Adobe digital marketing chief: Experience is the third wave of digital transformation

GM of digital marketing for the marketing and creative technology vendor claims organisations are entering the third wave of enterprise transformation thanks to higher consumer expectations

Brad Rencher on stage at this year's Adobe Digital Marketing Summit
Brad Rencher on stage at this year's Adobe Digital Marketing Summit

Organisations are entering the third wave of enterprise transformation where experience is the competitive advantage, Adobe’s digital marketing leader claims.

Speaking on the opening day of the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in Las Vegas, EVP and GM of digital marketing, Brad Rencher, said digital marketing is not about technology, organisations or even customers, it’s about people.

“We are all in the experience business – it’s that simple and that big,” he said. “Historically, marketers have been nurturers, advocates of that customer experience, and that’s never been more important than it is now. No longer are we in an economy of products and services, experiences are what matter. Affinity is based more on moments than materials, and that’s especially true of millennials.

“We need to understand we’re no longer in the business of selling products, we’re in the business of selling experiences. Product is just along for the ride. This is our new reality.”

Experience is the overarching theme of this year’s Adobe Digital Marketing Summit, which has attracted more than 10,000 attendees to Las Vegas. During his welcome speech, Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayan, strived to position the vendor’s digital offering as a much bigger play than purely marketing, and the rise of experience as reflective of how digital and physical worlds are blurring.

“Companies everywhere are doing great marketing campaigns, but if that’s all we talk about, we’re missing the point,” he told attendees. “Digital can transform every aspect of our lives.

“Life is made so much better through digital experiences... some have to blow our minds, some have to go completely unnoticed and blend into our everyday lives. Be personal , predictive, work flawlessly and beautifully. This is the experience era.”

Rencher positioned experience as the third wave of enterprise disruption stemming from technology and digital over the past 50 years. The first wave was in the back office, and saw organisations revolutionising manufacturing processes through platforms such as ERP to improve production and operational capability.

The second wave, which Rencher labelled the “front office wave”, included the rise of CRM and digitising the customer conversations, making sales more efficient in the process.

However, while back-office and front-office improvements once provided competitive advantage, these have become table stakes. Today, Rencher said we’re at the beginning of the third wave of enterprise transformation, the “business experience wave”.

“Whereas the previous two waves were about us and our businesses, and about doing our jobs more efficiently, this new wave isn’t about us or what we sell, it’s about the consumer,” he said. “It’s the experience we provide consumers as they shop, buy and consume our products.”

Rencher suggested experience success also comes down to doing our jobs so well, the consumer doesn’t know we exist.

“It’s about closing the gap between people and the things they want to do and people they want to be with,” he said. “We need to deliver there, then get out of the way. CEOs to receptionists are now stewards of the experience.

“We must surprise and delight our customers at every touchpoint.”

Rencher saw today’s experience-driven economy as inevitable from the moment early digital disruption began.

“It’s the new competitive battleground and state of how we all compete in the market,” he said. “The early evolvers will be wildly successful.Everyone has a voice now and boy, do they use them.”

To create an experience agenda, Rencher outlined four key areas he believed organisations should measure themselves against. The first is knowing and respecting the customer.

“This is about anticipating, predicting and delivering the experience I want before I ask them,” he said. “And it considers and respects my privacy.”

The second key element is to speak to customer in one unified voice. Rencher’s third tip is to make the technology transparent.

“The medium is not the message, experience is,” he said. “Forcing your app in my car in your marketing process just because you think it’s cool, is not cool.”

Lastly, Rencher said the business experience wave is to delight the customer at every turn. This, in turn, should see organisations rapidly innovating and disrupting themselves.

“A five-star experience today is tomorrow’ one-star, take it or leave it experience,” he added.

Adobe is betting on data and content as the foundations for experience delivery, and announced a number of product enhancements along these lines this year. These include a raft of new data science and machine learning capabilities across its Marketing Cloud stack, as well as its new Adobe Marketing Cloud Co-op, aimed at tackling cross-device, people-based marketing by stitching together device information from different brands into a cooperative pool.

  • Nadia Cameron travelled to Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in Las Vegas as a guest of Adobe.

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