top of the heap
Adobe was the clear leader in Forrester's inaugural Digital Intelligence Platform Wave PHOTO: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Forrester named Adobe the only leader and gave it the top rating in all but one of 14 digital intelligence platform capabilities in its new industry report.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm introduced its first Forrester Wave for Digital Intelligence Platforms (fee required) last week. Adobe, a digital experience provider based in San Jose, Calif., sat alone or tied for the top spot in almost all of the categories Forrester used to measure vendors providing digital intelligence capabilities.

Forrester's James McCormick wrote the report with help from colleagues Gene Leganza and Emily Miller. 

They define digital intelligence as the "practice of developing a holistic understanding of customers across digital touch points for the purposes of optimizing and perfecting the experiences delivered and decisions made by brands during moments of engagement."

More Than a Troll?

Adobe was Forrester's clear leader. But that doesn't mean it does not have competition.

Forrester analyzed the 10 "most significant" vendors in the space. Regarding Adobe, it analyzed Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, Adobe Activation Core Service, Adobe Mobile Core Service and Adobe Places Core Service.

Adobe led each of Forrester's 14 categories except one: "digital intelligence user experience," where Cambridge, Mass.-based Evergage led the pack with a 4.0 rating over Adobe's 3.0. Forrester rates vendors from 0 (weak) to 5 (strong) in its categories.

Evergage also tied Adobe for the lead in five categories. Evergage has Adobe very much on its radar, as evidenced by its guerrilla marketing tactics at the Adobe Summit at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas last month. 

Forrester pitted Evergage as "closely behind" Adobe, along with IBM and SAS in this space.

Evergage, at 75 employees, is a minnow compared to some of the tech sharks in this space. However, Forrester gave the 20-partner shop high marks.

Forrester named Evergage, IBM and SAS as "strong performers" and tabbed Optimizely, Google, Webtrekk and Mixpanel as "contenders."

No Question at Top

It's clear who Forrester's leader is, though.

Also named Forrester's only leader in its 2015 digital experience Wave report, Adobe led the pack or tied in all other digital intelligence platform categories, which include:

  • Digital data management (tied with Google at 3.0)
  • Digital analytics 
  • Digital engagement optimization (tied with Evergage at 4.60) 
  • Third-party digital intelligence integrations (tied with IBM and SAS at 4.0)
  • Product vision (tied with IBM at 4.0)
  • Business technology vision (tied with Evergage, IBM, Localytics, Optimizely and SAS at 3.0)
  • Execution roadmap (tied with Evergage, Google and SAS at 3.0)
  • Performance (tied with Evergage, Google, Localytics, Optimizely, SAS and Webtrekk at 3.0)
  • Supporting services (tied with Evergage and Optimizely at 4.0)
  • Partner ecosystem 
  • Digital intelligence revenue (tied with Google at 5.0)
  • Number of enterprise customers (tied with Google at 5.0)
  • Average deal size (tied with Google and IBM at 4.0)

Adobe optimizes its customer experiences and engagement "all within the framework of its marketing cloud platform in a marketing and ecommerce context," Forrester researchers reported in the Wave.

Forrester cited Adobe's recent Microsoft partnership and unveiling of the Adobe Sensei AI framework as promising future engagements.

Data Warehousing, Behavioral Targeting

Forrester's take on digital intelligence platforms comes down to data management, analytics and engagement optimization. Forrester researchers see the latter capability as the differentiator for vendors, particularly in the arenas of behavioral targeting and online testing.

Specifically, practitioners most commonly use digital intelligence tools such as data warehousing, tag management, cross-channel application, digital performance management, behavioral targeting, online testing, recommendations and a host of digital analytics.

Forrester found vendors are pressured by the emergence of social, mobile and internet of things channels, and large vendors still have gaps that startups "have been happy" to fill.