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Machine Learning and Hot Tips - Trends from Adobe Summit


‘I love it when a plan comes together’ – John “Hannibal” Smith, January 23rd 1983

Its one of the most iconic TV catchphrases from the eighties, but I bet your wondering why I have started my blog post with it?

I’ve always wondered with event planning for something like the Adobe Summit, how they put together the streams, break outs and keynotes. Is it one planner for each stream? Is it one uber-planner that Adobe don’t let out of a room for the 6 months prior to the event until it’s all finished? Is it somewhere between the two? Do they even have a coherent plan across the whole event?

With an event this size, there is no way that anyone can attend everything. There are so many streams, it must be difficult to get a coherent message out across everything that is happening across the 2 days.  The topics include:

  • each product and part of the Experience Cloud
  • how to get the most out of them
  • how Adobe's partners can add value

With this in mind, and that Station10’s experience of the Summit is limited to the sessions that we can attend, I wanted to see what some of the friends, clients and people that we like in the industry took from all the sessions that they attended, to see what the trends and themes from the event were. Some names have been changed to ‘protect the innocent’ as it were, but here is what they said.

All you need in life is a good Sensei

“ Immersive tech & AI is a growth area of real interest & excitement, and there was some real inspiration from Technicolor & AECOM in their recent applications of the technology. Interesting to see from Day One keynote that Adobe have already started to offer services in this area” - B, Global Head of Analytics

The summit this year showed how the work that Adobe has done around their AI platform, Adobe Sensei, and their improvements within Analytics Workspace are leading to a world where data analysts and data scientists can move away from having to answer the simple question, and focus on getting deeper insight into the business. The Keynote demonstration of asking questions of the virtual analyst via text message showed something that will make many analytics managers and lead analysts sleep better at least once every week as the key dashboards and reports are circulated, as that first round of questions will no longer land on their desks directly afterwards.

Interestingly, with all of this development that has happened, and the keynote and ‘floor time’ given to it, there are still some areas that need to be ironed out:

“Machine learning is coming of age for the everyday analyst. But have those selling it in done enough to demonstrate the tangible value of it, or just focused on the fact that it sounds sexy?”  - R, Head of Customer Insight

“There is a big push from Adobe for customers to adopt Workspace. This was evident from the number of breakout sessions given over to this area of the Analytics product. There has certainly been a great deal of improvement over the last 12 months, but Adobe might be suffering a little from their agile implementation method. It’s perfectly acceptable to improve the product gradually, but it’s possibly lead to a communication gap, and Adobe need to work on getting users to be much more bought in to each of the updates.”  - R, Head of Analytics

The customers (and partners) bring more value to the proceedings

"The customer elements of the keynote, as always, were the real highlight with HostelWorld, T-Mobile, and BMW offering useful context to the advantages that can be gained from re-platforming into a modern and agile implementation.  Keeping the customer in focus is certainly nothing new, but these examples offered useful reminders on what we all should be doing." - R, Head of Analytics

 “Some of the presentations by Tech partners of Adobe really showcased the value that not only the tools can provide, but the real value that can be driven to the customer from the Adobe Analytics stack” - E, Analytics Manager

With larger keynotes, more streams and more breakouts, there was a real opportunity for Adobe to put the customer successes front and centre, which they did to great effect. The keynote examples and break out sessions showed clearly what everyone should be aiming for, and the opportunity that exists to grow in the field.

It's as much your structure as it is the tools

“Recurring references across all breakouts regarding the need to challenge & abstract internal business silos to ensure customer is at the heart of digital engagement. This has been a well trodden path at conferences over the past few years; however, it was noticeable that all organisations represented at the breakout sessions focus on this being a core enabler of their success.” - B, Global Head of Analytics

As with the Experience Cloud as a whole, data should be used to underpin the performance of all elements of business performance. For this to work effectively, the data needs to be available to and contain the data from all elements of business. It was interesting to me personally that they had the entire Marketing Operations stream, with break outs on subjects such as ‘Organisational structures for marketing and digital’ and ‘How to kick-start your global digital transformation’. Sessions like these were as or more valuable than some of the more ‘tech heavy’ themes in the other streams.

There is a ‘white elephant’ in the room

Those four letters that strike fear into many.


It is coming, and things will be different when it does. But not a lot was said or outlined about it within the sessions themselves.

There’s nervousness around GDPR. People know what it is, but not everyone knows what it means. Legal teams are still interpreting how best to apply it and technology firms are trying to be first with the easy answers.” - R, Head of Customer Insight

“I believe that Adobe have more to announce at the end of the year, which will partly be related to forced initiatives to prepare for GDPR” - R, Head of Analytics

Segmentation, Attribution and Insight still the key

“Moving away from simple designs & interactions, businesses now require a laser-like focus on delivering compelling experiences for the customer to increase & maintain relevance and thus longer term engagement (as brilliantly demonstrated by during Day Two keynote). To support this, deeper segmentation & understanding of customer is more becoming more & more important (as demonstrated by Adidas).” - B, Global Head of Analytics

“Within Analytics, Virtual Report Suites seem to be a powerful feature that not many are taking advantage of. A good example is to create a SEO virtual report suite, where the production report suite has been filtered to only natural search traffic. This allows the SEO team to greatly increase the ease of which they can adopt and work with Adobe Analytics and Workspace, without the need to apply segments each time. “ - R, Head of Analytics

“Adobe was talking up their DMP, but on the floor there was a lot of discussion about whether DMPs were a short-term fix. Whatever happens, attribution is back at the top of the agenda.” - R, Head of Customer Insight

These are 3 slightly disparate quotes, but all point to what (on the presentations at the keynote at least) were the main theme of the whole conference. Experience is the thing, to understand it and develop it you need your data to work for you as an organisation, and the Adobe Clouds more than allow you to do that.