Adobe Summit Wrap-up
06/05/2013 | Written by | Categories: Conference Review

I recently attended the London Adobe Summit as a Roving Reporter, exchanging tweets & blog posts for a free ticket.  My previous blog post covered the content from the breakout sessions I attended, this one will go through all the keynotes and other aspects of the conference.

Day 1 Opening Keynotes

First up, we had Brad Rencher, the Adobe General Manager of Digital Marketing opening the Summit.  From early on, I was reminding myself that the Adobe Summit is now a Digital Marketing conference, not Digital Analytics.  So the target audience is marketers with analytics being one of the tools they can use.

Brad introduced the concept of the last millisecond, the tiny period of time when everything has to connect perfectly to achieve success.  People want the same things they always have but due to evolving expectations, they want it now.  This means the time you have available to deliver has been greatly reduced.  The Adobe view of this process (apologies as ever for not writing things down word for word) is:

  • Listen to signal from consumers
  • Predict expectations (based on behaviour)
  • Build the response
  • Deliver this response (in the last millisecond)

Based on this model and those expectations of immediate response, real time data is critical.  I didn’t totally buy into this though.  The resources required to deliver a response based on real time data are very large.  I agree that it is possible and will deliver a positive impact but it feels like more a top of the tree actions.  There are likely many more low hanging fruit which will deliver more value for the resources invested.

Coincidently, Avinash has “Real-time data is life changing” as the first of 8 data myths that marketing people believe in but can actually end up getting them fired.

Product Demo

Adobe has consolidated their many products into five pillars, greatly simplifying their product offering.  We moved into a very slick product demo illustrating all five tools using a common example.  And it was very impressive, seamlessly moving from department to department and from data to solution.  Even had a couple of big brands saying how powerful it was for them.

The core of it does appear to be a project management tool (the Adobe Marketing Cloud) – this is not a negative.  It was a displayed as a tool that eliminated silos and enabled rapid transmission of ideas.  But while a slick product demo, it was light on the details (which an analyst can’t cope without).

A key question was if a company has four of the five products, can this process still work?  For example, if they use a different CMS (e.g. BT Fresca), can they still easily push elements live on the website through this UI?  And all their predictive tools, just how accurate are they?  How can you claim to predict the behaviour of a new campaign, that is just not possible.  Slick demo but I was sceptical.

Most importantly, how was their web analyst satisfied with the quality & detail of the analysis work they did – I would have sent them away to do a proper job…

Adobe Analytics

During the demo, the new Adobe Analytics was introduced and I found this exciting.  Rather than offering SiteCatalyst with lots of extras, Adobe has simplified (finally).  There are two packages, standard and premium, the price is still based on the number of measurements generated.

With standard, you get

  • SiteCatalyst
  • DataWarehouse
  • Discover – unlimited licences
  • ReportBuilder – unlimited licences
  • Genesis – unlimited connections
  • SiteCatalyst Tag Manager

Finally, Discover, the true Analyst’s tool is included as standard.  And ReportBuilder is the default Excel plugin.  It means EVERY company with SiteCatalyst will have good tools available which have the potential to be more powerful than Google Analytics (depending on set-up and ability of users).

Adobe Analytics is available on all new contracts.  I would recommend anyone using SiteCatalyst to immediately negotiate to upgrade their existing contract (unless they already have all the additional tools/features).  Note that Insights is the difference between the Standard and Premium package and fair enough that you pay extra for it as this tool is not necessary for most companies.

Day 1 Closing Keynotes

Remembering again that talks which are targeted to inspire marketers don’t do a lot for analysts, I didn’t take all that many notes in the afternoon keynotes.  Some points I did note down although not sure if it was points by the speakers or what I thought of as a result of what they were saying:

  • Deloitte Digital says companies need to have a strategy (to be fair to them, they are a very young department and have not been around as long as L3 Analytics)
  • The world is changing rapidly and this brings a whole new set of challenges for everyone (the old ones are still there as well)
  • It has never been easier to turn ideas into reality
  • The best organisations take away people’s pain points
  • Successful organisations have a purpose greater than themselves
  • The most powerful force is imagination, technology is just a tool

Summit Party

A brief word on the Adobe Summit party.  Jessie J was incredibly impressive.  Given the audience doesn’t quite match up with her normal demographic, she gave a classy performance with a big smile the whole way through.  I didn’t stay too long after she finished but am sure the party continued till late as it always does.

Day 2 Opening Keynotes

I started late on the second day as needed to complete some client work first, so only caught the last two speakers.  The first speaker was reporting back on the BBC’s online coverage of the Olympics.  Reporting was the operative word, the key learnings for the BBC appeared to be to show stuff live and help viewers feel they are there.

The second speaker was Felix Baumgartner, the man who skydived from space.  He was the only non digital speaker and easily my favourite.  It was simple stuff, he wasn’t trying to inspire us, just tell his story.  One line has stuck with me though.

Felix was describing how he was the youngest in the team working on the project, working with some very senior & experienced people, who started out seeing him as just an adrenaline junkie.  He had to “earn the respect I deserved”.  There was no doubt in his mind at all that he deserved this respect, just that it took a while for everyone else to recognise this fact.

Again, this was not said to send any sort of message about believing in yourself or to inspire the listeners.  Felix was just answering a question.

Summit Sneaks

The final session was all about sneak previews of features Adobe may be releasing in the future.  I didn’t take notes through this session as was in shock from my experiences on stage with Nina Conti.  I do remember a couple of features seemed pretty familiar from Google Analytics though…

One feature, which I believe was described as “BoomData”, seemed like it could be pretty useful.  If I remember right, it allowed you to drag and drop any data from SiteCatalyst into Excel and more impressively, to somehow drag data from Excel into SiteCatalyst.  By bringing the data into SiteCatalyst, you could quickly compare against a range of different SiteCatalyst data sets without having to export them one by one.


The most useful aspect of Adobe Summit for me was not the content or even the party, it was catching up with other members of the Digital Analytics community.  So thank you to all the people who had a chat with me, I really enjoyed it.  My biggest regret from the two days is that I didn’t manage to make time to talk properly with Evan LaPointe or even to say hello to Rudi Shumpert.

Final Words

So that is Adobe Summit over with for another year.  I am not sure how to summarise – no question at all that is an incredibly slick and polished event which is extremely well run.  I just need to remind myself that it is a Digital Marketing event which means I am not the target market.

It is worth attending if you want to be inspired or to see what is possible with Adobe products.  But, based on the last couple of years, it is not somewhere you can learn ideas for using Adobe Analytics – which is what I want from the event.  Hopefully Adobe will work on this for next year.

3 responses to “Adobe Summit Wrap-up”

  1. Great wrap up Peter! I was bummed that we did not get a chance to meet either. Maybe next year ?

    • Peter O'Neill says:

      Thanks. Definitely next year although think at least one of you guys should be trying to plan a trip to Europe around the time of the next MeasureCamp – then you will have a fun conference…

  2. Just need to get MeasureCamp to be right before summit so I can hit both with one trip 🙂

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