Companies that design for brilliance, rewire their organisation for intelligence and re-architect their infrastructure to energise operations will be best placed to deal with the challenges of the evolving experience-driven marketplace, says Adobe Chairman and CEO Shantanu Narayen.

They will also make more money, says Brad Rencher, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Digital Marketing business unit. Rencher’s claims are backed by upcoming research that would quantify the impact of an experience-driven approach to the bottom line, he said.

“Experience business leaders not only have superior business performance over experience laggards — including 36 per cent higher revenue growth, greater increases in customer lifetime value and higher brand awareness — but interestingly they also have happier employees,” according to Rencher.

The research was conducted by Forrester and is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Both were speaking to more than 13,000 delegates during the opening keynote session at Adobe Summit, which is running in Las Vegas this week.

The Adobe chief spoke first, noting, “It used to be that products were the basis of differentiation, but not anymore. The fundamental challenge facing every business today is that people buy experiences, not products.”

He told the audience, made up of marketers, digital and technology professionals, that companies must deliver great experiences in this increasingly competitive world as they are competing for the hearts and minds of all their customers. “You need to exceed every expectation customers have at every point in the customer journey.”

Narayen suggested that businesses need to start thinking of themselves as operating under a subscription business model. 

“Consumers can choose to renew, cancel or grow at every instance and with every click.”

The challenge for businesses today is to transform themselves in a way that allows them to know everything they can about the customer, and anticipate the future of a customer’s behaviour across every device and every channel.

“Every organisation needs to get up and break through the noise. They need to speak to the customer in a unique, genuine voice and to leave a lasting impression.” 

Narayen said there were three ways to do this.

Three pathways to an experience led business

First, he said, the new mindset was to “design for brilliance”.

According to Narayen, “Design is not just the way the product looks, it’s about the engagement you have with your customers. Great experiences start with great design.”

It’s a natural pitch fo Adobe to make, given its long heritage in the creative sector with its popular Creative Cloud.

“It’s the spark of creativity combined with a clear purpose that brings great experiences to life, and creativity and design have always been at the heart of Adobe.”

Next up, he said companies need to equip their organisations for intelligence. That starts with having the data required to understand every person’s context at every moment in real time and then to have the ability to respond in milliseconds, instead of hours or days.

This kind of organisational intelligence speeds up the learning process, helps identify anomalies and customer pain points, and should then help managers to make the right decision quickly.

“That’s when the real magic happens,” he said. “Content intelligence is just as key when it comes to generating the massive amount of content required for personalisation at scale. A deep understanding of content and how it’s composed and delivered is absolutely critical.”

Finally, he suggested that company infrastructure needs to be rearchitected with great experiences in mind.

“Enterprise IT systems like ERP and CRM were not designed for modern world. They were designed for a different world.”

Narayen acknowledged that the shift to cloud in recent years was a major source of disruption. But he also suggested that cloud has fallen short of delivering what enterprises require.

The Adobe chief cautioned that a new architecture is required to deliver great experiences across every channel, and it is time to move beyond what he described as “digital duct tape”.

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