Digital transformation journeys will accelerate during the global COVID-19 pandemic, moving from delivering personalised experiences to providing essential services says Shantanu Narayen the Chairman and CEO of Adobe.

“While many organisations have taken steps towards becoming a digital business, the environment we face in 2020 is only accelerating the need and urgency,” Narayen said during a keynote speech delivered from his home office in California, where a shelter-in-place order applies to the entire US state. 

Narayen began by acknowledging the society-wide impact COVID-19 is having around the globe. For its part, Adobe has stopped all travel and in-person events, including the Adobe Summit which was scheduled to take place today in Las Vegas, and all staff are working from home. 

“We’re clearly living in unprecedented times. COVID-19 is changing everything about life and work as we know it. The human aspect is just tragic and my thoughts are with everyone who is impacted,” Narayen said. 

The goal of digital, to solve problems with the use of technology, hasn’t changed but is growing in importance, Narayen said. 

“That’s truer than ever, whether you’re replacing an in-person conference with a digital event or working to engage your customers virtually. The theme is the same. Digital is revolutionising how we interact with each other.” 

In 2020, however, the stakes are higher. 

“A couple of months ago we talked about customer experience in terms of delivering delightful personalised and relevant interactions in real time. Now, it’s about supporting critical needs in an exclusive digital world.” 

Narayen used the example of ecommerce replacing store sales, remote working and education tools as well as the heightened importance of communication channels. 

“Governments and businesses alike are reaching customers and employees with critical information across email, mobile and web, so we can stay on top of this fast-changing environment.”  

For its customers, Adobe has doubled down on the 24/7 availability of cloud services to make sure there is no interruption to services. 

“Now more than ever we must come together as a community to share best practices given digitally engaging with customers is paramount,” Narayen said.

“While we’re facing difficult times now. I’m encouraged by the tremendous dedication and innovation of our employees and our customers. I’m optimistic that if we work together now. We all emerge from the situation stronger than ever.”  

Adobe Digital Economic Index

Measuring the Digital Economy 

The digital-only reality caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate growth in parts of the digital economy. To measure the changes, Adobe introduced the Digital Economic Index which analyses trillions of online transactions across 100 million product SKUs in 18 product categories.

“Digital isn’t only changing and reshaping our daily lives. It’s driving the economy. As we look around at this new digital economy,” Narayen said.

Adobe partnered with economists and government operations to develop the platform, which it hopes will “provide a more complete picture of inflation and consumer trends.” 

The new product builds on Adobe’s holiday shopping report, which predicts and measures retail spending in the US over the Thanksgiving and Christmas period based on the transaction data across Adobe’s products. 

Already the Index has picked up shopping trends driven by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Overall, we’re seeing digital deflation as falling prices of electronics computers and apparel drive up purchasing power online. As you might expect in the past few weeks, overall, commerce sales are up 25 per cent in the US and 33 per cent in the UK and categories like daily online grocery sales increased 100 per cent week-over-week in March.” 

As social distancing began in February in the US there was a 62 per cent increase in people opting to buy online and pick up in stores in the first few weeks of March. Fitness equipment sales were up 55 per cent in early March, according to the Index. 

While the Index only provides US data, Adobe says the buying patterns of Australian shoppers are similar.

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