Over 12,000 customers and partners descended on Adobe Summit in Las Vegas – March 20th through 24th – including close to 100 DigitasLBi attendees and clients.
As with recent years, the key focus of Summit was how leading brands are building smart and cohesive cross-channel digital experiences for customers built on the Adobe suite of solutions. A common message that underlined the keynotes and sessions is that “Experience Management is a disruptive force”, and brands need a strategy to take on this tectonic shift in the market head-on. As with most leading technology companies today, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a theme across the event and Adobe’s investment in building out this capability in their cloud solutions.
Overall, Summit highlighted some great case studies and examples of how customers are leveraging the Adobe suite to enable digital transformation with Customer Experience Management at the center of a holistic digital strategy.
Several key product announcements were intertwined across many of the sessions at Summit and reinforced the strategic direction that Adobe is moving forward in their product roadmap. Without further delay, here is our top list of takeaways from the conference…
More in the Cloud
A big announcement from Adobe is the consolidation of all their cloud services under the ‘Adobe Experience Cloud’ – this includes the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Advertising Cloud, and the Adobe Analytics Cloud. Beyond just rebranding to align the products with key digital marketing roles, this represents a clear shift towards a more integrated experience across cloud solutions, including the Adobe Creative Cloud and Document Cloud. Adobe’s vision is that these solutions will holistically bring together the end-to-end creative/content life cycle from creative execution, publication across a brand’s ecosystem, and measurement to enable continuous optimization.
The Adobe Cloud is no longer just hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) — here comes Microsoft Azure! This strategic partnership with Microsoft highlights a broadening of tech stack support for the new Adobe Experience Cloud that will most certainly open more doors of opportunity for large enterprise customers with a preference to Microsoft technologies. Even if Adobe has been considered behind the curve in cloud hosting support by industry analysts, this perception will likely be short-lived. Bottom line: .NET CMS platforms beware, Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is coming to an Azure Cloud near you. Finally, Adobe and Microsoft announced that a connector-level integration between Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Adobe Campaign is on the horizon, which further expands Adobe’s CRM footprint.
Experience the Robots
Adobe’s foray into Machine Learning and AI is in the form of Adobe Sensei platform, and several new enhancements were showcased with the Adobe Experience Cloud that integrates content with analytics. Examples of personalization and optimization strategies leveraging Adobe Sensei showed how digital experiences can be automated based on how content is consumed, and customers can be profiled on the fly. The possibilities are endless with new capabilities for the enterprise including Fluid Experiences, Auto-Target, Enhanced Anomaly Detection and Contribution Analysis.
Say goodbye to Adobe Tag Manager (aka Adobe DTM, aka Adobe Activation), and say hello to Adobe Launch. Launch is the next-generation ground-up rewrite of Adobe’s “tag management” solution (which is now much more than tag management). Launch provides a common framework and orchestration layer (down to the order of extension loading) to embed widgets and other functionality into your webpage. In solving their own problem of how to make it easier to install Adobe products, Adobe has created a platform where other organizations (and private accounts) can create and update their own “extensions” (think app store for services). Out the gate, Adobe has collaborated with several key partners including Facebook, ObservePoint, Pinterest, among others to provide extensions. This is definitely a new direction for Adobe, and will be interesting to see how Adobe Launch is extended to better manage the deployment of front-end technology.
APIs for All
Adobe continues its push for Adobe.io, the central place for all things API. With Adobe’s API-first approach towards all its services, it enables many interesting use cases and patterns. As an example, a demo showed the creation of an entire analytics setup within seconds via a script. In addition, Adobe has introduced Adobe I/O Events, which are WebHook triggers you can set up that will call your services when particular events occur. This enables tighter integration of the overall Adobe suite of products and offerings into your client’s specific business processes.
Content is Still King
Content Management continues to remain at the center of the digital universe of the Adobe Marketing Cloud. Several enhancements were introduced into the new release of AEM Sites 6.3 including: content collections for organizing related content and assets (great for reuse!); natural language processing for automating generation of summary content for different channels/uses; improved auditing and version history capabilities; building component libraries for authoring/developer documentation; ‘Experience Fragments’ for posting content to 3rd party channels including social media sites; ‘Activity Maps’ (or heat maps) that overlay pages in AEM with analytics data for engagement analysis; and managing content and applications for deployment to IoT experiences.
So in summary, the cloud and AI may be trending, but content is still king. That’s a wrap, see you at Adobe Summit next year!
Charlie Bleau, VP/Group Director, Technology | Content & Experience Management Lead
Ean Garcia-Rollings, VP/Group Architect, Technology | AEM Development Lead