Adobe Summit Recap: My Hangover, Experience Business Tale

In the movie The Hangover, the plot is driven by the fact that Vegas has a way of taking control of an evening and keeping you out way later than you may have originally intended. After spending a week at Adobe Summit, I can relate with the characters and not just because I met Mike Tyson while out there. It was an adventure from start to finish, exactly as Adobe planned it; just on the edge of overwhelming but familiar at the same time. 
The Evolution of the Wolf Pack
The evolution of Summit mimics the evolution of Omniture and now Adobe. From early beginnings of a startup looking to disrupt the market, to last week's display of just how powerful the Adobe ‘wolf pack’ has truly become.
This isn't criticism. The success of both Omniture and Adobe is something to admire and they didn't get to where they are today without filling a need in the market. The opening keynote was a great display of just how far things have come; with a slick presentation topping anything I've seen before, well done content, experiences with household brands (Royal Bank of Scotland being a definite highlight), and the vision of the Experience Business enterprise revolution, Adobe really flexed their muscles this year. Their central idea is to focus on the customer and how they interact with your brand, concentrating more on the overall experience vs channels or touchpoints. 
In that vein, the emphasis on Adobe Experience Manager is where you really see Adobe’s master plans laid out, acting as a bridge between the Creative and Marketing clouds. It's an ambitious plan, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out between now and the next Summit. Of course in the real world, few companies are able to commit 100% to the Adobe cloud. There will always be a legacy preferred technology in the mix and quick evaluation and application of new technologies, so we expect no shortage of brands seeking to ensure that all technologies are integrated seamlessly, regardless of the vendor. 
Mobile Identification Made Easy
Probably the most interesting technology announced was the Mobile Co-Op. This is a very clever technological approach where companies that have a nice tie between a visitor’s devices, such as a travel site that has seen logins on two laptops and a tablet, can share that data anonymously with other customers in the co-op to identify visitors more clearly. I'm actually not too concerned with the privacy side of things here as the data is non-identifying. And as a side note: this is also something that Google and Facebook are doing today. 
The security session I attended went in depth on the implications and the opt-out experience. Adobe has done their homework here and their approach is solid. There are important considerations before jumping in that organizations need to be aware of, including how to message the use of this technology to visitors, what the opt-out will and won't do, and how the opt-out can work practically with the use of a cookie. There is also the consideration of participating in a technology that may inadvertently provide a leg up on competition. Companies that have worked hard on their experiences and apps that compel users to login on multiple devices will be supporting companies that haven't been able to pull that off yet. The considerations are not stonewalls, however, and we would be happy to walk through each of them to help organizations take advantage of this great technology.
What Happens in Vegas…
Of course I couldn't talk about a Summit without mentioning the venue; Adobe chose Las Vegas for the first time in history and I can see why. When Summit was a few thousand people you could already see Salt Lake City being stretched to its limits. But roughly 10,000 people in Vegas didn't even make a dent in that city! The venue of the Venetian was amazing as they really knew how to move, serve, and manage crowds - and of course there is plenty to do in Vegas! But if you do go to the strip, don’t ask anyone if that’s the real Caesar’s palace. He did not apparently ever live there. Go figure.
It's easy to lose three or four hours while, for example, a previous co-worker tells you they are going to teach you how to play craps as you are heading back to your room after a long night (that has nothing to do with personal experience, mind you). All of the Adobe events were amazing as always, from selfie sticks and street food at Madame Tussauds to Weezer next to the High Roller. The only downside was the amount of walking and standing. You don't notice in the moment, but you do wonder why your legs are sore every morning. Next year I suggest those hover-chairs from Wall-E. I know that movie was a cautionary tale but it doesn't mean I don't want one. 
The Ski Parking Experience Business
I also managed to score a Summit Ski Day, that to my knowledge, no one else at Summit 2016 received! Sure I had to pay for it out of my satchel (Indiana Jones wears one), but I had never skied Colorado before so I decided to extend my trip. I found it funny that this ski day incorporated a lot from the discussions at Adobe Summit with regards to managing an experience. 
I booked everything online in advance using a number of different sites, but I found there were hiccups with my travel plans. Some were self-imposed, for example, l chose a nice comfortable Buick over a few SUV options for my drive since the weather looked clear. I then quickly learned that Vail Pass doesn't check before dumping enough snow to require snow chains or 4WD.
Other hiccups were technology related, like the booking engine for the parking service I wanted to use gave me multiple errors on the final checkout step – something that can easily be fixed through checkout optimization. But I talked to them on the phone and they told me to just show up the next morning. After a harrowing 3.5 hour drive, the experience with the parking managers was nothing less than fantastic. They even set me up with a top parking spot steps away from the lodge and gave me back my key so I could get out during the end of day rush without having to wait. It was customer service at its finest! 
Bringing it Back to the Adobe Experience
That narrative highlights one of the key things we try to emphasize at Stratigent -technology and people are not machines to be optimized and tweaked to perfection. They are constantly changing variables in the day-to-day process on behalf of your business. Things will happen, technology will break, goals will shift, but it is how you react to those situations that your customers will remember. With the parking service, I had a horrible experience online but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them because the product and service was exemplary, not to mention the employees had the power to make things right. Their service made my experience that day at the mountain even better. At Stratigent, we know that optimizing your customer experience helps drive value, reduce costs, and builds a competitive advantage that increases customer loyalty and the long term success of your company. Our services can help do just that.
Experience Business may be the next big wave, but it's not going to be driven by any specific vendor’s technology. Technology can enable a great experience, but at the end of the day it is doing what is right for the customer, offering a compelling product, and instilling values in your employees that will separate the great companies from those merely paying it lip service. I can't wait to see what the next year brings in the lead up to Summit 2017!
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By David 'DJ' Johnson
About the Author:

David 'DJ' Johnson is the Vice President, Account Development at Stratigent.

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