Adobe shows off better product integration, but should evolve into a true platform

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – SiliconANGLE.

I’m a relatively new Adobe Inc. watcher, but given the trends toward digital customer experience getting infused with artificial intelligence, I felt now was the time to dedicate some energy to one of the more important CX vendors. That’s why I recently attended my first Adobe Summit.

The company is perhaps widely known as “the PDF and Photoshop” company, but it has a massive set of products for marketing, customer experience and e-commerce professionals, and it seems industry trends are aligned to see the company go through another step function in growth.

The prioritization of CX has created a realignment of budget for technologies that can help any part of the customer journey. My research has found that 90% of businesses compete on CX today, up from only 26% five years ago. Another interesting data point is that, last year, two-thirds of millennials admitted changing loyalties to a brand because of a single bad experience. People expect the brands they use to deliver relevant and personalized information, and Adobe is well-positioned to do that, at least at the front end of the customer journey.

At the event, the company took the covers off its Adobe Sensei GenAI services that will be natively integrated into a number of products, including Adobe Firefly, a new family of creative generative AI models, first focused on the generation of images and text effects. During one of the sessions, Adobe walked through a scenario where General Motors Co. could use Firefly to quickly create a highly personalized e-mail ad, complete with a picture of a GM car with a beach scene in the background. The image and text were created based on historical information that GM has regarding the customer and would be different for another customer.

The GenAI-powered Firefly has the potential to uplevel a business’ marketing and customer experience strategies through the automated generation of content in the style and brand language of that company. The added benefit is that it’s highly personalized and relevant for each customer — without having to involve the content creation team, enabling those individuals to focus on more strategic initiatives versus one off images or videos. The images are highly customizable and, through natural language, users can generate pictures and video using creative elements such as different brushes and color gradients.

Adobe Firefly will be integrated into all the Adobe clouds – Creative Cloud, Document Cloud and Experience Cloud, as well as Adobe Express with Express and Adobe Experience Manager or AEM, with Photoshop and Illustrator supported at launch. Adobe Firefly is currently in beta with general availability expected later this year

I found the Firefly integration with AEM particularly interesting. AEM is Adobe’s digital asset management system and is tied into many other products. As an example, a customer can train the AI engine on its own content and then use Adobe Journey Optimizer to create contextually relevant copy for omnichannel messaging, such as email or mobile, at any point in the customer journey.

Given the hype in the market around ChatGPT, the generative AI announcements were where the sizzle was, but there’s an ongoing, foundational level of innovation going on at Adobe. The company is doing an excellent job of integrating across its three clouds to remove much of the friction across the creative through marketing processes.

As an example, at the event, the company introduced its new Content Supply Chain offering, which is built on Creative Cloud and Experience Cloud, including Workfront. This is what the company should be doing as it raises the value of the entire Adobe portfolio versus having to position its individual clouds as best of breed. At AWS re:Invent, analyst Dave Vellante, host of SiliconANGLE Media’s video studio theCUBE, and I discussed the importance of delivering suites to create a 1+1 = 3 value proposition, and that’s what Adobe is doing.

Looking ahead, I’d like to see the company focus on growing its ecosystem. Most companies with revenues the size of Adobe are ecosystem driven and I was surprised that the Community Pavilion, which contained many of the company’s partners, wasn’t bigger. I asked Adobe about this and I was told it has more than 4000 partners worldwide, which is comprised of system integrators, agencies, consultants and technology partners. They also told me they had more than 2,500 partners at Adobe Summit. Although I agree that’s an impressive number, it’s small compared with companies such as VMware Inc. and Salesforce Inc., both of which are platform companies.

All of the customers I talked to at Summit seemed to love Adobe and the company should use that product and company loyalty to evolve into a true platform built on its integrated suite approach. CX is dominating digital transformation and generative AI will create another wave of growth for companies that play in that ecosystem. Adobe showed a lot of product strength and innovation, and now it’s time to leverage its platform capabilities to accelerate growth.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.