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Driving Personalization at Scale: Key Highlights from Adobe Summit 2024
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Adobe Summit 2024 marked my 15th Summit and my first as a non-Adobe employee. My first Adobe Summit was in 2009 prior to Adobe acquiring Omniture, so those who were there will recall those early days of Summit in Salt Lake City when one of the big attractions was the Ski Day, Maroon 5 played in the Grand America ballroom to an audience of <500, and the Boston Celtics were in town playing the Utah Jazz and crashed our party. Customers still mention the intimacy of those Summits, but like our children, they all must grow up eventually.

Adobe began hosting the Summit in Las Vegas in 2016 and grew to over 20,000 attendees pre-Covid. I heard that this year’s edition attracted approximately 11,000, but do not quote me on that number. While it is no longer the intimate event it once was, Adobe produces a great conference with newsworthy product announcements, insightful keynotes, a partner showcase exhibit hall, informative content sessions, robust networking, and engaging entertainment. For me, this one was special, to experience what Summit is like from the ‘other’ side as an attendee. I was humbled by the warm, welcoming reunion with former colleagues, customers, and partners.

For decades, Adobe’s mission has been “Changing the world through digital experiences”. The Adobe Summit 2024, the premier Digital Experience Conference, did not disappoint in driving that point home where we witnessed a groundbreaking array of innovations aimed at revolutionizing enterprise-level customer experience management (CXM). Doubling down on their 2023 theme of “Driving Experience-led Growth” and the introduction of Adobe Firefly, this year’s theme focused on “AI Supercharging Digital Experiences”. AI, and especially GenAI, were front and center throughout the Summit. From empowering brands to deliver personalized experiences at scale through generative AI to providing real-time insights, Adobe’s latest suite of products promises to reshape the landscape of digital engagement.

I would like to point out that while Generative AI is the newest bright and shiny object on the block, Adobe has been leveraging Predictive and Interpretive artificial intelligence throughout their suite of solutions for the past 10 years. Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s in-house AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) platform, was first introduced in 2016 and continues to support Predictive AI use cases such as anomaly detection, and Interpretive AI use cases such as content metadata creation. Keep in mind that according to IDC Research, GenAI will be a $151B market opportunity by 2027 which only represents 29% of the overall market opportunity across all AI (Predictive, Interpretive and Generative) which is forecasted to be more than $500B globally by 2027.

Adobe’s mission is steadfast, but with a new twist, “Changing the world through personalized digital experiences”. Now, let us delve into the key announcements and innovations unveiled during this year’s event.

Empowering personalization with generative AI

At the heart of Adobe’s latest offerings lies the integration of generative AI, enabling brands to forge deeper connections with their customers through personalized experiences. Anil Chakravarthy, President of the Digital Experience Business at Adobe, emphasized the transformative potential of generative AI in fostering profitable growth and driving digital innovation. With the ability to personalize every interaction, Adobe is spearheading a paradigm shift in Customer Experience Management, empowering enterprises to thrive in the age of digital disruption.

The top 5 innovation announcements (IMHO)

Adobe’s commitment to harnessing the power of generative AI is evident in the myriad of innovations across its Experience Cloud and Creative Cloud platforms. From driving insights based on unified customer data to scaling personalized content production and enhancing customer engagement through journey orchestration, Adobe’s latest offerings promise to elevate the customer experience to unprecedented heights. Notable announcements include:

