Adobe Summit 2017: Quantum Mechanics and The Godfather of Soul

Adobe is a master of marketing, and there is no better example than Summit. For those who have attended Summit, think back to your first one - what was the most memorable part? I doubt it was a session on the future of Data Management Platforms (DMPs), or a keynote featuring an announcement that Test & Target was going to become Target. Here are my memories from my first Summit conference back in 2011:

Crowds, great food, skiing (it was held in Salt Lake City back then), Lenny Kravitz, scoring the owner's suite at the Grand America hotel somehow, awesome video camera gift (played with to destruction by my delighted 1 year old), cool people doing cool things with Adobe, great times with friends and clients.


Regardless of whether you are attending Summit as a customer, expert or partner, you would probably cite an experience similar to mine. Working with a wide variety of customers and our own internal experts at Stratigent, I’m able to get a lot of experience from all aspects of the conference. And, with the benefit of all of those experiences since 2011, I know that my memories example still works.


Enough About Memories


The question now becomes, what do all of these experiences have in common? They are not focused on technical skills, labs, PowerPoint presentations or vendor booths (even though that is 90% of the content at Summit). Rather, Summit allows Adobe to wrap an experience around the content, something that you associate with Adobe, the brand. Look at my initial list of memories from 2011 and notice that almost every item shares the same emotions and feelings: fun, exciting, impressive, powerful, awe-inspiring, magical.

This isn't an indictment against Adobe, far from it. If they are successful in getting you to associate the emotions I typed above with Adobe the brand, that’s incredibly persuasive marketing. Every one of Adobe's customers at Summit would kill (figuratively speaking, of course) to have just one or two of those adjectives embedded in the minds of their customers when they thought about their own brand. Simply put, it's a masterclass in marketing and always amazing to behold (for people like me that are into marketing at least).

In addition, it would be almost impossible for Adobe to guide you through the exact right way to do things. Getting down to the practical and nitty gritty requires that they learn about your challenges, weigh them against your available time and talent, focus them through a view of your industry, best practices and unique business objectives. The most common conversations I had were "this is all really cool stuff, but I still don't see the clear path to making it all work together for us", and now you know why the memories and experiences are so important.


Let’s Get Scientific


As another way to view this, let’s take classical and quantum mechanics (I know, I know, stay with me here though) - there are two main views for online marketing, Classical Level and Quantum Level. They differ widely, but still describe and explain the same thing.

  1. On the classical level, aka Summit, order, performance and clean data flows rule the day. Things are familiar, predictable, elegant and simple. This isn't just a theory, in the minds of your customers, your website lives in this world. Visitors (hopefully) experience your digital channel as a seamless window into your brand and services.
  2. On the quantum level, aka the world of actual implementation that we deal in, the rules are different. The reality is one of incorporating leading edge software from multiple vendors to legacy and new systems in order to meet existing and emerging business requirements.


Just like your hard work at the quantum level reflects in the classical world of your site, the vision presented at Summit reflects the hard work of engineers and marketers operating across Adobe. The vision of the Adobe Cloud is no less real than the quantum view of real world use. And the two views feed off each other. The people actually using the solution drive innovation, push boundaries and provide feedback to Adobe. That feedback then drives their acquisitions and engineering efforts, these in turn drive the vision, that then inspires the attendees of Summit to push on further in the real world.


Take Launch as an example, the new version of Dynamic Tag Manager. At Summit, Adobe presented their vision of allowing marketers to effortlessly deploy new tags within Experience Cloud, even from third parties, all with shared data, in a few easy clicks. This has long been the promise of tag management, pulling tag deployment out of the cycle of site builds and updates and giving control to marketing. Things like one click deployments and open app stores were formerly the exclusive features of expensive commercial products. However, with solutions like Launch and Google Tag Manager, everyone can access this power. There has never been a better time to be using a brace of different solutions, each with their own tags hungry for data.


Are We Still Talking About Quantum Mechanics?

In the hands-on lab, I glimpsed the hard, quantum-level work that is going into making this vision a reality. The engineering team has been working hard to incorporate feedback and requests from DTM users and, judging by the enthusiastic response of the lab attendees, I'd say that they succeeded. Don’t get me wrong, there really are a lot of popular changes coming! As with the rest of the quantum world though, we'll still be helping customers sort out the details of each implementation and answering questions such as: 

  • How the migration of previous customizations will work
  • What is the proper way to manage an implementation across different user types and sites
  • What is the best way to take advantage of the Extensions APIs and when you may need to go around them, etc. 


You get my point.


One more note: as an early proponent of agnostic data layers, separate from the front-end design of the site or mobile app, it thrilled me to hear the concept enthusiastically endorsed by Adobe. As they put it, regardless of the set of solutions you are using, any work done at that level is never a wasted investment. The data layer is the bedrock upon which all your marketing efforts can rest. In their use of that data, Adobe Launch and Google GTM have distanced themselves from commercial products similar to Tealium and Ensighten. Launch and GTM will use the data definitions about which tags to deploy with what data. The actual intelligence of how each visitor experience is managed will be spread across the functionality of the products making up their respective clouds, up to and including artificial intelligence. In contrast, the commercial solutions are rapidly moving towards becoming the 1st party data driven platforms by which you can control experiences across a variety of marketing solutions (with increasing pressure from DMPs getting into the visitor data activation space, as I talked about previously).


Summit Wrap-up


Summit’s main mission is to inspire, but the work we do here at Stratigent is to accomplish. It's often not as glamorous or thrilling, but it's far more rewarding and no less real than my 2017 experiences. Experiences that included but were not limited to: giant robots, 3D body scans, Peyton Manning, Seoul Sausage, watching OneRepublic while dodging outdoor furniture and, last but certainly not least, singing a duet with James Brown. Where else can one experience all this other than Summit in Las Vegas?


Speaking of our expert, Adobe Certified team, they are currently collaborating on an Adobe Guide that walks you through real-time web analytics using Adobe’s newest features, Live Stream. Live Stream allows you to know what’s happening with your digital properties each and every second so that you can take action using real time insights. To request your free copy, please click here.


Need any other help with your Adobe tools? Reach out to our expert team at





Image Credit: Julia Robinson/

By David 'DJ' Johnson
About the Author:

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

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