aikido participants in a dojo
Sensei — which means teacher in martial arts — is now running through Adobe’s most popular packages. PHOTO: Asa Aarons Smith

After its near-death experience thanks to Flash, Adobe vigorously embraced the future of the digital experience. It became all about web and mobile and the cloud technologies and, above all else, adding productivity to work processes to make its products ever easier to use.

This week at Adobe Max 2016 in San Diego, Adobe showed the world that not only has it truly absorbed this philosophy but it has pushed it even further by adding artificial intelligence to the digital design experience. 

It unveiled what Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said has been one of the company’s biggest strategic investments: a new unified artificial intelligence and machine learning framework and set of intelligent services called Adobe Sensei. 

Sensei — which means teacher in martial arts — is now running through Adobe’s most popular packages including Creative Cloud, Adobe Document Cloud and Adobe Marketing Cloud.

"Adobe Sensei is uniquely focused on solving today’s complex experience challenges in the design, document and marketing fields, where only Adobe has decades of expertise and market leadership," Narayen said.

Doubling Down on the Creative Space

Sensei debuted to what IDC Program Director of Software Development Research Al Hilwa called Adobe's biggest, most well-attended partner conference ever. It is a testament to Adobe's turnaround, he told CMSWire. "They are doubling down on the creative space and investing in a lot of features to make designers be as fast and productive and creative as never before."

Adding Adobe's inventory of content, which ranges from high-resolution images to customer clicks, is just part of that, he said. This offering is just the beginning many suspect and Adobe itself has said will be a bigger push into intelligence services. For starters, Hilwa said, Adobe as a formidable army of developers that now can advance this framework too, now that Adobe has given developers and partners access to Sensei as APIs via its developer platform Adobe.io.

Indeed CEO Narayen touched on that point as well: "We're excited to open it up to our broader ecosystem of partners, ISVs and developers to enable even more innovation." These companies have been watching Adobe move into this space for the last several months with eagerness when Adobe unveiled Marketing Cloud enhanced with machine learning this past March. Since then dozens of these intelligent services have been deployed in Adobe products.

A Subtle Enhancement

What these outside vendors will do with Sensei remains to be seen. Adobe, for its part, has kept its innovation in its own cloud platform practical and straightforward. It didn’t, in other words, go crazy with concept-car like features, which few in the design and content management community need or want right now.

For example, it focused on content intelligence, helping users automatically tag images and making intelligent recommendations during searches. Another feature, called Face Aware Editing, is able to make slight changes to an eyebrow or eyes and create a different facial expression in an image without ruining the picture.

Adobe didn’t forget the users from the marketing department with Sensei either. It has also added such features as semantic segmentation — in which image regions are labeled by type — and intelligent audience segmentation, a feature that provides allows for the targeting overlapping or adjacent segments.