Adobe unifies its digital businesses on a single cloud platform

Adobe opened its Digital Marketing Summit in Las Vegas this week with a big splash, announcing a new “Experience Cloud,” which brings all of its digital cloud businesses together onto a single platform.

While there is an element of pure marketing at play here, it also makes sense for Adobe to pull its various digital clouds — Creative, Document, Marketing, Analytics and the new Advertising — into a single enterprise view. (Individuals have access to just the Creative and Document clouds.)

Melissa Webster, an analyst at IDC, says the new strategy coordinates a lot of existing pieces, while providing a mechanism for incorporating acquisitions from the last few years into a more unified system.

“Perhaps the most important part of bringing acquired products together from multiple acquisitions is the refactoring required for them to leverage common data, content, analytics, and other services. That’s what the Adobe Experience Cloud platform is all about. The more integration that can be addressed via replatforming atop common services, the more agile the result (the more innovative the vendor can be),” Webster told TechCrunch.

Photo: Adobe

While the Analytics Cloud has been responsible for collecting and processing data for the various clouds, Adobe is also using its in-house artificial intelligence technology, Sensei, to help facilitate data sharing across the new platform.

According to Suresh Vittal, VP for product marketing and strategies at Adobe, Sensei uses various forms of artificial intelligence including machine learning and deep learning to build models and distribute the data generated by these models across the platform where it’s needed. The idea is to embed these findings into different applications, whether built by Adobe or third-party partners.

Webster indicated that Sensei could be a key piece for the new platform. “Sensei is a portfolio of analytical services using machine learning/AI, some of which work on data, some on content. These are services that leverage Adobe core technologies in Creative Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Document Cloud,” she explained.

The Advertising Cloud is new, having been built from a combination of Adobe Media Optimizer, a tool the company has offered for a number of years along with TubeMogul, a company Adobe purchased at the end of last year. The idea is to provide a highly sophisticated, data-driven way to buy just the right ads for just the right audience at just the right time.

With so much data about individual buyers being collected and analyzed across a broad platform with the goal of selling highly targeted ads (and marketing goods and services), can Adobe protect the privacy of the individuals whose data they are collecting?

Keith Eadie, VP of revenue and partnerships at Adobe Advertising, who came on board as part of the TubeMogul acquisition, says that the company is aware of those concerns and says there is plenty of opportunity for Adobe customers to use non-identifiable data to achieve their advertising and marketing objectives.

“From an ad perspective we do not enable anyone to use personally identifiable data on our platform,” he said.

This all sounds great as far as it goes, but the new platform could generate additional complexity for customers simply as a by-product of trying to make all the pieces work together in a coherent way. Of course, as a set of cloud services that’s primarily Adobe’s problem to solve, but it’s not to say that customers won’t feel some of the pain.

Nevertheless, Webster sees the approach as more than just a marketing ploy. “Adobe has more to do, certainly, but if we look at its track record with Creative Cloud integration, for example, it’s clearly a strategic effort and not just marketing speak,” she said.