Microsoft Adobe
Microsoft's new partnership with Adobe touches on cloud computing and CRM data.

LAS VEGAS — Adobe's technology partnership with Microsoft will help businesses connect with customers in richer ways because it combines cloud infrastructure, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and data analytics technology.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group for Microsoft, shared those insights this morning on the main stage here at the Venetian Hotel as Adobe kicked off its digital marketing conference. Adobe is hosting 12,000 attendees this week for its annual week-long Adobe Summit.

Adobe used the Day 1 keynote today to showcase its partnership with Microsoft, first announced six months ago its Microsoft Ignite. The partnership features integrations between the newly announced Adobe Experience Cloud and Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Power BI.

Adobe's Cloud Play

From Microsoft's perspective, the partnership is another way to boost its data and cloud-hosting play and help get ahead of Salesforce, Oracle and Amazon.

For Adobe, which has 15,700 employees and $5.9 billion in revenue last year, it's a chance to improve its reported weakness in cloud hosting offerings.

The announcement that Adobe Experience Manager Sites Managed Service is now available on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform drew perhaps the loudest applause from the audience during the morning keynote.

Forrester in its Wave report on web content management technologies gave Adobe low marks for its cloud strategy, calling it a weakness because the "only option is a managed hosted flavor of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)."

But Adobe pushed today its vision for an API-based technology ecosystem, a better exchange framework with third-party integrations and a flexible cloud hosting architecture on Azure.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen promised the morning crowd his company will "step up" because "we know your transformation requires more than digital marketing technology."

"Every organization is out there looking to enable deep digital transformation and engage its customers fundamentally in new ways," Guthrie said. "Data is in many systems across the enterprises in silos. It's difficult to combine it and gain insight."

'Broken Internet Systems'

Specifically, the Adobe-Microsoft partnership:

  • Integrates Adobe Campaign and Microsoft Dynamics 365 that creates a single view of the customer for personalized experiences.
  • Integrates Adobe Analytics with Microsoft Power BI to pull behavioral data into Power BI.
  • Hosts Adobe Experience Manager Sites Managed Service on Microsoft Azure, which Adobe officials promised will lower management and resource costs.

Abhay Parasnis, executive vice president and chief technology for Adobe, said businesses spend far too much time "solving for broken internet systems."

Microsoft's Guthrie, who shared the stage with Parasnis in the three-hour keynote, agreed these are problems Microsoft hears "over and over." Its partnership with Adobe will help common customers solve common system problems.

The integrations, he said, helps organizations combine business data and take the outcomes into a CRM pipeline for "rich data visualization."

Guthrie added customers can host data in one of Microsoft Azure's 38 regional data centers and deploy code that will keep data inside those centers.

Semantic Data Model

The new partners also announced a collaboration on a semantic data model that will standardize how data is structured and improve the time it takes to gain insights.

AppDynamics, Acxiom, Dun & Bradstreet, Qualtrics, Zendesk, [24]7 and MasterCard are helping Adobe and Microsoft develop the new data model and build apps for a common language. Officials promised an update at Microsoft Build 2017 on May 10-12.

Massive Opportunity

Adobe executives also used the morning keynote to show their focus on becoming an "experience business" versus just digital marketing.

It did away with its "Adobe Marketing Cloud" overarching branding approach and now goes with "Adobe Experience Cloud." Marketing Cloud is now just one pillar of the Experience Cloud along with Analytics Cloud, Advertising Cloud, Creative Cloud for Enterprise and Document Cloud for Enterprise.

Adobe CEO Narayen called the experience business a "massively bigger opportunity for all of us" over digital marketing alone.

The experience business makes technology transparent and allows consumers to set their terms for interactions, said Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager for Adobe's digital marketing business unit.

Rencher, speaking to this morning's keynote audience, said delivering experiences is no longer a marketing charter. All departments are "stewards of experience," he said.

He plugged the Experience Cloud, telling the audience they "need Adobe Experience Cloud" because of its products, services, extensibility and robust partner ecosystem.