Business TrendsCustomer Experience

The Bar Was Raised at #AdobeSummit 2018

Story Highlights

  • The customer now drives organizational growth
  • Data-driven business is the future
  • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are transforming customer experience
  • Personalization at scale is now possible

Adobe Summit 2018 was an incredible experience for me and the fourteen thousand plus people in attendance. This is my 2nd year being invited as one of Adobe’s social media influencers and I continue to be blown away by the amazing people they have working for them and what they are doing in the enterprise space. In this post I will give you a peek into the experience, what they are doing, and the context of how it is changing business and technology.

Creating Experience Business

True business leaders continue to push into customer experience as the next great business strategy. Anyone who knows Adobe Summit, knows it is really about creating customer experiences and I am so happy that this is the entire focus of this conference. Adobe is bridging the gap between old-school business thinking of cost controls and efficiency to customer-driven business that drives revenue through creating amazing customer experiences. This creates a win/win for brands and customers versus the win/lose of using marketing just to generate a sale independent of a relationship with the customer. The old way of doing business was an exercise in doing the minimum stimulus to generate revenue. It was “take” focused model instead of a true exchange of value.

“People Buy Experiences, Not Products.” Shantanu Narayen – Adobe CEO

Leadership and Change Require the Right Company Culture. For those who know me, you know even though I am an influencer for a handful of brands, I only do this with brands I truly believe in and Adobe is no exception. Their DNA and history has been about making incredible products that fuel the creative digital world. What many people don’t know is they are equally amazing in the work they are doing in enterprise marketing solutions. They go beyond slogans, and you can see they live and breath what they preach about being customer design driven in everything they do. Adobe Summit allows you to do a DNA test and meet tons of people from Adobe and you can get a great sense of the company culture from the experience they create internally which then flows out in their solutions. You can’t hide it when your company believes in what they are doing.

Real change in the business world requires buy-in. Adobe is leading the right conversations. By focusing on customer experience, they are creating the conversations that drive many other business decisions. Once a company can see the business benefit of being customer-centric, then leadership will move more resources towards it. This is the fundamental shift happening right now thanks to artificial intelligence that can drive personalization in a distracted world where customer attention and affinity is now having a real impact on revenue. This isn’t just about technology, as I wrote before, it is the customer experience revolution! When business leaders finally see their customers as the future of their business and their experiences as the differentiation in the marketplace, then those who execute on that strategy create new proof for the value of customer-centricity.

Attempting the Shot

Hack the Bracket with Adobe Analytics

This year Mark Boothe, Brad Robins, and the amazing social and Adobe Experience Cloud team put together an experience called hack the bracket. They showcased Adobe analytics tools to help people predict the March Madness college basketball winners. The marketing message behind it was “Taking Your Shot”. The subtle underlying message that is so powerful is that businesses all have a shot at leading their industry thanks to analytics and technology. They inspire and drive businesses to re-imagine their business in a way that drives huge value to the customer by being customer design driven.

60% of CIOs are predicting their spending on business intelligence and analytics to increase in 2018 – IDG Research CIO Tech Poll

Analytics is Driving Business Decisions. Companies are experiencing an analytics transformation that is permeating the entire organization. Data is driving more decisions now in business than ever before and it will continue to do so as time moves on. AI and machine learning will help us extract actionable insight from the data lakes organizations have created. Whether it is predicting who will win in your basketball bracket, or what color of button each customer is most likely to click on, data is the fuel of all future decision making.

Ascend2 Most Important Data-Driven Marketing Objectives

Adobe is providing leadership not just in tools, but their leadership is creating and shaping leaders in the marketplace. This is the shadow leadership effect that is impacting the world. One of the reasons I write for is I feel it is an honor to be able to help shape the minds of C-suite business leaders. It is also my duty as a customer and employee advocate to bring the messages that the ivory tower leaders need to hear. It is no longer a conversation about doing things for your customer or for profit. The marketplace and the digital transformation of the world has created an environment where customer attention is once again a rare and valuable commodity. This change is forcing businesses to stop just generally optimizing from behind spreadsheets, dashboards, and reports, and start listening to their customers. They are forced to find the small data and connect it to the individual customer journey.

