The Adobe Digital Marketing Summit is over, but the customer experience lessons learned continue on. I had the opportunity to speak with Adobe VP of Enterprise Marketing, Kevin Cochrane, on some of these lessons and where Adobe sees the future of digital marketing. Here's what I learned.

Personalization IS/IS NOT New

In the opening keynote Brad Rencher, Adobe SVP and GM Digital Marketing Business Unit said that personalization has been around for fifteen years. Fifteen years -- think about that. But personalization today is not the same as it was back then. So what's different? That's the question we asked Cochrane. He gave us three reasons:

  1. Consumer Expectations are very different: According to Cochrane the immediacy and the relevancy are very different than they were ten years ago. We are much more time constrained than we ever were, attentions are short and everyone is vying for that attention. Because of this we need to quickly be able to identify if something is meaningful and to do that marketers have to be speaking to something that they need -- hence the need for personalization. Before, people thought they wanted personalization, now they require it.
  2. The technology wasn't available: You had personalization engines 10-15 years ago, but they were different. Built and maintained by developers (and not updated easily), they often impacted site performance and delivery. As a result, this feature was often removed from the website because they become frustrated with the results, or the rules became too brittle, or subject matter expertise lost or the site's performance was just too bad. Now you have tools that make it possible for marketers to drive personalization decisions and logic.
  3. We know more about people: Social networks, internal social communities, commenting, rating and such, marketers know more about consumers than ever before. And these consumers expect you to take advantage of this information you can learn about them, so more relevant content can be driven their way.

Will we ever know too much about people and that people will get scared? (Big Data, Big Brother). Cochrane believes that there are two aspects to this issue. The first is on an external network or website where you are not a logged in as a customer. This just means that there are things marketers can do without knowing who you are, and these things allow them to personalize your experience to some extent.

The other aspect is when you are actually logging into a site where you are a customer. Then you expect them to know who you are and expect a deeply personalized experience. Cochrane says that those who don't provide this deeper level of personalization in this case are missing the boat.

But what about when a vendor has data about a visitor, but it's not up to date and relevant? Cochrane says you want to do two things. First identify patterns of behavior for people like a visitor. This would allow a marketers to make inferences on what you might want to buy and what you might want to recommend (based on past and current purchase history, for example). Of course, this is not a manual process, you want to take advantage of sophisticated algorithms to improve the recommendations offered. Cochrane says manual rules do not work. Cochrane also said you want to do predictive marketing such as what a person might want to purchase in the future.

The Digital Marketing Suite - Configuration Made Simple

With the news that it's now easy to configure all the tools of the Digital Marketing Suite to work together (it's configuration not integration), I questioned if that meant everything was now on the same underlying platform. Cochrane said no and it never will be. He said there's big data (like the 6 trillion transactions recorded per year, stored within the 26 different data centers, 38 petabytes of data) and then there's content. Content belongs in a content repository where you store all your content and metadata, but big data -- all those transactions and signals -- belong somewhere else completely. There will always be two data syncs.

With CQ 5.5 you have your repository (on-premises or in the cloud) and Adobe connects all the core content services into that, like web analytics, dynamic media delivery, advanced search and merchandizing, etc. These content services are externally hosted and simply injected into the CQ 5.5 framework via its OSGI server application framework (where content services such as content repository, workflow, and the UI components used to build the GUI are hosted). These additional content services are connected here from the data centers and made available to the CQ 5.5 framework. Cochrane said there are totally different architectural requirements and will always be separate.

Everything Will be Digital

Shantanu Narayen, President and CEO of Adobe Systems Incorporated, in the opening keynote said that the future will be digital. It's all a digital publishing process he believes -- you are creating digital content/media and you have different output channels/experiences for it, like an iPad or a print magazine.

Shantanu is keen on transforming the whole creative workflow process -- the end to end content lifecycle. That would encompass everything, how newspapers and magazine are published, how the iPad editions of those things are published and websites, and how that's driving the process of advertising and marketing campaigns.

Digital Asset Management is at the core of these processes. DAM to Adobe is more than what most people consider it. To Adobe, it encompasses all assets, including documents, PDFs and more. It's also more than a static asset store delivered behind the firewall. Adobe sees it as a center point for collaboration and delivery of rich media as an experience. It's about a rich media experience.

Final Thoughts

It's very interesting to see where Adobe has come from and where it is headed. It's vision of digital marketing and the complete customer experience relies on a number of technologies: social media, web content management, analytics, creative design tools, the cloud. When combined together in the ways that Adobe has done, one can see how to build a customer experience that is truly focused on the customer.

Did you attend the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit? What were your key lessons learned?