Adobe Summit 2017 — What we heard from the attendees

Next, let’s turn from the points Adobe was propos­ing to the people who were listen­ing. One of my favorite things about Summit is that it is the rare kind of event where the true pulse of the indus­try can be measured.

To that end, we had over 400 conver­sa­tions with brands of all shapes and sizes at our booth this year. There were some very consis­tent ques­tions and strug­gles that people were bring­ing up. Many of these sound remark­ably like the conver­sa­tions I was having at Summit five, six or seven years ago, while others were new. 

I’ll propose an idea: I believe it’s unim­por­tant to look at insights like those below and deter­mine whether it is surpris­ing or not that brands are strug­gling in certain areas. I think what is impor­tant for us all to recog­nize is that getting these things right, as simple as they may seem, is hugely differ­en­ti­at­ing for brands, opens new market oppor­tu­ni­ties, and drives real ROI.

Most impor­tantly, I want us to recog­nize that closing these gaps is actu­ally real­is­tic. It’s very, very impor­tant to have the funda­men­tals right before leaping to the bleed­ing edge (or to not lose focus on them as you’re leaping). The funda­men­tals are your safety net if that leap doesn’t work out, and in many cases, they are totally neces­sary to take leaps in the first place.

Here’s a rundown of the kinds of ques­tions we were asking and the kinds of responses we heard. A great way to use this is to make a check­list for your own orga­ni­za­tion. What are you in need of? What are you working on? What do you need to work on? You can also map out depen­den­cies: which projects open doors to solving other oppor­tu­ni­ties? In each section, I have grouped projects and ideas into cate­gories that elevate the issue or discus­sion to the level we typi­cally try to work at.

Do you iden­tify with some or most of this? I would love to hear your thoughts (email me at


What is your organization struggling with?
  • Making good on the promise
    • Real­iz­ing ROI on current tool invest­ments
    • Tagging in place but strug­gling with what to do with the data next (matu­rity)
    • Taking analyt­ics to the next level and analyz­ing the inter­sec­tion of audi­ences and content
    • Really creat­ing content person­al­iza­tion and targeted expe­ri­ences across chan­nels and tech­nolo­gies
  • Being strate­gic
    • Over­whelmed with possi­bil­i­ties, Deter­min­ing next best step on a roadmap with many possi­bil­i­ties, Where to start?
    • Under­stand­ing the key problem we are solving before throw­ing a tool at it
  • Orga­ni­za­tional support
    • Gaining inter­nal trac­tion on opti­miza­tion strat­egy
    • No time/resources
  • Funda­men­tals and tech­ni­cal needs
    • Trust­ing data
    • Inte­grat­ing data
    • Target on Single Page Appli­ca­tions
What kinds of projects do you currently have underway?
  • Tagging and Tech­ni­cal
    • Tech­ni­cal Analyt­ics tagging audits
    • 3rd party data inte­gra­tions
    • Mobile analyt­ics and tagging
  • Estab­lish­ing compe­ten­cies and centers of excel­lence
    • A/B testing—building capa­bil­i­ties
    • Pilot­ing Target but in need of help to form a strat­egy for the program that could follow the pilot
    • Person­al­iza­tion programs launch­ing or growing to be cross-channel
    • Growth and augmen­ta­tion of analyt­ics team
  • Step­ping stones
    • Build­ing data warehouses/data lakes for consol­i­da­tion of all data sources
    • Moving to AEM and then broad­en­ing to using the Expe­ri­ence Cloud
    • Inte­gra­tion of offline data into Analyt­ics and audi­ences
    • Complete website redesigns


What projects do you wish you had underway?
  • Formal­iz­ing projects that have run on the side
    • Formal Analyt­ics imple­men­ta­tion and target projects, rather than hoping it will work itself out”
    • Data inte­gra­tion projects to empower personalization/targeting
  • Moving toward better, more personal expe­ri­ences
    • Greater person­al­iza­tion and effort to improve expe­ri­ences
    • Segmen­ta­tion analy­sis and defi­n­i­tion
  • Busi­ness Health and Customer Analy­sis Projects
    • Customer value/lifetime value
    • Better visu­al­iza­tions of data
  • Adding and enhanc­ing key market­ing archi­tec­ture
    • DMP/Audience Manager
    • Enhanc­ing DTM implementation/Launch
What was your reaction to mainstage content?
  • I liked the idea of better expe­ri­ences, but unsure of how to execute on that”
  • I’m over­whelmed with the amount of infor­ma­tion”
  • Will Launch be more of a developer’s tool?”
  • How will launch affect my current roadmap? Should I hold off? How to take advan­tage of new features?”
  • Why so many clouds, and clouds of clouds?”
  • What are new analyt­ics levels? How do I get access to predic­tive in the new struc­ture?”


In Summary

Clearly, there was a lot on people’s minds at Summit this year, but there are certainly some trends that emerged. Orga­ni­za­tions are still very much actively invest­ing in strength­en­ing their funda­men­tals, improv­ing data quality, and inte­grat­ing their various data sources and execu­tion plat­forms (remember—architectures trump prod­ucts!). At the same time, many brands still feel like they need to make data quality less of a side effort and more of a focused project, and the same goes for data inte­gra­tion projects, becom­ing great at segmen­ta­tion, and defin­ing core ideas like the value of a customer.

While there was a lot of discus­sion of expe­ri­ences, brands are certainly not settled on the best strate­gies to bridge the divide between the idea of great expe­ri­ences across chan­nels and the execu­tion of that idea. Simi­larly, analysts and marketers were very much iden­ti­fy­ing with our focus on using great stories and better data visu­al­iza­tion to not just inform, but compel exec­u­tives to act on find­ings and accel­er­ate.

So, where do we go from here? The next section, What it all means and what to do about it, will cover exactly that.

Announcements and What They Mean

What We Heard From The Attendees

Conclusions and What You Should Do

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