever taken. I have never experienced a project of this scale.

“It’s a massive amount of change in short period of time, but at the same time, it’s a hugely fulfilling opportunity for everyone and has really come to life through the collaboration with Adobe and the organisation.”

Erskine, who began a marketing managerial role at the Opera House in 2014 and was recently promoted to acting CMO in 2017, said she always knew she wanted to be a marketer and was always deeply fascinated with what motivates people, particularly in an emotional sense.

Prior to her marketing role at the Opera House, she held marketing positions for the likes of IMG and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“Working as the Asia-Pacific marketing manager for Andrew Lloyd Webber was pretty great, I worked on all the major tours of shows like Cats,” she said. “If you have a passion for performing arts, there is no greater place in the world to work for than the Opera House. It’s such a thriving cultural destination and working across its diversity of offerings is incredibly satisfying.”

Moving forward, Erskine sees the digital transformation journey at the Opera House as a constant state of evolution.

“It is not just a project, it’s a fundamental shift in the tools, the platforms and encouraging people to really think about the customer and care about how they experience physically and virtually the brand,” she said.

“We’re at the start of our evolution and thinking about what that will look like for the years to come is really exciting. Knowing we can offer even more personalised and automated experiences that ultimately deliver on a whole new level of customer experience.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAu..., or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

If you think it can benefit both consumer and seller then it would be great

Simon Bird

Why Ford is counting on the Internet of Things to drive customer engagement

Read more

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

I tried www.analisa.io to see my Instagram Insight

Dina Rahmawati

7 marketing technology predictions for 2016

Read more

The saying is pretty tongue in cheek. It's not saying that marketers are bad people, nor that they don't take themselves seriously. There...

LYF Solutions

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in