Inspiration is making someone feel they can do it. Businesses need to know that if they focus on their customers and deliver value and make decisions based on their customers that they can not only survive, but they can thrive. Software is creating leadership. It sounds odd to say that, but customer-centric software solutions that drive business growth and revenue are actually shaping the C-suite and changing the mindset of business leaders. That is something that countless consultants and change agents have tried but in whole failed to really accomplish. Software solutions naturally facilitate change in an organization in a way that just leadership alone often fails to do. Leadership is often the focus on organizational change, but leadership moves through people, while software moves through the whole organization. Software for the win.

Adobe Sneaks… OMG!

Adobe Experience Cloud Sneaks

Every year Adobe brings out comedians for their Adobe Sneaks segment of Summit. This year Leslie Jones from SNL was the guest. Then they roll out their next level peek at what they are creating. The contrast of tech people and often non-tech comedians is a winner for sure. The general message from the outside world is, “You guys are some nerds, and need to get out more.” Aside from the good times of getting funny commentary while some very smart “nerds” showcase the capabilities of some of Adobe’s enterprise software solutions, there is something much more valuable and that is the contrast between the technology that is changing the world and society.

The world is driven by two audiences. These are the innovators and society. In this case, the comedian represents society, and the fourteen thousand plus attendees who represent leadership at their companies and the Adobe leadership represent the innovators. I love the moments when the comedian almost gets glossy-eyed as some engineer or data scientist comes out and starts talking all technical digging into the software. There is a point that the common person just can’t follow along and that is usually where a funny joke happens. Society may not understand the technology driving change in the world, but they can understand it’s significance.

The convergence of the two audiences is where the vision of the future is seen. There is a moment however where Adobe showcases the next generation of abilities and software that you see the light go off for the comedian and they can plainly see how this technology will change the world. That moment is a glimpse into the future that will affect us all. Last year, that was the Minority Report type of sign that changed in real-time to be personalized to who was walking by it. This year they did it again with some really amazing technology. Here is a quick summary:


AI image recognition connected to the ability to shop for items in an image in real-time. This happens to be one of my favorite ones this year because the opportunities for this are simply huge.


Takes your analytics to the next level of insight. You can drag and drop metrics and variables to get instant insight into your business, customers, and their journey with your brand as well as websites and apps not owned by your company.


Intelligent Content Insights uses machine learning to improve digital experiences and generates content insights to drive conversions.


AI-powered personalization. Perfect Path will help marketers scale consumer journies while personalizing their experiences using Adobe Sensei to create and execute real-time inbound marketing communications.


Master Plan is giving organizations the ability to coordinate and plan multi-channel campaigns with cross-channel composers, centralized calendar, and all channel activities that break down the old siloed teams and communication utilizing AI to take organizations to the next level.


Using the AI power of Adobe Sensei, Video Ad AI can optimize video ad performance making recommendations and utilizing predictive performance modeling.


Launch It masters tag management of website content using machine learning. Launch It automates the entire process and uses natural language processing to recommend additional optimizations.

The Future of Experience Business

Artificial Intelligence in elegant practice. One thing we learned during Adobe Summit 2018 was that AI is a difference maker. Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence and machine learning, but Adobe is providing solutions that are not just novel, but amazingly powerful. Going to Adobe Summit is like stepping into the future and seeing how business is going to be. They are literally the tip of the spear in enterprise technology, they aren’t talking about it, they are doing it.

Experience business requires technology to scale. For those who read my posts, you know I talk about the future of business and customer experience a lot. I have been an advocate for customer-driven/ customer-centric business for a long time. It is amazing for me to see this become a reality. The emerging technology now is the missing piece for businesses to actually treat their customers as individuals. Technology isn’t moving business away from their customers, it is creating a connection from the ivory tower of the C-suite down to the revenue generating customers that drive business success.

I hope you enjoyed this post as I shared just a portion of the amazing things I experienced at Adobe Summit 2018. This post is more of what was talked about and I will write another post on Medium about my personal experience and all the wonderful people I got to spend time with at Summit. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below and if you found this valuable don’t forget to share it with your network.

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Ross Quintana

Founder of SocialMagnets, I am passionate about social media, influence, innovation, strategy, and marketing. I love to help people learn and understand the digital world. I stretch people's thinking and share my analysis of information, tools, and strategies in social media. Let's connect

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