Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager of the Digital Marketing Business at Adobe, said the industry is in what he refers to as the third wave right now. He described the first two waves as the back-office and front-office waves, respectively.
The back-office wave saw software developed for in-house processes, including inventory control, payroll and accounting. The front-office wave ushered in customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to help businesses streamline their data to better interact with customers. Now, the third wave is upon us, Rencher said—the “experience business” wave.
Technology from both the back-office and front-office waves is now ubiquitous and now simply “table stakes,” he said. “The previous two waves were about us—they helped us do our jobs more efficiently, but this (the third wave) is about the consumer,” Rencher said. “To accomplish this wave, the enterprise as a whole needs to become experience-based. It is the new competitive high ground.”
Indeed, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said, “Life is made so much better through digital experiences. Digital experience needs to be provocative, personal and predictive.” Put another way, Rencher said, “We’re no longer in the business of selling products; we’re in the business of selling experiences.”
Rencher said the glut of data available to individuals and organizations has raised customer expectations to unprecedented levels—customers now demand a compelling experience and companies must deliver personalized customer experiences on every device and at every connection with consumers, from websites and mobile apps to retail environments.
“Everyone has a voice now and they know how to use it,” said Rencher. He noted there are four rules customers expect and organizations must adhere to in the experience business wave: “Know me and respect me, speak in one voice, make technology transparent, and delight me at every turn.”
Christopher Ross, a research director at Gartner, said he believes Adobe’s big-picture focus on experience is “incredibly important. Adobe has a lot of the pieces critical to making this happen,” he said, noting that nobody has all the pieces together in one place. “You’ve got to have strong content and tools to deliver content, and they got that. They also have analytics and tools for audience and campaign delivery.
“One of the challenges marketers have but don’t really understand is the ‘experience’ they’re supposed to be delivering,” Ross continued. “That is not always apparent through analytics. It’s not necessarily a technology or an analytics problem, so instead of understanding the experience, many vendors just throw technology at the problem. Experience is such a problem because it demands so many different parts to be in play.”
Also at Adobe Summit, Adobe announced the next generation of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, which features enhancements to help drive an experience business. The enhancements include a new user interface with simpler workflows, new mobile innovations and data science functionality, Rencher said.
Adobe Launches ‘Experience Business’ Software Wave
Other advancements to the Adobe Cloud Platform include updates to Adobe Exchange, which hosts hundreds of apps and integrations such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, DemandBase, Acxiom, and BrightEdge. Adobe Exchange is a repository of plug-ins, extensions and other content for Adobe products that enables partners to extend the functionality of Adobe Marketing Cloud. More than 250 technology partners extend the functionality of Adobe’s digital marketing tools, according to company officials.
Adobe also announced the launch of Adobe.io, a developer portal that enables developers to download the Adobe Marketing Cloud software development kit (SDK) and easily access application program interface (API) routines and protocols.
In addition, new Adobe Certified Metrics, built on the Adobe Cloud Platform and powered by Adobe Analytics, offer digital census data for more accurate measurement of digital audiences. Using Adobe Certified Metrics, marketers can get a view of total audience engagement across TV and digital to increase ad revenue opportunities. Cable networks, pay-TV service providers and digital publishers can use Adobe Certified Metrics to accurately measure audiences and monetize their content across all screens, including linear TV, DVR, video-on-demand, desktops, smartphones, tablets, game consoles and over-the-top connected devices, according to the company.
Also announced was the Adobe Marketing Cloud Device Co-op, a network that will enable companies to work together to identify consumers as they move from one digital device to another. The goal is to maintain privacy and transparency while empowering companies to deliver more personalized consumer experiences across devices and applications at massive scale.
“That’s a pretty bold idea,” Ross said. “The big question is whether they can get testers to participate.”
“It’s still very new and there are only a small number of companies participating in the co-op, yet it shows promise as a way for marketers to reconcile their audiences across a growing number of devices, get to more meaningful measures of marketing performance—i.e., people vs. devices—and better align marketing to audience behavior,” noted Jennifer Polk, another analyst with Gartner.
The marketing clouds are focusing their efforts on building synchronized programs across all channels based on a foundation of data, said Jordan Cohen, CMO of Fluent, in an interview. “This enables marketers to map out endless versions of customer journeys.”
“By housing all of the customer journey data from all channels under one roof, a marketer has a better shot of making these sophisticated journeys actually happen,” Cohen told eWEEK. “At the moment, only the well-resourced marketing organizations are actually utilizing all of these features, while the rest are attempting to lay the groundwork to get there in a few years’ time.
“But there is still a big place for ‘point solutions,'” he added. “Every marketing cloud has a robust partner ecosystem of solutions that meet different needs that aren’t owned by the marketing clouds themselves—yet. Most marketers would still prefer to work with an industry-best solution or at least the option that best suits their own internal needs and capabilities, and wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their comfort with various solutions in their existing marketing stacks just for the sake of helping the core marketing cloud provider keep everything in-house.”