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Adobe Summit Diary #1: The Headlines

The first of a series of reports from Adobe Summit 2019, Las Vegas.

The halls of the Sands Expo center were packed wall-to-wall. Between sessions at Adobe Summit 2019, at which attendance had swollen from last year’s 13,000 to over 16,000. And this is without packing in a full-scale Marketo Marketing Nation audience or the vast Magento community. Yet.

Of course, the headline acquisitions of Magento and Marketo by Adobe happened post-Summit 2018 — completed in June and Oct respectively — remain big news, and the modes of accommodation for those big players within the Experience Cloud eco-system is a major topic this week. But there were other announcements to digest before and after the keynotes from Shantanu Narayen and Abhay Parasnis (CEO and EVP/CTO), as well as Magento’s Jason Woosley and Marketo’s Steve Lucas.

In the B2B/ABM space

Consistent with the overall theme of Summit, Adobe prefers the term Account Based Experiences over Account Based Marketing. Whether or not that catches on, the announcement of a new integration with LinkedIn gives new impetus to the Adobe Experience Cloud’s B2B capabilities. Adobe Experience Manager was already integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 265 for Sales. Today’s announcement means it will now be possible to feed both Microsoft Dynamics and Marketo Engage with precision account and buying team data from LinkedIn Marketing Solution.

In simple terms, the LinkedIn ABM sauce will season B2B marketing within the Adobe Experience Cloud, and Adobe B2B marketers will be able to identify and target the right audiences with the right content on LinkedIn. 

For commerce

The new Adobe Commerce Cloud, built on Magento Commerce, is now available. It’s a core part of the Experience Cloud eco-system, with integrations with the Marketing, Advertising and Analytics Clouds. Commerce Cloud aims to orchestrate B2C and B2B commerce experiences across all channels, including for global and multiple brand enterprises.

Stitching the data together

As is by now common knowledge, the prospect of delivering a consistent, coherent customer experience, across marketing, sales, and service environments, absolutely depends on stitched-together data. That means one source of truth about the customer, valid across channels and devices, and — if experiences are to be meaningful — updated in real-time. Brands can’t meet the customer where she is, at the right moment, if they’re driving insights from week old records.

Adobe, like some of its competitors, is embracing the challenge of developing unified customer profiles, updated in real-time across the Experience Cloud, with the general availability of Adobe Experience Platform.  We’ll be taking a closer look at this in a later report.

Other enhancements to Adobe Sensei (AI), as well as the Analytics and Advertising Clouds, and Adobe Audience Manager can be tracked down here.

An ear to the keynotes

“We’re delivering the most comprehensive platform for customer experience management,” said Shantanu Narayen, who has steered Adobe as CEO since 2007 — in other words, throughout the entirety of its transition from a creative software vendor to a digital experience giant. The vision, he said, remains “really simple. We’re changing the world through digital experiences.”

A grand claim, of course, but Adobe can rightfully claim to have pioneered the modern marketing cloud, and has now done much to translate that offering into a broad customer experience suite. With the acquisition of Magento Commerce “allowing us to close the last mile of the experience journey,” Narayen says  that the Adobe offering is now comprehensive.

And indeed, the volume of behavioral and transactional data available within the Adobe eco-system is staggering: one example, 14 trillion audience segment activations daily.

Of course, having the data, and being able to leverage it to power customer experiences in the instant, are two different things. Hence the emphasis on the Adobe Experience Platform, the actionable data layer supporting the various clouds. “The real-time customer profile is at the heart of driving great experiences,” said Narayen.

We aren’t just talking about B2C consumers here. Another key theme of Summit today was the convergence of B2C and B2B expectations — spawning another acronym which may or may not catch on: B2E (business to everything or everyone). Steve Lucas, who recently wrote about such convergence in his book Engage to Win should know about B2B expectations. Formerly CEO of Marketo, he’s now heading up the Marketo experience within Adobe Experience Cloud. Marketo itself handles trillions of data points. “We shouldn’t have these numbers,” Lucas exclaimed. “These are B2C numbers.” 

But the B2C/B2B division is no longer black and white, he added. Not only are buyers’ expectations converging, but countless brands now serve both business and consumer audiences. 

On the commerce side, Jason Woosley, former Magento leader, talks about having “the most complete and comprehensive customer profiles within the industry,” He also says it’s based on “the most complete and comprehensive customer profile within the industry.”based on behavioral and transactional data generated through 12 years of boosting the digital transformation of retail. Making this data fully actionable, in real-time, will make “every moment personal, every experience shoppable.”

Setting aside the understandable hyperbole — surely we all have experiences we’d prefer weren’t “shoppable” — Adobe is plainly building a head of steam, especially as it clarifies its roadmap for B2B (or B2E) experiences, as a vendor primarily known for powering consumer marketing. “People buy experiences, not products,” said Narayen. And boy is Adobe cooking up some experiences for them.

Adobe covered DMN’s expenses to attend Summit.

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