It can often be a challenge to translate the benefits of conferences, especially tech-based ones, to staff back in the studio and to key clients. But not with Adobe. This year's summit, held in London on May 3rd and 4th, was an inspiring example of practicing what you preach in terms of UX strategy. For those unfamiliar with the summit, it's essentially a gathering of the world's leading brands and digital agencies. They exchange ideas, insights and lessons garnered through their own journeys to transform their organisations into 'experience businesses'.
Whether you're in B2C or B2B, if you want to stay competitive and relevant in the customers' eyes, you need to provide a compelling experience that distinguishes your organisation in the market. This demands a more strategic and holistic view of all the customer touch points and an awareness of how your product or service will integrate with their lives. You will need to inspire and push boundaries to create exceptional customer experiences. In short, you need an excellent UX strategy. Part of this, as Shantanu Narayen, CEO at Adobe, said in the conference, requires "operating at all times with a subscription mind set.”
Combining machine learning and human intelligence for the best customer experience
A central theme to the conference was, of course, Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a driver for machine learning. Organisations intend to use the tech to deliver unique experiences and provide a more manageable kind of 'hyper-personalisation'. Samsung, meanwhile, suggested it could be used to "[personalise] the path to purchase."
Almost all of the brands listed it as a common challenge and all reported that they were already collecting data at unprecedented levels (the poor drowning marketeers!). The big question here is: how can we harness this data and how do we steer the machine learning? And from that learning, where do we go next?
This isn't a new challenge in our industry. Humanising technology has been Nomensa’s mantra since our founding back in 2001. Adobe's technology may have impressive, scaleable capabilities that gather huge sources of data, but it still necessitates experienced human intelligence to extract meaningful insight and translate it into actions that get the best results.
Another theme running throughout the keynotes and breakouts sessions was the importance of culture in actualising strategic experience design in businesses. Moreover, it was vital for organisations to collaborate across departments. For instance, data and content. As Brad Rencher, EVP and GM of Experience Cloud Adobe, explained: “Great experiences are informed by data, but paid off by content." Virgin Atlantic, Lego and Nissan all expressed the necessity of collaboration as a critical ingredient in the transformation. I didn't hear anyone say it was easy!
Learning to embrace failure as a fundamental part of progression
It was also refreshing to hear candid experiences of companies that were struggling to make changes and were frank about the mistakes they'd made. Making mistakes is how we all learn and sharing these lessons is a powerful way of building a strong and innovative team. Coincidentally, this was one of the Seven Ways to Kill Innovation which the inspiring former head of brand at Lego, Christian Majgaard, shared in his break-out sessions.
Building optimisation into the way sites are run was another theme. Virgin Media Ireland, part of Liberty Global and one of our clients, demonstrated some impressive behavioural economics and applied them to automated testing and learning using Adobe Target, Audience and Experience Manager.
User experience transcends technology
Experience isn't just technology and Adobe certainly didn't forget that. At the evening bash, they invited the Kaiser Chiefs to headline a mini festival of 'Experience makers'.
Day two, and to add a more glossy human stories to the 'experience makers' tagline, they invited the boxed legend Anthony Joshua and fashion designer Victoria Beckham to share their career and business stories.
The comedian Rob Brydon, pictured below, was a masterful guest to invite to support the 'Sneaks' section where Adobe revealed some of the future innovations their developers have been working on. Of course it started with an impressive photoshop trick, followed by some automated content layouts for dynamic advertising and a VR dashboard for analytics, but personally I think it still need a bit more work to be viable.
So what did I take away from this years summit?
• 'Experiences' communicated well can be inspirational and people need to be inspired to change, both customers and staff
• The world's most successful brands are using data and design to create amazing customer experiences
• It clearly pays to make experience your business
Investing in user experience is a defining feature of unicorn brands, which is something our Founder and CEO, Simon Norris, looks at in our 'Journeys with Unicorns: Excellence in User Experience' white paper.