Entrepreneur Ira Lessack kicked off the annual Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)conference by posing an interesting question to a panel of experts. Digitalmarketing has been discussed for years now, he noted, but where is it on ahockey stick curve?
For a variety of reasons, the consensus of those on stage agreed it remains near the bottom of the stick, a refreshingly candidview that may set the tone for the Evolve'14 conference that runs through tomorrow in San Diego.
"I think we're somewhere down towards the bottom," said RoyFielding, senior principal scientist for Adobe. He said digital marketers havegotten very good at starting to analyze where they need more data, "but wehaven't quite reached the point where we're able to communicate with others. SoI think we need to focus more on the ability not just to perceive the data, butto understand it."
Two other panelists answered the question in ways that mirrored the expandingvision of digital marketing to deliver relevant, personalized content toindividuals across any device.
"The global plan we have laid is so massive, and I think that keeps uson the lower half of that hockey stick," said Jacqui Kearns, vice presidentand leader of digital technology for Dun & Bradstreet. "Everyday weread something new. There's no expert in the field."
Similarly, Sean Browne, senior director of web marketing for the humanresources company Success Factors, said many companies are blind to theever-growing range of possibilities.
"Many companies don't understand what's possible right now. Many bigcompanies do, but they're unable to take advantage of all the great tools,"he said. "When you look around, I think the challenge is often just gettingyour colleagues to even imagine what's possible and to figure out a way to takeadvantage of that together."
Lessack himself said there's too much focus on small technical issues insteadof the greater mission of delivering valuable messages to consumers.
"There's still a lot of noise," he said. "Things are stillmoving at glacial speed."
One factor that accounts for the sluggish pace has been the rapid growth ofmobile devices like tablets and phones. Just as marketers were mastering the artof building websites, they needed to figure out how to serve other types ofdevices simultaneously.
"For us, the challenge over the past 18 months has been how do youget there fast and not half-ass it, not put something out there that's notmobile-enabled and not tablet-friendly where you're trying to take abrowswer and just squeeze it in," said Kearns.
"I think people want it personalized. They don't want to be spoken to enmasse. They want to be spoken to one-to-one. They want to be spoken to in thelanguage that they're in, whatever market that they're in," she added.
A bit later, Fielding came back to the challenge posed by mobile, noting thatmobile development has a different focus than web development.
"One of the things we've been working on is trying to add moredynamicity into that process so you can build mobile apps the same way you buildyour website, using the same products, the same content," he said. Fieldingsaid PhoneGap, the free Adobemobile app development framework, is getting more integrated into AEM "soyou can build your own apps in much the same way you build your ownwebsites."
Title image by PhotoStock 10 / Shutterstock.