5 Insights from Adobe’s CEO About the Digital Economy

by George Carey

posted on 10-10-2018

Three universal themes unite modern brands — digital is imperative, transformation is here, and there is clear need for insight on every aspect of customer engagement.

This was among the many insights about the digital economy offered up during a fireside chat between Magento CEO Mark Lavelle and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen on the opening day of Magento Live in Barcelona.

Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company) completed its acquisition of Magento in June, attracted by the platform’s mix of digital commerce, order management, and predictive intelligence.

Mark asked Shantanu for his take on everything from acquisitions to the worldwide digital economy. Here are CMO.com’s top five learnings from their conversation.

The mission to master content continues

Unsurprisingly, content and its place in the digital economy was a key element of the conversation. Harking back to an early piece of messaging, Shantanu said Adobe proclaimed it sought to “make content” because that’s the heritage of the company; “measure content” because the company knew it would be important; “manage content” across all media and channels to ensure a consistent experience; “mobilize content” because of the sheer amount created and viewed on mobile; and “monetize content” — for obvious reasons.

It was the last of the “five m’s” that posed the greatest challenge in finding a commerce platform to acquire, Shantanu said. “We wanted someone who works with B2B as well as B2C. They needed to have the spectrum of dealing with SMBs [small and midsize business], midmarket, and enterprises,” he said.

In today’s economy, he added, a platform needs to excel in dealing with physical goods and experience goods.

The evolution Of SaaS

Continuing on the theme of monetisation, Mark was keen to get Shantanu’s take on the evolution of software as a service (SAAS) and its direction.

“The first generation of SaaS involved everything moving from onsite to the cloud, and because it was easier to deploy and manage, but there are still silos that exist in the cloud right now that are not talking to each other,” Adobe’s CEO said.

His solution? A new generation of enterprise software focused on helping the various clouds interrelate and work with each other, though he was keen to emphasize that, despite the evolution, the same basic model was likely to prevail.

“If you take a step back and think about the web, the two business models that exist are transaction-based business models, in which you pay per transaction or by subscription — or there’s advertising,” he said. “I think those fundamental blocks of the business model will continue.”

Harnessing data is more important than ever

When asked about his vision for utilizing data, Shantanu said, “We want to take the data that our customers have and put it on their balance sheet as an asset.”

He described his company’s mission to help brands use the interactions they have with their customers to understand their demographics, behaviors, and engagement history, creating a powerful marketing tool in the process.

To illustrate the power of data assets, Shantanu used the example of a meeting he had had earlier in the day at Magento Live.

“I met with a major sports company that has over 300 million sports fans,” he said. “So how can we harness the power of that 300-million-strong community?”

Open source drives innovation

Describing the fundraising process during his Magento ascent, Mark described the frustrating task of communicating the value of the company’s open source community to finance people preoccupied with the company’s “total addressable market” (TAM).

Elaborating on the breadth of service offerings that open source had facilitated in the company, he said, “It wasn’t because we were any smarter — it was because of the ecosystem.”

Shantanu used Adobe’s purchase of open source-based content management company Day Software in 2010 as an example of the company’s belief in the power of collaborative communities. He referred to the deal as “one the most successful acquisitions we’ve made,” expressing excitement about absorbing another community of experience makers. “I think that the open source community and the ecosystem of over 300,000 developers, with the innovation and ingenuity they offer, is something we want to continue to harness as we move forward.”

The future looks bright

In closing, Shantanu said that although the future can be unpredictable, investing in companies designed to adapt will always be a successful strategy.

“If you look at the history of Adobe, we’ve always believed it’s impossible to predict where innovation will come from. The most successful companies have invested in platforms that allow an ecosystem to grow on top of them,” he said.

Commenting on the two companies’ union, Shantanu added: “If [together] we can provide tools to practitioners and C-level executives alike to create the campaigns, the engagement, or the promotions that they want with their customers, then I think we’ll be doing what’s expected of us.”

This article originally published on CMO.com

Topics: Retail, Corporate Marketer, Personalization