With Experience Cloud, Adobe Graduates from Marketing to CX

Adobe wants you to know, it’s not just for the marketing department anymore.

Last week, at its annual Summit conference in Las Vegas, Adobe revealed “Experience Cloud,” a new integrated suite of solutions designed to manage the total customer experience. The idea is, if you want to provide seamless, highly personalized digital customer experiences across multiple devices and departments, Adobe has all the software solutions you need on one master platform.

To create the “Experience Cloud,” Adobe didn’t really add any new solutions so much as it reorganized the components of its existing Marketing Cloud suite. Adobe Experience Manager (web/mobile CMS), Target (web/mobile optimization), Social (social listening and publishing), Campaign (email/marketing automation) and Primetime (video publishing) will continue to be an integrated offering under Marketing Cloud. However Adobe Analytics and Audience Manager have been broken out to form “Analytics Cloud” and Adobe Media Optimizer will exist on its own as “Advertising Cloud.”

Source: Adobe

Adobe Enters a Crowded Market

The shift in focus from “Marketing” to “Experience” is a welcome one, and it’s what we advocated back in 2015 with our research report on The Customer Experience Cloud (image below). However, Adobe is only the latest vendor that’s trying to own “Customer Experience” Last year, Salesforce and Oracle both revealed their own versions of an over arching “Experience Cloud” suite that serves several functions across sales, service and marketing. There are, however, key differences in the approaches, and product capabilities offered by each company. This means it’s possible, and even advantageous to use different solutions from across all three companies, rather than placing all bets with a single vendor.

Source: Altimeter, a Prophet Company

Adobe’s Strength Is Still Content

Unlike Salesforce and Oracle, Adobe’s Experience Cloud is still pretty marketing-centric. There aren’t any solutions that are explicitly designed for managing other components of the customer experience, such as sales and service. In fact, most of the Experience Cloud is still focused on the creation, management and delivery of content across paid and owned channels, which is very much a marketing function. Contrast that with Salesforce and Oracle both integrating parts of their CRM and Service Cloud platforms with their Marketing Clouds to offer a set of department-spanning tools that manage CX.

However, Adobe’s strategy is to double down on content, and make it the center of the customer experience, rather than the multi-department functionality of its competitors. Not only does Adobe offer integrations with its market leading Creative Cloud (home to Photoshop and InDesign), it has top-rated solutions for managing web and mobile experiences in the form of Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target and Adobe Analytics, something Salesforce and (to a lesser extent) Oracle lack. By owning content and the website/mobile app, Adobe makes itself a key component of not just marketing, but sales, service and even product teams.

Microsoft Fills Adobe’s Data Gap

In another smart move, Adobe is shoring up its traditional weakness in customer data by partnering with Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM platform. Adobe solutions such as Experience Manager and Campaign can now use profile data stored in Dynamics to fire off targeted messages or personalized experiences to customers in real-time, which has been a key feature of both Salesforce and Oracle’s marketing solutions. With the Microsoft integration, Adobe is finally in position to offer the three essential data components needed for CX, web analytics (unknown customers), CRM (known customers) and third-party customer data (with Adobe Audience Manager).

Adobe Adds Artificial Intelligence and VR to the Mix

Adobe Sensei joins IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein as the latest enterprise artificial intelligence system. Mirroring Adobe’s strategy of focusing on content, Sensei is designed to calculate which piece of content should be delivered to a particular customer, and what channel and time should they receive the content. All of these complex calculations can be done in real-time by Sensei. Although limited in scope, this is an extremely valuable way to put AI to use in a customer experience context.

Although Adobe’s ventures in virtual reality are still in the experimental stage, we did get to see an extremely entertaining demo where an Adobe engineer was able to dynamically place an ad in a virtual reality environment that was occupied by actress and Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon. Another interesting demo was an Adobe engineer virtually entering a content repository and physically manipulating all the stored images with his hands. It’s still a little clunky, but Adobe’s already giving us some very interesting use cases for VR, a topic I’ll be covering for Altimeter in the second half of this year.

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