Integrate to collaborate: Adobe Digital Summit 2013

Richard Parker
By Richard Parker | 7 March 2013
Eccentric job titles like the Jack Bauer-esque ‘Critical Situation Manager’ are all around at the Adobe Digital Summit 2013.

This is a big summit, on an American scale. There are 5,000 attendees here, from 27 different countries. There are, so we’re told, over 1800 different job titles represented including the rather magnificent sounding ‘Content Czar’ and ‘Digital Taxonomist’ and the Jack Bauer-esque ‘Critical Situation Manager’. These job titles actually exist. Who knew?

Diverse though the audience is, we’re all here to explore the big theme for this conference – and, frankly, what promises to be the big theme for 2013 and beyond for all digital marketers. And that theme is integration.

There is huge pressure on the digital marketer today, born of speed, of access to data and of technology. The pressure is to deliver faster, better and more efficiently. According to Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s CEO, the pressure to ‘engage everywhere’, to ‘embrace rocket science’ (i.e. make sense of big data) and to ‘connect the dots’ to develop a holistic view of the consumer is huge - and it can be hard for marketers to keep up.

Shanyanu Narayen
(Shanyanu Narayen addresses the audience in the opening session of the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit 2013.)

We all know what we have to do (it is, if you and Shantanu will forgive me, not rocket science): we have to listen to the signals – analysing all of the data available to us from all the different sources and silos, and pulling out insights. Based on those insights and signals we have to predict what sort of experience consumers are going to want - using algorithms and predictive technology as well as a bit of the old gut instinct. We have to assemble that experience from content assets that are scattered throughout the business, being produced and residing with different silos and their external agencies. And then we need to deliver the experience – an experience that needs to be personal, but needs to work on all devices and in all contexts. We all know what we need to do, but many of us struggle to fulfil on that. Why?

Well, according to Brad Rencher - Senior Vice-President & General Manager of Adobe’s Digital Marketing Business, technology – great technology - has been developed over the past few years to help us with these challenges. CRM systems, social media listening tools, content libraries etc etc. But these technologies have invariably been developed to deal with a particular issues experienced by a particular job function. So they’ve been developed as silo technologies, intended to help silo functions within businesses.

Technological development, born out of organisational silos, has supported those silos and made them self-perpetuating.

This presents two challenges. Firstly, getting technologies that work together – that are integrated. Secondly, getting people within organisations - social media managers, email marketers, marketing analysts and media buyers to actually talk to each other and actually collaborate. If these two challenges can be overcome, so preacheth Rencher, digital marketing can go into overdrive, satisfying huge customer expectations and as a result delivering strong ROI for the business.

So, put very simply, that’s what this conference is about: how to overcome those two challenges.

Adobe, obviously, has a solution. It is, after all, their conference. They’re calling it the ‘Marketing Cloud’, and it brings together five key technology functions into one:
1. Adobe Analytics – pulling the huge amounts of data being generated across multiple digital data sources together into one interface.
2. Adobe Experience Manager – basically, digital asset management and a pretty slick looking CMS, that works across mobile and tablet devices.
3. Adobe Target - testing and targeting technology allowing marketers to refine the message for greater effectiveness.
4. Adobe Social – combining social listening and publishing in one tool.
5. Adobe Media Optimiser – allowing marketers to manage their paid media across search, social and display.

The whole thing, actually, looks pretty slick. The interface is extremely user-friendly, and it does indeed look like something that could really bust open the silos – allowing marketing people plan and execute a campaign from start to finish from one interface. The geek in me (which is a pretty large part) kinda wants to get into it and have a play. Sadly I won’t be able to until it goes live to consumers, scheduled for Q4 2013.

So, integration is the theme. Integrating technology in order to free up work flows for marketing teams, enabling them to collaborate more and get out of their silos. It’s a grand vision and if you asked any client-side marketer whether this is a good idea you’d get agreement: it’s a no-brainer. But will it actually happen?

Well, maybe – if clients embrace all five of the tools, which seems unlikely due to pre-existing agreements etc. And if businesses can afford the solution, which seems pretty squarely aimed at enterprise level organisations.

Which brings me to my one gripe: Adobe has a track record in its creative product division of providing cheaper, stripped down versions of products – Photoshop Elements for example – for smaller businesses and non-laymen. I’d like to see that happen in their marketing product division. Could there not be a version of the ‘Marketing Cloud’ aimed at smaller businesses? One can only hope.

Richard Parker
Head of Strategy

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