Takeaways from Adobe Summit 2018

by Apr 18, 2018

13,000 people descended on Las Vegas for Adobe Summit the last week of March.

With any luck, atten­dees will have worked through the after-effects of the sensory over­load of Vegas combined with the sensory over­load of Adobe Summit by mid-April, but who knows? Search Discovery sent a small but mighty team of 10 and they all jotted down their hot takes from the show: Attri­bu­tion, Adobe Sensei, Launch by Adobe, and more!

We let the expe­ri­ence mari­nate a bit with our team and then polled them to see what stuck in their medium-term memory from the confer­ence. (TIL: asking analyt­ics types to collab­o­rate and consol­i­date their thoughts on a confer­ence in written form makes for a Herculean editing task).

What they came up with:
  • Adobe Sensei for Analyt­ics — it’s got lots of promise. For Adobe Analyt­ics, specif­i­cally, it seems like the primary use cases boil down to “anomaly detec­tion.” From past research — and some post-Summit discus­sions with Adobe clients — it seems like anomaly detec­tion is still primar­ily the robust appli­ca­tion of Holt-Winters fore­cast­ing to various combi­na­tions of dimen­sions and metrics. At the risk of remov­ing some of the mystery/magic of those light green bands in Analy­sis Work­space, check out this 6‑minute video.
  • Adobe Sensei Else­where – during an advanced lab, Adobe Sensei func­tions were used to auto­mate an AEM image upload process includ­ing branched work­flow based on a Sensei image quality score, and a Sensei func­tion was used for auto­matic asset tagging. That was super cool stuff! Plus, Sensei was, presum­ably, oper­at­ing in some fashion in some of the demos that relied on Creative Cloud, but that wasn’t called out explic­itly.
  • Speak­ing of AEM: It Was Every­where — the atten­dees that we spoke with skewed heavily towards being users — long-term or rela­tively recent tran­si­tion­ers — to Adobe’s CMS. And, Adobe certainly focused a lot of their keynote messag­ing around it as well (AEM = Adobe Expe­ri­ence Manager, and the central theme of the confer­ence was build­ing great expe­ri­ences, so that makes sense). A few atten­dees we spoke with had been using Adobe Analyt­ics a lot longer than they had been using AEM, so the general sense was that more of the market is buying into the Adobe Market­ing Cloud “whole product” that Adobe has been pushing in their messag­ing (and contin­u­ing to build out) for the past several years.
  • Data Science Work­space — the idea seems to be to allow analysts (data scien­tists, even!) to pull more and richer data into an Analy­sis Work­space-like envi­ron­ment. The proof will be in the pudding. “Data science” is a hot term, and many vendors are touting that their tech­nol­ogy will bring data science to the masses. We haven’t heard of a bevy of medical tech­nolo­gies promis­ing to let anyone and every­one with a brain become a “citizen neuro­sci­en­tists,” but the martech world seems to think that sort of thing should be the goal (and that it is attain­able).
  • Adobe Analyt­ics Report­ing API – this is getting an update that is long overdue. Essen­tially, the new API is what is already being used by Analy­sis Work­space. That means that anything that is doable in Analy­sis Work­space will be doable through the API. And results will come back way faster than the exist­ing API. It’s not readily avail­able, but it is live. In one of the labs, the session leader shared a secret key to all the Analy­sis Work­space API goodies. Run “adobe.tools.debug.includeOberonXml = true” in your console, and, “voila!”, you can now inspect the API calls behind any widget you’ve built in Analy­sis Work­space. This API should be rolling out in the next quarter or so, as it seems like all that is needed is some more API-able authen­ti­ca­tion methods and docu­men­ta­tion.
  • Launch by Adobe – Launch is Adobe’s next iter­a­tion of their tag manage­ment solu­tion — DTM. But, that’s a dramatic under­state­ment. And it’s avail­able now (not one of those things that was “shown at Summit and promised to be avail­able soon”). Launch is a signif­i­cant update. It’s built from the ground up to be more open and more readily exten­si­ble (over three dozen exten­sions have already been built! Heck. We built one! And we think it’s pretty slick). There are a ton of new features and capa­bil­i­ties in Launch, and most of the atten­dees we spoke with who had done a bit of research were actively plan­ning to migrate to it.
  • Launch by Adobe…er…how? — At the same time, a lot of atten­dees seemed to be scratch­ing their heads a bit trying to figure out how much of a chore it was going to be for them to migrate. This wasn’t really news to us, and we’d actu­ally built a (free) DTM to Launch Assess­ment App to help anyone who is consid­er­ing the migra­tion to figure that out.
  • Launch for Native Mobile Apps — 2018 is defi­nitely going to be the Year of Mobile… Actu­ally, we left a little unclear as to where Launch fits when it comes to native mobile apps. It was briefly discussed in one of the sessions, and we’re sure Adobe will be more explicit at some point in the future. Our guess is that it will take the form of a TMS rules engine in the cloud trig­gered by an event API within the mobile app. But, we’ll all have to stay tuned to see.
Two members of our team — Michael Helbling and Tim Wilson — actu­ally recorded a 10-minute mini-episode of their podcast imme­di­ately follow­ing the confer­ence with their “hot takes.” Unlike hot takes in the sports world, they both claim that they stand by the impres­sions they shared then, despite record­ing them while expe­ri­enc­ing post-confer­ence fatigue and without the luxury of time to reflect.

And, as always happens at Summit, some of the announce­ments and demos had to be very finely parsed to hear what truly was — and was not — really being said. At least one post-Summit reflec­tion published online noted that Adobe Analyt­ics can “now measure podcasts.” That’s true, but only under very specific condi­tions (read: the podcast is being listened to inside of an app or on a website that has Adobe Analyt­ics imple­mented; most podcasts are not consumed this way). Again, if you send a bunch of detail-oriented analysts to an event that is all about gener­at­ing enthu­si­asm, they’re bound to get a little steamed about that sort of thing.

Overall, though, our whole team agreed that Adobe launched some impres­sive advance­ments to their plat­form in advance of the confer­ence, addi­tional launches are immi­nent, and they’re not slowing down.

Did you attend? What did you think? We’d love to chat with you about any of the high­lights we noted above, so feel free to contact us.