LAS VEGAS – Today’s enterprises aren’t merely in the commerce or service delivery business, they’re in the business of creating a memorable customer experience – and Adobe Systems Inc. wants to help its own customers ensure the experiences they’re creating are downright unforgettable.
To that end, CEO Shantanu Narayen announced on Tuesday that the company would be redefining its Marketing Cloud platform and combining it with new advertising and analytics services – called, appropriately enough, Advertising Cloud and Analytics Cloud – to create an all-in-one platform called Adobe Experience Cloud.
“We believe the experience business needs a modern platform – a new central nervous system… that sets the standard for how creative content and customer data come together to deliver exceptional experiences,” Narayen said on March 21 during the company’s annual marketing industry conference, Adobe Summit. “We think the Adobe Experience Cloud is that next-generation cloud, designed to power the modern experience business.”
The new platform comprises not only Adobe Marketing Cloud, Advertising Cloud, and Analytics Cloud, but Sensei, the machine learning and artificial intelligence platform Adobe released last year, and can be integrated with the company’s Creative Cloud and Document Cloud platforms as well.
The intent, Narayen and Adobe general manager Brad Rencher emphasized throughout the conference’s keynote presentation, is to give enterprises everything they need to become an “experience business,” one that trades in memorable, personalized moments between customer and business rather than simply exchanging goods or services.
“We think a winning experience can take many forms, but there are a few common elements,” Narayen said. “It’s personal. It’s consistent. It’s elegant. And it’s everywhere you are.”
“We believe that organizations who can do this will forge stronger connections with their customers, resulting in greater brand loyalty and growth,” he continued. “And we think that fundamentally a great customer experience is the differentiator that separates market leaders from the rest of the pack.”
Rencher, meanwhile, presented what he called a four-part “recipe” to becoming an experience business:
- Start with context, recognizing that customers will act differently, for example, during a vacation versus a business trip.
- Design for speed and scale, keeping in mind that your company’s content must delivered not to a single individual, but millions worldwide.
- When planning the customer journey, keep in mind that experiences don’t happen on one platform over a period of minutes, but across multiple platforms within seconds – a difficult proposition to many enterprises still relying on legacy systems that were never meant to scale.
- Integrate your teams, using existing assets to lead your company’s innovation efforts rather than building a costly new team.
“It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment for companies,” Rencher said, arguing that unlike its predecessor, Experience Cloud should not be under the sole purview of the marketing department.
“From the CEO to the newest hire in your organization, we are all stewards of the experience, and this is where the bar is today,” he said. “To reach it, fractured, disparate technology just doesn’t get you there. You have to make it an amazing experience every time.”
The building blocks
In its present form, Experience Cloud includes:
- Adobe Marketing Cloud, the company’s signature marketing platform that invites practitioners to craft experiences and proactively engage with customers, using such tools as Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target, Adobe Campaign, Adobe Social, and Adobe Primetime.
- Adobe Advertising Cloud: A new platform that combines features from Adobe Media Optimizer and the recently acquired TubeMogul, Adobe Advertising Cloud allows marketers to purchase and deliver video, display, and search ads across multiple channels with a single purchase.
- Adobe Analytics Cloud integrates audience data across all each of Adobe’s cloud platforms, including data and audience management platform Adobe Audience Manager, and and analyzes the results using Adobe Sensei.
- Adobe Creative Cloud: Though not officially part of Experience Cloud the company’s signature creative software, used by such well-known brands as Coca-Cola, Hyatt Hotels, Major League Baseball, Mastercard, and the NBA, can easily be integrated into the platform, allowing marketers to, for example, pull in content from Creative Cloud libraries, edit the images in Adobe Campaign, then use the Experience platform to create and deliver personalized emails.
Inspired by Adobe’s own journey
Narayen said the Experience Cloud was inspired by Adobe’s own journey from boxed to cloud-based software maker.
In 2008, he reminded the audience, the company was at crossroads: Creative Suite, PhotoShop, Illustrator, and Acrobat were all leaders in their respective categories, but Adobe’s growth was stagnating as the growing mobile market began disrupting its profitable software desktop business.
“Our past successes had led us to believe that that revenue growth was going to continue forever, but we were wrong,” Narayen said. “And that’s when we faced one of the key tenets of modern business today – preserving the status quo is just not a business strategy.”
Fortunately, he continued, Adobe’s leaders soon decided to shift from desktop software to subscription-based cloud software aimed at creatives of all stripes.
“We had to reinvent our systems and processes from product to go to market, from front office to back office,” Narayen said. “Everything that we did had to become more agile and aligned to a customer-centric model, and… all levels in the organization stepped up to be champions for this change.”