Product Announcements and Key Takeaways You Should Know About Coming out of Adobe Summit 2018
Building on the momentum of recent Adobe Summit conferences, this year’s event, which took place at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas March 26th - 29th, was attended by 13,000+ Adobe customers, partners and prospects across all major industries, and included 200+ break-out sessions, labs and demonstrations for Adobe Experience Cloud users and technologists. The programming delved further into the theme of how companies need to transform themselves into Experiences Businesses. This concept focuses beyond customer engagement on digital channels and brings together off-line customer experiences as well to ensure a seamless, omni-channel customer experience for your brand. As Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said during the opening keynote, “People buy experiences, not products”. To make this transformative vision come to life, it’s important to rely on the technology as well as the people in your organization. Experience Makers, or individuals who interact with customers, are the front-line in creating these omni-channel experiences, not just sales and marketing. The key takeaway for brands is that their digital transformation initiatives must look beyond how customers are engaging, and ensure consistent messaging and experiences are being delivered across all touch-points, at all times, and in real-time.
Over the course of Summit, Adobe provided us with several key takeaways and product announcements that weaved these themes together:
1. The Next Generation Adobe Cloud Platform has arrived - Last year at Summit, it was announced that Adobe and Microsoft were partnering to provide a new cloud option for customers, built on Microsoft Azure. This year, it appears as though they’ve done it: Adobe announced that they’re building their next generation cloud platform on Microsoft Azure, which will provide greater scalability, extensibility and processing capabilities. The primary focus of the new platform will be centered around customer data that will drive omni-channel customer experiences, including:
- Capabilities for setting up an extensible, customized data model, leveraging the new Experience Data Model (XDM) - more to come on this later
- Ingesting 3rd party customer data through connectors and ETLs
- Creating a unified experience cloud profile with ID resolution and richer real-time segmentation
- Leveraging Adobe Sensei machine learning at scale to drive segmentation and experimentation
- Providing a robust Data Science Workspace for analysis and reporting
For marketers, the ability to combine all your customer data together into a 360 view -- through one integrated cloud platform -- has the potential of being a game changer for creating real-time segments and hyper personalized omni-channel campaigns.
2. Adobe Launch is now available to all - At last year’s Summit, Adobe Launch was announced as their next generation dynamic tag management platform. After a year in beta and with limited availability, Adobe announced that Launch is now available to all Adobe Marketing Cloud customers at no cost. Launch goes beyond the capabilities provided by Adobe Dynamic Tag Manager and streamlines the ability for adding multiple extensions and setting rules to fire tracking tags across multiple solutions. Over 35 extensions have been built to date, with more coming every month, that integrate beyond just Adobe solutions including Facebook, YouTube, ForeSee and many more.
3. Adobe and Microsoft are integrated beyond the Cloud - This year we learned that the Adobe/Microsoft partnership goes well beyond the Adobe Cloud and big data to encompass several solution integrations between the two. These include: Adobe Analytics & PowerBI for enhanced reporting capabilities; Adobe Campaign & Microsoft Dynamics CRM for bi-directional customer data integration; and Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) & Microsoft Dynamics CRM for data-driven personalization based on CRM segmentation. For Adobe and Microsoft customers, these integrations should provide even greater efficiency and flexibility for marketers, sales reps, and data analysts to stay inside the tools they’re familiar with.
4. AI and machine learning is baked into everything - The Adobe Sensei AI platform that was rolled out during last year’s Summit is now integrated across every major solution in the Adobe Experience Cloud. The evolution of the Sensei Ecosystem was showcased this year along, with new features in AEM Assets, the Adobe Creative Cloud, and the new Data Science Workspace. For AEM Assets and the Creative Cloud, demonstrations illustrated how Photoshop Smart Crop leverages Sensei technology to dynamically replace empty regions with imagery that blends into the content seamlessly. For Adobe Analytics, the power of Adobe Sensei was showcased through the new propensity prediction capability, which crunches large data sets and provides actionable insights. For brands, AI technology within Adobe productivity applications provides greater automation to focus more on designing or analysis versus production or report creation.
5. More open APIs and data integrations - Adobe has purchased several companies over the last 7-8 years in an effort to round out the Adobe Marketing Cloud, and the complexity of integrating these platforms has been enormous. Adobe has invested in and expanded its I/O API framework for developers and is providing new integration possibilities within the Adobe Creative Cloud and Experience Cloud solutions. Additionally, Adobe Launch provides a platform to build custom extensions that integrate 3rd party solutions into this next generation’s dynamic tag management system. On the data front, the Adobe XDM provides a common data structure for a brand’s customer data that can be leveraged across Adobe Analytics, Target, AEM, and Audience Manager to drive a truly holistic and integrated data platform. Solving this marketing technology and data integration challenge looks to be a strong focus of Adobe’s vision and positions them well in the marketing cloud space.
6. Headless AEM - AEM developers have long known that the JCR-based architecture has natively supported the concept of a headless or de-coupled CMS through capabilities that can deliver XML or JSON structured renditions of content to power mobile apps, IoT, or single-page applications. As other competing enterprise platforms have recently launched their own headless reference architectures, Adobe has their own hybrid AEM implementation for developers that is built on the React JS framework. Key CMS authoring capabilities such as in-context editing, analytics and other AEM marketing features are maintained as part of this architecture. Leveraging Headless AEM provides customers with capabilities for true omni-channel content reuse and removes duplicative content management processes and systems.
7. Scaling up the Adobe Advertising Cloud - Enhancements to Adobe’s Advertising Cloud, which includes the Adobe Media Optimizer solution, was also a theme that surfaced in keynotes and sessions during the conference. Adobe mentioned that it’s the only solution that can create, personalize and activate cross-channel advertising at scale. One major announcement was around programmatic TV capabilities, and how advertisers can now manage media through the Adobe Advertising Cloud across all NBCUniversal properties. This partnership will build on capabilities for advertisers to create and activate cross-channel, personalized advertising on existing dynamic creative optimization capabilities through the solution.
8. Introducing the Adobe Experience League - Adobe launched their new online enablement and user community during Summit to help educate and train Experience Makers to be better equipped to leverage the Adobe Experience Cloud. The new website includes tools such as Intelligent Guidance to produce documentation, videos & tutorials by role. There are also community features to connect with Adobe SMEs and partners, and an experience index tool to survey customers on how they stack up as an Experience Business to other companies. Check out http://experienceleague.adobe.com for more information.
Coming out of Adobe Summit this year, the over-arching take-away was clear: all of Adobe’s past and present investments in data and technology have finally come together. Adobe will be a leading force across every aspect of omni-channel marketing and experience management for a long time to come. Whether it’s AdTech or MarTech, Adobe has a solution that solves seemingly every marketing challenge, and their products are even more connected and integrated than ever before, making it much easier for marketers and developers to enthusiastically embrace their technologies. And if you don’t have all the products in the Adobe Experience Cloud, worry not, because Adobe has invested significantly in integrations with 3rd party marketing platforms.