  • Adobe GenStudio: I would say that this was the big announcement of this year’s Summit. Billed as “Everything marketers need in one place”. GenStudio is a generative AI-first offering designed to streamline content planning, creation, management, activation, and measurement for marketing teams, ensuring on-brand consistency and efficiency.
  • Adobe Experience Platform: Federated Audience Composition: This is a huge announcement given the existing siloes of data across technology solutions and eliminating the need for a customer to exclude existing data sources. Adobe now allows Business Intelligence teams to federate audiences and data directly from enterprise data warehouses and platforms such as Amazon, Microsoft, Databricks, Google and Snowflake. Prior to this announcement, the Adobe CDP was a bit of a ‘walled garden’. Customers will now be able to truly build the 360° view of their customers using “composable” principles applied to their data practices.
  • Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) AI Assistant: A co-pilot tool that enhances the productivity of experience practitioners using Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform, Adobe Journey Optimizer and Adobe Journey Analytics through a conversational interface that answers technical questions, automates tasks, simulates outcomes, and generates audiences unlocking new creative possibilities. AI Assistant will help customers rapidly glean value from their AEP investments to accelerate ROI.
  • Adobe Journey Optimizer (AJO) Unified Experimentation: I have attended three conferences over the past month and the focus of all of them has been Generative AI with a smattering of Retail Media Networks. So, it was refreshing to hear that Adobe is still investing and supporting the concept of experimentation and testing which, only a few years ago, was a marketer’s mantra, “Test-first”. AJO Unified Experimentation leverages enhanced statistical models within Adobe Experience Platform to drive experimentation and decision-making within customer journeys, optimizing key performance metrics such as conversion and engagement. Think of this as A/B testing on steroids.
  • Adobe Firefly: The bell of the ball during last year’s Summit, Firefly this year introduced Structure and Style Reference, a new GenAI capability that accelerates the production of assets, utilizing the structure or style of existing images to newly generated ones. Additional Firefly innovations available this year will include Generative AI capabilities for video, audio, and vector-based content. Since last year’s launch, Firefly has generated 6.5 billion images. On the topic of Firefly, in speaking with two customers during a lunch session, they indicated that Firefly has significantly cut down on production time for new environments (media company) and custom models for product development also known as PLM or product lifecycle management (home materials brand).

Given so many innovative announcements, it was hard to choose the top five. Other important innovations included the Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform Collaboration which is essentially a clean-room offering for brands and publishers to share customer profiles in a privacy-safe manner, to discover and reach high-value audiences in a cookie-less world. Adobe’s Content Supply Chain offerings received equal attention throughout Summit. Content Supply Chain is an integrated set of best-in-class solutions that aim to accelerate the content supply chain, ensuring seamless content creation and delivery across marketing campaigns and personalized customer experiences. As the global leader in creative software solutions, Adobe continues to invest in this area to not only optimize legacy solutions such as Photoshop and acquired technologies such as Workfront, but also improve the life of creatives throughout the world with an integrated suite of solutions. Innovations in Content Supply were announced across workflow and planning, creation and production, asset management, delivery and activation, and insights and reporting.

 

Transforming travel: role of AI in leisure, entertainment, and commerce

On Day 2, I had the pleasure of sharing the stage in the Community Pavilion Theater with Kellay Buckelew, Chief Digital Experience Officer for Norwegian Cruise Lines and Piyush Patel, Chief Strategic BD Officer for Algolia. We had a lively discussion on how AI-powered search, personalization and conversational commerce is elevating the experience for travelers. Norwegian is embarking on a journey with Algolia to leverage AI-powered search to assist their guests in sorting through the sixty-four possible options a cruiser needs to sift through to complete their holiday travel plans. As I mentioned in my Pre-Summit article, potential travel guests fall into two distinct categories; Spearfishers and Wanderlusters. The power of the Algolia + Adobe partnership enables a brand to deliver a personalized, conversational commerce experience to any group of cohorts. Algolia is the only search provider with seamless Adobe Commerce, AEM, and Launch integrations. The partnership leverages consumer data and Federated Search which simultaneously presents both traditional product results and inspiring brand content that appeals to both Spearfishers and Wanderlusters. Algolia is a key Adobe partner in leveraging AI to supercharge digital experiences. In wrapping up the session, both Kellay and myself advised the audience that there is a people and process element to a successful AI-powered search program and that taking a pragmatic approach that considers all elements; people, process, and technology, is critical for success.

