The 21st Century Renaissance Is Here, Says Adobe CEO

“We are living in an incredible time,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen told the 12,000 attendees at Adobe MAX—The Creativity Conference, this morning in Las Vegas. “It’s the dawn of the 21st Century Renaissance.”

The 21st Century Renaissance Is Here, Says Adobe CEO

by Giselle Abramovich

Posted on 10-03-2017

This article is part of’s October series about creativity and design-led thinking. Click here for more.

“We are living in an incredible time,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen told the 12,000 attendees at Adobe MAX—The Creativity Conference, Wednesday morning in Las Vegas. “It’s the dawn of the 21st Century Renaissance.”

According to Narayen, the first Renaissance period (1300 to 1700) focused on the individual—the artist. The “renaissance” we’re now experiencing is all about the mixing of art, science, data, and design, which will take human creativity to new heights. At the very center of this renaissance, he told the audience: Adobe and its tools, which will remove tech barriers from human creativity and enable anyone to tell a story in new, exciting ways.

Why this need for change? Well, there’s no doubt that consumers are at a point where they want and expect to be immersed in experiences, and “the core of every great experience is content,” Narayen said. That puts pressure on businesses to create more content than ever before—and fast.

“Our business is at the nexus of art and science,” Narayen said. “We create technology that creates immersive experiences that are supported by data and delivered when it matters most.”

With that, Narayen introduced Bryan Lamkin, executive vice president and general manager of digital media at Adobe, who talked about how technology and innovation continue to rock the world of creativity. “Traditional media is seeing massive change,” Lamkin told the audience. “Consumers’ appetite for content is at an all-time high, and the need for content velocity is at an all-time high.”

To address these challenges, Adobe today announced new tools and updates to existing tools that are grounded in three core themes: next-generation experiences, the acceleration of creativity, and one-click access to assets and inspiration. The goal with these new releases, according to Lamkin, is to free the creative community’s time to do what they do best: Be creative. (View the full release here.)

Indeed, design and creative assets have never been more central to business than they are today, said Jamie Myrold, Adobe’s VP of design. “[Design] can persuade customers to take action,” she said.

At the same time, design has never been so complex, with more data, screens, and immersive technology—such as augmented and virtual realities, voice interfaces, 360 video, and animation—to account for. All of this has been changing how creatives approach their work, with more change is on the horizon.

“The demand for content is exploding, and the need to communicate our brands beautifully and consistently across various devices is the norm,” Myrold said. “User expectations have fundamentally changed. We have a generation that grew up on social media and on mobile devices. Toddlers are engaging with a screen before they even start to walk. We have to create faster than ever before, and it is difficult to switch the brain in that way.”

Through outreach to the creative community, Adobe has learned that the ability to collaborate is more important than ever before. Many of the enhancements the company has made to its technology make it easy for teams to work together more fluidly, across offices and geographies, Myrold said.

Adobe CTO and EVP Abhay Parasnis also came on stage to talk about the future of creativity, one in which artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will enable businesses to create more modern and adaptable customer experiences. Adobe Sensei, which was announced last year at Adobe MAX, is Adobe’s foundational bet on AI.

“AI is empowering the 21st Century Renaissance [in creativity],” Parasnis said. “It’s the biggest paradigm shift, and it will change the way all of us work.”

Parasnis noted a false assumption about AI: that it will one day replace people. “AI will not replace humans,” Parasnis said. “At Adobe, our viewpoint is that AI will amplify human creativity and intelligence. It will free you from mundane tasks. It can help you bring out that unique creative expression that only humans can do.”

Adobe Sensei is already part of many of the products and services Adobe offers today. In Creative Cloud, for example, it powers computational creativity and content understanding. It learns from the millions of assets that are being created every day with Adobe technology.

Additionally, Sensei is purpose-built, Parasnis said, given that it understands the creative process and workflow. “Each of you are training the Sensei creative fabric every time you use one of our tools,” Parasnis said.

Topics: Insights & Inspiration, Experience Cloud, Trends & Research, Digital Transformation, Insights Inspiration, Creative Cloud, Creativity, Information Technology, CMO by Adobe

Products: Creative Cloud