Adobe Insiders share their experience from Adobe Summit

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By Adobe Communications Team

Posted on 05-17-2021

“Energizing!”

“Invigorating!”

“Supercalafragalisticexpialadocious!”

When asked to describe their feelings about this year’s Adobe Summit 2021 in one word, our Adobe Insiders had a lot to say. They shared their insights and key takeaways from the three-day event, which is known for bringing together a diverse group of thought leaders, innovators, marketers, communicators and creators who inspire each other with fresh ideas. As the digital economy grows and businesses seek more ways to improve and personalize customer experiences, Adobe Summit is the pinnacle industry event showcasing the latest trends, while providing glimpses into the future.

“There is so much knowledge to learn that it will take me the next six months to get through all 400 sessions,” said Brent Peterson, the chief commerce evangelist of e-commerce consulting firm Wagento Creative. “The Adobe Summit is a must attend event for any company that wants to learn more about their customer experience and journey.”

Inspiring speakers

Over 400 sessions covered data-driven customer experiences, campaign management, digital commerce, personalization, and everything in between — along with presentations from thought leaders known for offering a unique perspective on popular culture. Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling author of books such as Outliers and The Tipping Point, grabbed attention with his presentation about how businesses face and respond to unexpected opportunities amid major disruptions like the pandemic.

My favorite session was Malcolm Gladwell’s,” said Ross Quintana, head of social, Adobe Partners. “I appreciate his analysis and observations about shifts in society and how those shifts impact business and outcomes. These big picture, ‘a-ha moments’ remind me that we can’t be so deep in the daily execution to miss the monumental changes happening across society. We can’t create today in the same way we did yesterday, or we will lose context.”

Gladwell’s presentation also resonated with Sofiya Deva, the founder of purpose-driven clothing boutique This Same Sky.

“Malcolm Gladwell’s talk about hierarchies versus networks in the context of the Civil Rights movement was very illuminating,” she said. “It helped me realize that the way ideas move through culture isn’t just about technology — it’s about how we organize, resist and create.”

Other Adobe Insiders found inspiration in a presentation by Ray Wang, chief executive of Silicon Valley consulting firm Constellation Research. Wang provided insights on how the future of customer experience relies on analytics, automation and artificial intelligence — or the “three A’s.”

Wang’s discussion of “ambient experiences,” which happen when technology seamlessly interacts with a person based on their behaviors, was especially intriguing to Abhijit Bhaduri, chief executive of consulting firm Abhijit Bhaduri & Associates.

“Imagine what a game changer it could be if every organization could use the same ideas to improve the employee experience or even the candidate experience,” he said.

Bhaduri also recommended the session by Susan Cain, author of best-seller “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Cain discussed the need for people to find a balance between working alone and collaborating with teams.

The presentation had “implications for how we can make digital citizenship truly inclusive for those whose voices are often not heard,” Bhaduri said.

That theme of inclusivity also was found in the keynote appearance by Serena Williams, widely regarded as one the greatest tennis players of all time. Williams discussed how the lessons from her storied career as an elite Black athlete carried over into her entrepreneurial pursuits, including venture capital investing.

“My favorite Summit speaker was Serena Williams because she was so empowering,” said Lana McGilvray, the influential chief executive of marketing communications firm Purpose Worldwide. “Knowing that when she couldn’t find any VCs to fund businesses owned by people of color, she became one herself and how her fashion line is redefining archaic beauty ideals is inspiring. It reminds us that we have so much creative power within ourselves and how significant that power is when applied for community good.”

For Mellissah Smith, founder of consulting firm Marketing Eye, the presentation by Loni Stark, vice president of experience management at Adobe, was particularly impactful and, to her, personified how Adobe helps organizations create exceptional, personalized customer experiences.

Stark “shared ways to personalize content to drive lasting customer relationships transforming experiences,” Smith said. “What every marketer needs to be reminded of is that we are in a digital-first world and we will never go back to the way it was before. If marketers don’t adapt their thinking, and shift their focus, they will find that the brands they represent will be left behind.”

Actionable learnings

With more than 400 session, this year’s Summit was filled with case studies, strategies and advice so attendees could apply what they learned from the conference in their businesses. For This Same Sky’s Deva, that means gaining more insights into consumers as they shop online.

“The success of an e-commerce business in a digital economy hinges on an actionable and detailed understanding of customer journeys,” she said.

The importance of being nimble amid the rapid shifts in people’s everyday routines, including how they work, communicate, shop and entertainment themselves, was another lesson from summit.

“Marketing agility is a runaway train when it comes to differentiation in the digital world,” Adobe’s Quintana said. “If you have it, you will multiply your creative output and impact. If you don’t have it, the acceleration of the digital world will leave you behind.”

Purpose Worldwide’s McGilvray expressed similar views, saying, “Co-innovation and harnessing data is so critical to marketing agility and the ability to transform ideas into innovation. Throughout Adobe Summit, we saw example after example of the power of both.”

Wagento’s Peterson provided a similar assessment: “The tools are in our hands now to be increasing more agile when marketing to our customers. It is imperative that, as a digital agency, you look at AI and especially Adobe Sensei to help find customers, personalize the experience and keep them interested.”

“True digital transformation requires real-time personalization of content and machine learning and AI is critical to achieving this,” said Marketing Eye’s Smith. “Marketers cannot and will not know everything about their customer without technology and insights helping them navigate the way we better serve customers in every interaction.”

Connecting digitally at Adobe Summit

Adobe Summit was virtual for the second year in a row in response to the pandemic. A hugely important objective for event organizers: how to create an engaging digital experience while fostering collaboration for attendees. Influencers appreciated the opportunity to personalize their summit experience by time-shifting their viewing and dabbling in a variety of sessions.

“Adobe Summit provided an opportunity for not only myself, but my team to engage in new ways of thinking, thought leaders and technology developments,” said Marketing Eye’s Smith. “As marketers, we are always learning. Having platforms like Adobe Summit allows for that to be expedited at a level of scale within small marketing departments and large.”

Adobe Insiders also liked the ever-popular “Sneaks” sessions that provided a behind-the-scenes look at emerging technologies and innovations in development by Adobe researchers. The session was hosted by Emmy award-winner Dan Levy.

“The sessions were engaging and even with everything pre-recorded it was a success,” Wagento’s Peterson said. “I especially like that the Sneaks talks were not scripted or edited. There was more energy in the event this year compared to last year.”

Injecting energy into a virtual event is crucial, especially to continue to engage people who have spent the past year communicating with each other through video calls and social media while working from home — and are likely experiencing screen fatigue.

“One of the key things for me with virtual events is creating excitement and energy,” Quintana said. “That is what people miss about in-real-life (IRL) events. Adobe does an amazing job at keeping the energy up and hitting you with entertaining and valuable content — one after another.”

You can still catch Adobe Summit sessions, keynote and Sneaks on-demand here.

Topics: Adobe Summit, B2B, Experience Cloud,

Products: Experience Cloud, Adobe Sensei,