Let’s outdo cancer

Lidia Fonseca, Chief Digital & Technology Officer, EVP for Pfizer took the stage on Day 1 to share their mission to conquer cancer while supporting patients and their families. Pfizer is a powerful case study for Adobe’s Content Supply Chain with a goal of creating five times the volume of content with half the effort enabling them to publish a dozen new web sites in 2024. Reinventing their content supply chain in less than 6 months they now support 3,800 marketers across eighty markets, creating content 75% faster. Pfizer leveraged the Adobe tools to create their Let’s Outdo Cancer in less than 3 weeks. GenAI is also at the heart of their story anticipating $750M-$1B in value within the near term. GenAI also impacts Oncology, Manufacturing and Commercial where Lidia gives credit to Adobe for orchestrating hyper personalized campaigns as well as Adobe Firefly for creating 8,000 illustrations in less than 4 weeks for a consumer product launch later this year. Impressive stats from a customer that is not only changing the world through digital experiences, but also improving the health and wellness of humans across the globe.

Not revenge travel, the new normal

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines was one of the featured keynotes on Day 2. Travel has made a healthy post-pandemic rebound and is now the new normal. Delta flies 5,000 flights and services 100,000 customers per day. Ed discussed Delta’s people first philosophy, and reminded us that “Everyone says people first, but it’s in the actions”. During the pandemic Delta employed 90,000 people with zero layoffs, and today they have grown to 100,000 employees worldwide. Delta continues to foster loyalty through services such as free Wi-Fi for all SkyMiles customers and key partnerships with T-Mobile, Paramount+ and Walmart Connect that deliver content to 100,000 smart screens deployed throughout the fleet of Delta aircrafts. My key takeaway was not only the dedication that Delta has to their customers and employees, but Ed’s statement that at Delta ‘AI’ stands for “Augmented Intelligence”. This definition reinforces the concept that AI is not a replacement for humans, but that AI should serve as a co-pilot that helps humans deliver superior service and personalized experiences.

Enjoy the ride, create your luck!

Emma Springham, CMO of TSB Bank inspired us to enjoy the ride and as marketers, we must focus on our personal brand as much as our corporate brand. We must not leave our careers up to luck and that we can take control. Emma’s personal brand words are “Brave”, “Trust” and “Growth”. Interpreting these into action means taking risks and going outside of our comfort zone, empowering ourselves and teams to do the right thing even in the face of failure and lastly, expanding ourselves while maturing. Emma’s session has me thinking about my personal brand. I am still debating with myself what my personal brand words are. I value humor, honesty, and intensity, perhaps I will settle on these. What are your personal brand words?

And more…

In addition to Lidia, Ed, and Emma, we heard inspiring keynotes from General Motors, Major League Baseball and Guy Raz, award-winning podcast creator. Summit delivers so many inspiring keynotes, breakout sessions and hands-on labs over the course of three days that there just is not enough room in this article to mention them all. You should take advantage of the On-Demand content posted on the Adobe Summit web site and make sure you watch Sneaks co-hosted by Shaquille O’Neal.

Summary

The Adobe Summit 2024 displayed Adobe’s unwavering commitment to driving innovation in digital experience management through the integration of generative AI and real-time insights. However, I wonder “how much is too much” which struck me while listening to David Wadhwani’s Adobe Firefly keynote on Day 1 as well as a breakout session that same afternoon. Do we need 700 variations of an individual asset? Are we becoming a victim of The Paradox of Choice, providing too many options for a marketer? I know consumers are looking for curation when shopping, shouldn’t we be doing the same for marketers? As enterprises navigate the complexities of today’s marketing climate, Adobe is well positioned to be the technology partner of choice, offering the tools and expertise needed to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.

I want to “Thank” Algolia and Adobe for having me this year. It was an amazing Summit, and I am already looking forward to 2025!

About the authorMichael Klein

Michael Klein

Principal, Klein4Retail

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