Cloud

Transform into an 'experience business' or die: 4 tips from Adobe

If you don't use data and design to fix the way customers interact with your brand, then you will get disrupted. Adobe is changing its cloud platform to help enterprises pull it off.

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Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen talks about the need to become an 'experience business' at Adobe Summit 2017.

Image: Adobe

Adobe's main pitch at the 2017 Adobe Summit: All businesses need to become experience businesses.

Since most companies are terrible at user experience (UX), big data analytics, and customer service, that's a tall order. But, it's the problem Adobe wants to help business solve, and it's betting its future on it.

Over the past five years, Adobe has reinvented itself from a company that makes software for photographers and graphic designers to one that builds services to power the back office—especially the marketing cloud. Now, the company is building on its success as an enterprise cloud provider to draw a much bigger circle around what it can do with the cloud and data analytics.

As Larry Dignan detailed on ZDNet, Adobe is rebranding its cloud platform as the Experience Cloud this week at the Adobe Summit. The new Experience Cloud has three components:

  1. Adobe Marketing Cloud (drive personalization and customer journey transformation)
  2. Adobe Analytics Cloud (big data engine to turn intelligence into actionable insights)
  3. Adobe Advertising Cloud (end-to-end platform to manage all forms of advertising)

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen told the Summit crowd that the digital revolution is making our devices talk to us, our cars drive for us, and our technology platforms understand us—but it's dizzying for businesses and it's causing more fear than he's ever seen in the industry.

"As consumers we love it, but as businesses we're struggling to keep up," Narayen said.

Since customers are now blessed with unlimited choices and the barriers to launching new startups are lower than ever, it puts the onus on all business to be more customer centric than ever. And the ways to make it happen are with better design and better data, so that you can know more about your customers and deliver frictionless experiences that optimize their touchpoints with your brand, Adobe stated.

That's why Adobe is trying to refashion itself as a data company to help enterprises figure out how to make this tricky switch—which requires them to move a lot faster and get a lot smarter about data and machine learning.

"We are riding the experience wave," said Narayen, "and it represents the single biggest disruption we've seen in enterprise technology in decades."

Where it nets out is that every businesses needs to think of itself as an "experience business."

Brad Rencher, Adobe's Executive Vice President of Digital Marketing, offered a four-part plan for becoming an experience business:

1. Know and respect the customer

Understand your customers' needs and adapt with them.

2. Speak in one voice

All parts of your brand have to speak in context and always give relevant messages.

3. Make technology transparent

The medium is not the message, the experience is.

4. Delight the customer at every turn

The expectations of your customers will continually elevate.

"We all need to accept the mandate to become experience businesses," said Rencher.

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Adobe's Brad Rencher talks about the "experience business" paradigm at Adobe Summit 2017.

Image: Adobe

But Rencher wasn't done doling out wisdom, based on what Adobe has learned from helping companies with digital transformation. As a bonus, he also offered a four-tip recipe for building a successful experience business, from a technology perspective:

1. Remember that context is the starting line

Tech can help you deliver context at scale, and you have to adjust your data strategy to deliver it.

2. Design for speed and scale

You need to rethink your entire content supply chain for better speed and scale.

3. Milliseconds make the journey

When you're bound to legacy systems that weren't meant for the real time digital age, it can seem impossible to transform, but you can't let that be an excuse. Optimizing customer journeys can only happen if you master the milliseconds.

4. Integrate to innovate

Let tech be a catalyst to break down the walls. Unify content, data, and workflow.

All in all, the IT department has a key role to play in orchestrating the possibilities of all of this behind the scenes, and Adobe keyed in on it. The company announced enhancements to its Adobe I/O developer platform (which now handles over 700 million API calls per day) and new partner integrations (from some big brands like Dun & Bradstreet and Mastercard) for Adobe Exchange. It also unveiled Adobe I/O Events (to ping your applications and experiences when interestings things happen) and Adobe Launch (a next generation tag management platform).

But, the most significant announcements for IT and business were Adobe's work to build a standard data model—a universal language for big data—and the deepening of its cloud partnership with Microsoft. The data model is key to bringing together disparate data sets from diverse systems talk to each and the Microsoft partnership is critical as Adobe crafts its future as a global enterprise cloud provider. On stage, Microsoft Azure chief Scott Guthrie told the crowd that 90% of the Fortune 500 now have solutions deployed on Azure, and Azure is in 38 data center regions around the world—more than Amazon and Google combined.

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About Jason Hiner

Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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