Adobe digital marketing chief: 4 competencies required to be an experience-led business

Brad Rencher shares the common attributes helping experience-led businesses succeed; plus Adobe CTO discusses its efforts to create an experience technology standard

Brad Rencher
Brad Rencher

Every organisation looking to become a successful experience-led business needs a combination of context, the right experiences in real-time, and technology integration that drives innovation, Adobe’s digital marketing chief says.

Speaking during the opening keynote of this year’s Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, executive vice-president and GM of digital marketing, Brad Rencher, highlighted several competencies helping organisations become more customer-led businesses, regardless of industry or size.

The first is a focus on context. “Context is the starting line – it’s what we do intuitively as humans,” Rencher told attendees. “In different situations, we as humans don’t change but the context can be dramatically different. Technology helps deliver context at scale.

“And you need to evolve your data strategy to a context strategy.”

But while “context gives you your cue”, it’s no use if organisations can’t follow up with the right experience for their customer. For Rencher, this starts with beautiful design, which can then be scaled through automation and delivered to millions of individuals online. And this means rethinking your content supply chain, he said.

“You must design compelling experiences engineered for speed and scale,” he said.

Rencher’s third imperative was that “milliseconds make the journey”. Much like any human-to-human interaction, building a relationship between brand and customer consists of a series of interactions, often happening in milliseconds and through different channels, devices and departments.

“Managing these relationships seamlessly seems simple to consumer, but from the view of the enterprise, it’s very difficult,” Rencher admitted. “This is especially true when you’re bound to legacy systems that were never intended to scale in real-time. But they’re not going away.

“Journeys only happen if you master the milliseconds.”

Rencher’s fourth piece of advice is “integrate to innovate”. “Organisations want to put customers first but none of us has the budget to hire in a new team to focus on new experience initiatives,” he pointed out.

“Technology can be a catalyst to break down the walls between teams and bring them closer together by unifying data, content and workflows. This will unlock innovation through integration,” he said.

Rencher said businesses are in the midst of an experience wave, which he claimed was the single biggest disruption to enterprises in decades. Organisations that haven’t taken the initial steps to become experience business with a holistic view of their customer are already falling behind their competitors, he said.

“This is the new battleground where we’ll all compete for the foreseeable future,” he said. “It was inevitable from the moment early [digital] disruption began.”

Adobe’s push to provide experience tech for the enterprise

Adobe’s looking to become the experience technology provider of the enterprise, and this week repositioned its suite of growing cloud-based solutions under the Experience Cloud moniker. The vendor is counting on its heritage in creative, content and digital analytics to help cement its position as a suitable choice to lead the experience technology pack.

Both Rencher and Adobe CTO and executive VP, Abhay Parasnis, took swipes on-stage at competing vendors from a more traditional enterprise software background now looking to address customer experience management - notably, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce.

“You can’t be in ERP or CRM and just decide you’re in experience,” Rencher claimed. “ You need to have come from digital experience.”

Parasnis said an experience-led business requires rethinking everything, from content creation to how you orchestrate engagement, measure it and personalise.

“Simply slapping on a mobile UI on an ERP or CRM isn’t good enough,” he said. “This requires a modern experience platform designed from the ground up for a real-time, contextually aware world.”

Adobe’s core platform principles are to speak the language of the experience business, provide an open ecosystem to enable integration across technology and function, and put intelligence at its core, Parasnis said.

“We already touch every facet of the digital journey, from creation of content to rich analytics and continuous experience optimisation,” he said. “But a big challenge customers face is that they spend far too much time solving broken systems and processes. They’re using the language of the back office and sales automation to describe these experiences.

“It’s time for a single experience language across enterprise.”

To do that, Adobe is looking to build an open industry standard for common data language it calls Experience Data Management (XDM). It’s already working with Microsoft on a common data schema and Parasnis said more partner data will come into the fold.

The vendor has also made advancements to its underlying cloud architecture, most notably through expansion of its Sensei machine learning framework and utilisation.

In addition, it’s working to extend its platform’s reach through a partnership with Microsoft, and encourage third-party players to collaborate via open APIs through its I/O developer portal. According to Parasnis, more than 700 million API calls have been made to its platform to date.

“Our primary design centre of the Adobe platform is to blend the art of content with the science of data at massive scale,” he added.

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