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Adobe Summit 2022 - personalization at scale, metaverse, real-time CDP, AI and more

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright March 15, 2022
Adobe Summit 2022 opens with a theme of personalization at scale and announcements on metaverse readiness, real-time CDP, AI and more

Shantanu Narayen & John Donahue - Adobe Summit screengrab
Shantanu Narayen & John Donahue (Adobe Summit screengrab)

Adobe Summit kicked off today with news of how the vendor will support creative and marketing teams to build metaverse experiences for their customers. Meanwhile for those still focused on the real world, there were substantial announcements including advances on real-time customer data, new capabilities from the Sensei AI engine, the launch of a new digital learning platform, improved workflow automation, a healthcare industry version of Adobe Experience Cloud, and new ecosystem partnerships ranging from Anaplan to Walmart.

More on those announcements in a moment. The opening keynote set the overall tone, with Anil Chakravarthy, President of the Digital Experience Business at Adobe, explaining that personalization has moved on from simply delivering a relevant digital experience to each customer through the right channel. It's now all about making the digital journey personal, at scale. He elaborated:

Today and going forward, success will be defined by a new standard, and that is the ability to achieve personalization at scale. That means delivering those relevant experiences in real time for every customer on every channel, both online and offline, including the immersive experiences that continue to grow in prominence, and in a way that respects their privacy and delivers value to them each time.

Among the customers interviewed by Shantanu Narayen, Adobe CEO, it fell to John Donahoe, President and CEO of Nike, to sum up how the pandemic became a forcing factor in moving his company to accelerate the roll-out of a more digitally connected relationship with its customers. He said:

We were looking at the consumer, and the consumer wanted to have a seamless, premium, personalized experience. In fact, they expect that, increasingly, and that forces us to embrace digital — not just in our end-user experiences, not just in consumer experiences, but every step through our value chain.

So if we're going to be direct-to-consumer, our warehouses have to be able to not just ship to retailers, but also ship directly to consumers and do it in a close way. Our design, our product creation, has to be more digitally enabled, so that we can make the product that the consumer wants. And so in many ways the consumer insight is what drove the acceleration around our digital transformation.

The metaverse and real-time CDP

The metaverse story, inevitably, was mostly about positioning for future capabilities rather than what's possible today in Adobe Experience Cloud or Creative Cloud. There were previews of the upcoming Substance 3D Modeler and augmented reality (AR) shopping tools, along with talk of supporting users in the creation of virtual personas and possessions that are portable across different immersive experiences. Adobe says it is collaborating with graphics card vendor NVIDIA and brands including Coca-Cola, Epic and Nascar to develop "the key ingredients of metaverse readiness," and urged others to get started now on creating 3D and immersive content. A new Metaverse Playbook explains how agencies and brands can adapt to the new demands of designing in 3D and immersive environments.

New capabilities in Real-Time CDP include integration of digital engagement data with customer profiles held in Adobe Target. The aim is to support large-scale personalization across millions of web experiences, in milliseconds. To speed response times, brands can connect to Adobe's edge network. Real-time commerce data will be added later this year with an integration to Adobe Commerce. A new integration of OneTrust’s consent management solution into Adobe Experience Platform helps respect privacy preferences. B2B marketers can take advantage of an edition of Real-Time CDP that supplies businesses with predictive intelligence around a user’s intent to purchase, along with integration to Adobe Marketo Measure.

The real-time CDP platform is already gaining traction with brands, with Australian supermarket and retail chain Coles, automaker General Motors, Major League Baseball, soccer team Real Madrid and UK retail bank TSB among those cited.

AI and more

The AI platform Adobe Sensei, now in use by over 80% of Adobe Experience Cloud customers to power digital experiences, introduced several new capabilities. These touch areas such as product recommendations, live search results, intelligent budget forecasting and allocation, cross-channel budget optimization and intelligent content creation and delivery. In particular:

  • Sales opportunity predictions will come to Marketo Engage later this year, based on applying predictive lead and account scoring to data insights coming out of Adobe Real-Time CDP.
  • Attribution AI models that help with the complex task of analyzing campaign performance across the customer journey and the marketing mix to gain insights on return on investment.
  • AI-driven product recommendations and highly personalized search results in Adobe Commerce.

Integration of Workfront into the Adobe family continues, strengthening workflow automation of content creation and delivery between Workfront, Creative Cloud Enterprise and Adobe Experience Manager Assets. Meanwhile a new partnership with Anaplan brings financial and budgeting capabilities to the work management tool. There's also a new Adobe Acrobat Sign connector for Workfront Fusion, easing the inclusion of e-signing into Adobe Workfront business processes.

Adobe enters the learning management space with the introduction of Adobe Learning Manager. This cloud-based learning platform eases the creation of digital learning experiences and is intended for use not only internally with employees but also with partners and customers. Early adopting customers include Domino’s Pizza, which is using it for staff training, and global communications business Publicis Group, which created a certification program in programmatic media planning and buying, as well as powering digital learning for its Open Apprenticeship program.

The introduction of Adobe Experience Cloud for Healthcare provides an industry-specific platform for bringing more personalized digital experiences to healthcare and wellness consumers.

Ecosystem expansion brings further new technology integrations to Adobe Experience Cloud. These include making Walmart's buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) application available to retailers for their own storefront locations, payment services from PayPal, enabling features such as free two-day shipping from FedEx, Walmart and real-time weather data from IBM subsidiary The Weather Company.

New developer tools provide the ability to build and deploy cloud-native web applications on Commerce and Experience Manager, create headless commerce capabilities, or add APIs for PDF services. There are also SDKs for integrations with Adobe Experience Platform and Adobe Real-Time CDP.

My take

It seems that every vendor feels the need to have a metaverse strategy these days, and in fairness Adobe will likely be the go-to platform for brands that want to be early adopters in the realms of marketing and digital experience. But the meat of today's announcements for most enterprises will be around the likes of real-time CDP, AI-enabled automation and some of the more detailed feature enhancements to individual products. There's plenty to digest here, but I can't help wondering if Adobe is focusing too much on the bells and whistles of leading-edge tech and not enough on the changing mechanics of the customer relationship.

John Donahoe put his finger on the key point here — customers are demanding a more responsive, engaged relationship with the vendors and brands they interact with. Certainly that requires sophisticated digital technology and streamlined data flows. But at diginomica, we believe it goes beyond the current concept of personalization, because the impact of digital connection transforms the nature of customer engagement. The goal is not to immerse the customer in some kind of out-of-body, metaverse-like brand experience, but to insert the brand in the most relevant way into the customer's own experience. For all the sophistication of its platform, I don't think Adobe has yet recognized that shift in emphasis.

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