Tech Takeover

Adobe’s Paul Robson outlines the 5 global mega-trends transforming business

Paul Robson landed his first job at an on-campus interview when he was a Western Sydney University student. The Bachelor of Commerce graduate hasn’t sat still in the 20 years since and is now president of Adobe Asia Pacific. Along with leading Adobe’s business across the Asia Pacific, Paul is a spokesperson for digital transformation more broadly. “I advise CEOs of Asia Pacific’s biggest companies on dealing with digital disruption,” says Paul. “I work with government on digital regulation and speak to boards about why investing in digital technology is so important.” Paul is also interested in the small end of town, showing startups how technology can give them a competitive edge compared with big business.

“In the old days, there were massive barriers to entry for competition, but they have been demolished by technology,” he says.

A fast-moving industry is a fitting match for Paul, who rose through the ranks at Phillips and Compaq before becoming, at the time, the world’s youngest Hewlett-Packard vice president and general manager at the age of 33. At Adobe, he has led a shift to subscription-based pricing and helped introduce the marketing cloud powering some of the world’s biggest websites.

On the technological mega-trends transforming business and life across the globe, Paul highlights the following factors as ones to watch.

People in emerging markets are doing everything on mobile devices, far more than in Australia. There are students writing their thesis on mobile phones using a keyboard.

Machine-based decision-making is going to have a huge impact, from deciding what advertising you see on TV, to a machine allocating seats on a plane.

You’re now able to immerse yourself in another world through technology, whether you’re gaming or using goggles to walk through a house you’re designing.

Here’s where the digital and real world come together – like in runaway 2016 success Pokémon Go – you can hold up your phone and see imaginary things in a real setting.

Some of the world’s biggest brands are being blindsided in a matter of weeks by startups with less than five employees.

Editor’s note: Since the writing of this article Paul has been appointed President of Adobe for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).