6 Things We Learned at Adobe Summit 2019

6 Things We Learned at Adobe Summit 2019
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Dan Temby

Adobe Summit has come and gone for another year. Having been fortunate enough to experience the evolution of this event over many years, it is apparent to us that Summit has quickly elevated beyond a product and platform showcase to become a barometer for the digital experience segment generally.

But you have to pay close attention to see beyond the main stage keynote announcements and deftly workshopped product language—and read between the lines of feature launches that reveal a preview of what will rapidly become the expected standard of our industry in the not-too-distant future.

So, as a data-driven “experience maker”, what’s on the horizon for you? And how is Adobe (and their competitors, no doubt) looking to further embed themselves within your digital portfolio? Here’s how we see it.

  1. Adobe Experience Platform will change the game

    This year’s most notable unveiling was the Adobe Experience Platform. From a positioning perspective, it essentially replaces what has previously been referred to as “Core Services”. But technically speaking, it is so much more than a fresh coat of paint.

    The Experience Platform promises a significant step forward in Adobe’s ability to act as the hub and activation engine for your customer profile data. It will ingest disparate sources, resolve identities across tools and data sets, maintain real-time profile “hydration” with the latest traits and behaviours, and support advanced AI/ML-powered analysis and activations within the Adobe product ecosystem and beyond. That’s a mouthful of words and ideas, to be sure—but make no mistake that this is a serious play to elevate the traditional data-lake approach and surface real-time, democratised personalisation capabilities at scale.

    In notable contrast to Adobe’s history of acquisition and (eventual) integration to broaden their portfolio, this entire platform has been purpose-built from the ground up to deliver on the underlying technology required to support the promise of a truly singular experience platform. This could very well be the legitimate manifestation of what this and other integrated mar-tech cloud offerings have long been pursuing.

  2. ODI/XDM is transforming theory into practice

    As a real-time customer data platform (CDP), the launch of the Experience Platform will dovetail perfectly with Adobe’s role in the Open Data Initiative (ODI) and is further evidence of their significant industry-wide influence. Adobe debuted the ODI last year in partnership with Microsoft and SAP in an effort to describe and join up customer data in a consistent and usable way—leading to the combination and activation of otherwise-siloed data resources.

    It’s all based on the Experience Data Model (XDM), an open-source set of more than 200 data models which is set to become the standard by which the industry records and activates customer profile and experience data. A lofty goal indeed, but one that could materially benefit a space that is plagued with a deep inability to turn theory into practice for many organisations.

  3. Retention is the new growth

    Following a two-hour keynote to Adobe Partners, CEO Shantanu Narayen fielded questions from an intimate audience of invited press, analysts, and partner-insiders on day one of the Summit. When asked by a Chinese official what Adobe’s next acquisition would be, Shantanu gracefully told the packed ballroom that although Adobe’s acquisition strategy has been instrumental to its recent success and innovation, he had no plans to buy any companies in 2019 or even 2020.

    Shantanu Narayen speaking onstage at Adobe Summit 2019

    Narayen’s political answer echoed an impassioned message heard throughout the keynote, and again later in the Q&A session: “Stop obsessing over acquisition!” He urged companies to stop applying marketing technology exclusively to new customer acquisition, and instead shift focus and resources towards customer retention. With the rise of subscription models, Narayen stressed that retention has never been more relevant. Easy advice from a company with millions of subscribers, sure, but his point that acquisition is much more expensive than retention couldn’t have been made any clearer.

    For non-commodity products, it’s no longer enough to simply dial in a lower price to retain customers. To craft personalised, sticky customer experiences in today’s market, businesses need to apply best-in-class web analytic solutions to capture high-value actions, deploy AI tools to crawl through data and plug leaks and experiment constantly to stay ahead of competitors. Now more than ever.

  4. Marketo heralds the dawn of B2E

    It would be easy to label Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo as their “solution for B2B” and call it a day. In fact, a handful of times at Summit, Adobe seemingly did just that. But diving deeper into the possibilities of Marketo within the Experience Cloud (or its home in the Marketing “sub-cloud”) reveals opportunities for harnessing the one-to-one marketing capabilities of Marketo across any company.

    As the expectations of business customers evolve and align with what consumers already expect from brands, the tools that support B2C and B2B will converge. Adobe and Marketo talked about this as B2E: Business to Everyone. It wouldn’t surprise us to see the Marketing Cloud consolidate the best of Campaign and Marketo for any and every client situation.

  5. Magento Commerce Cloud completes the last mile

    E-commerce transactions have long been a gap in the Adobe ecosystem. Over the years, there have been alliances with hybris, integrations with IBM, and potential acquisitions of various technologies as Adobe sought to fill this hole in their ability to provide an end-to-end technology stack for enterprise retail customers.

    With Salesforce’s acquisition of Demandware in 2016, it became incumbent upon Adobe to address this need. Now, 10 months after completing their acquisition of Magento—at the first Summit since this deal closed—it’s clear Adobe has done so and is set up for a successful next phase of the Experience Cloud with their own Commerce Cloud capabilities.

  6. Privacy by design will become the new normal

    It wouldn’t be a digital conference in 2019 if privacy wasn’t a featured topic. While Adobe touts their partnerships with Microsoft and SAP through the ODI and their ability to develop a unique and evolving customer profile through the Experience Platform, they also harp on about the lengths they are going through to maintain customer privacy through anonymisation and data security. It’s clear Adobe values customer data privacy and helps brands navigate the line between personalised marketing and personal intrusion.

So, what comes next?

With the organic development of the Experience Platform and the acquisitions of Marketo and Magento, it’s clear that Adobe continues to lead the pack in the solutions and strategies that facilitate digital transformation for today’s brands. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the path forward will be easy. If you’re looking for a sherpa to take your business where it needs to go—and you want the full might of an Adobe Silver Partner in your corner—Contact DAC to help.