Adobe CEO: It's the decade of the CMO and CIO partnership

Adobe CEO discusses the impact of COVID-19 crisis on digital transformation, while Adobe's digital marketing chief highlights raft of latest platform improvements

We’ve entered the decade of the CMO and CIO, where partnership between the two functions has become the critical element driving business success in the digital age.

That’s the view of Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen, who opened this week’s now online-only Adobe Summit with a keynote reflecting both on the exclusively digital state of affairs brought about by the current COVID-19 crisis, as well as insights into what is helping businesses transform and become customer-led.

“The most successful digital businesses have several things in common, one of which is a strong partnership between the CIO and CMO,” Narayen said. “In fact, it’s the decade of the CMO and the CIO.

“In the past, CMOs brought marketing and communications expertise with strong knowledge of customer journeys, while CIOs understood how to architect systems, unite data and keep businesses running. But interactions were functional and limited. All that is changing. Marketing has become more data-driven, CIOs have become more customer-centric, and leaders are working more closely than ever before.

“CMO-CIO partnerships develop compelling, customer experiences at scale. And it’s critical as a whole the c-suite is aligned around this customer centricity.”  

While it’s clear digital transformation has become the mandate for all companies and leaders across industries in recent years, Narayen pointed out digital is even more important as more and more people rely on connected services to work, engage, play and buy.

“Our mission to change the world through digital experiences seems particularly significant now,” he continued. “We want to empower, inspire and transform industries and move the world forward with our technology.

“Digital transformation has always been about using technology to solve problems. That’s true now more than ever. Whether it’s replacing in-person conference with digital events, or engaging customers virtually, the theme is the same: Digital is revolutionising the way we interact with each other.

“While many have taken steps towards this, the environment we face in 2020 is only accelerating the need and urgency.”

Marketers and technologists must come together as a community to share best practices because engaging with customers digitally is paramount, Narayen said.

“It’s about supporting critical work in an exclusively digital world,” he said. “Think about ecommerce bringing the items we need most to our doorstep… government and businesses alike are reaching customers and employees with critical information across email, mobile and Web so we can stay on top of this fast-changing environment. Teams are collaborating with virtual documents, transacting with paperless contracts and e-signatures. And digital tools are transforming education…

“Digital isn’t just reshaping our lives, it’s driving the economy.”

In this vein, Adobe this week debuted a new Digital Economy Index, a real-time offering combining trillions of transactions and insights gleaned through its global customer user base, as well as from economists and government operatives.  

Narayen noted initial insights show digital deflation due to falling prices of consumer electronics and apparel, as well as significant increases in purchasing online. For example, in the past few weeks, commerce sales were up 25 per cent in the US and 33 per cent in the UK. Daily online grocery sales in the US also increased 100 per cent week-over-week in March. And in the first few weeks of March, home fitness equipment saw a 55 per cent boost in sales online.

Adobe has also launched a CX playbook, based on its own experience of digital transformation. Narayen pitched the playbook as offering an action plan, assessment tools and more to help accelerate transformation. The playbook covers six key areas: Digital-first, data insights, scalable content, optimised personalisation, customer journey management and pervasive commerce.

“Digital transformation is the mandate for all companies and leaders across industries. Putting a laser focus on customer experience management – that’s where transformation meets growth,” he said. “We know delivering on the promise of customer experience management requires integrated apps and services, combined with right talent and processes. It requires a broad ecosystem, creativity, and a customer-obsessed culture across the whole organisation.”  

Latest Adobe product enhancements

In the next keynote, Adobe’s recently installed EVP and GM digital experience business unit, Anil Chakravarty, covered a raft of product enhancements, news and partnership integrations across the Adobe Experience Platform.

Key to these are hundreds of new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-powered features available through Adobe’s Sensei offering at the underlying platform level. To help, Chakravarty highlighted the open ecosystem and partnerships Adobe is pursuing, a list including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Medallia, Hootsuite, PayPal and more.

Adobe’s Microsoft partnership, for example, struck more than four years ago, has resulted in dozens of integrations as well as the Open Data Initiative (ODI) launched last year in partnership with SAP. Chakravarty continued Adobe Experience Platform is now integrated with ODI.

Another key tech partnership is with ServiceNow, and Chakravarty said the pair boast of bidirectional integration between Adobe’s real-time customer profile and ServiceNow’s customer service management, “helping provide personalised service delivery, better segmentation for campaigns and offers”.

Also at the platform level, Chakravarty noted improvements to data collection, with new SDKs and data collection network capabilities allowing users to stream event-level data to any first or third-party destinations in real time. The aim here is to simplify data collection, give more control and improve site and app performance, he said.

The Experience Edge offering is about streamlining and accelerating data transfers, enabling global distributed profiles, real-time audience segmentation, decisioning and stronger experience delivery, Chakravarty said.

Among Adobe’s latest API services, meanwhile, is the real-time data platform, a service providing simplified management of unknown and known customer profiles, which act as destination service to power multiple marketing use cases.

Customer journey analytics will enable Adobe platform users to discover omnichannel insights in real-time, Chakravarty continued, by bringing interactive, self-service query experience to the broader customer data sets in the experience platform. There’s also Journey orchestration, a real-time intelligence engine that automates event-based interactions based on individual actions across every channel.

Adobe also this week introduced two new classes of intelligent services built on Sensei: Customer AI, and Attribution AI. Customer AI is about helping marketers accurately uncover specific customer segments and target each with right marketing campaign, while Attribution AI is designed to detail the conversion impact of earned, owned and paid media, informing resourcing decisions. Both are now available globally.

Three more AI-powered services are due out later this year: Journey AI, which analyses behavioural data to help active experiences at optimal times; Content and Commerce AI, to measure content’s impact in driving merchandise performance; and Leads AI, which automatically routes leads to the right sales representatives to maximise their effectiveness.

In addition, Chakravarty flagged several new features across the Marketing Cloud, Analytics Cloud, Advertising Cloud and Commerce Cloud.

For example, the new Adobe Experience Manager as-a-cloud service is an CXM app aimed at providing modern, scalable, secure and agile content management, digital asset management, digital signage management and customer comms applications.

A new conversational experience for Marketo Engage is designed to enable brands to scale one-to-one customer interactions to drive demand and sales through chat windows, displaying PDF content, capturing contact details and booking meetings with customers directly.

In Analytics Cloud, a new mobile app will give access to data and insights from any device, and can analyse customer journeys across physical and digital touchpoints. New customisable scorecards can help eliminate adhoc data requests, Chakravarty said.

In Advertising Cloud, there are now native integrations with Adobe Analytics, aimed at provider advertisers with greater ability to track, analyse and activate paid media, he said. Insight include clickthrough and view-through data flowing between apps.

In Adobe Commerce Cloud, new product recommendations will be available globally to Magento Commerce customers from April, allowing users to deploy automated recommendations to storefront. Chakravarty said fresh B2B purchasing workflow streamlines pre-purchase authorisation process, putting in place rules to govern when quotes and orders must be approved before submitting.

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