Adobe Summit, Day 2: Data Isn't Everything

Day two of Adobe Summit focused on going beyond the data—while numbers are undoubtedly important in decision-making processes, taking creative risks and continuously innovating are also essential elements. And an appearance by actor George Clooney only reinforced the idea of bringing creativity to the table.

"As much as our jobs are demanding more and more data, data is really just a piece of the puzzle," said John Mellor, vice president of business development and marketing at Adobe, said during the general session. "Data alone is insufficient…until we can wrap context and meaning around it. It can be sterile; it's not emotional. Our job is to transform that data…into experiences that have meaning."

Mellor noted that using data to convince organizations to make changes is a common practice. But, he went on to say, "it's not that easy—we have to take the data and turn it into stories, because stories evoke emotion, and emotion drives change."

One channel where Adobe is making a push beyond data is email. According to Kristin Naragon, director of email solutions at Adobe, many email marketers struggle to make their emails more relevant, personal, and contextual. Adobe aims to assist email marketers in breaking down the silos between channels and innovate their programs.

"For us, it all starts with data," Naragon said. "We have a really rich relational table database, [and] in that database lives individuals with PII [personally identifiable information]: my home address if I've provided it to the brand, email address, what purchases I may have made, what Web properties I visited of the brand—really any information that is linked to me that I've volunteered to the brand. Sitting right on top of that data is an application that allows the email marketer to tap into that data immediately. They're not tapping into just siloed email data.”

For Adobe, the goal is to link together its data expertise and its experience with creativity programs. "The real value of Adobe is that, because we are good with design, and because we have that experience in terms of customer experience—that's our core value because we're able to provide that in terms of the visual tooling, and to be able to give that kind of a design edge and advantage to our customers," said Lahary Ravuri, group manager of strategy and product marketing at Adobe.

The most anticipated moment of the day was the appearance by Clooney. While the actor-filmmaker certainly brought his trademark dry humor, he also discussed some interesting examples of innovation in the film industry. The reach of social media and sites such as IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes have made it so that anyone who sees a movie can be a reviewer—a kind of democratization in the industry. While Clooney said that this is "probably helpful in some instances," he noted that "it depends on the film." "Some movies aren't going to have that because they're small, so if a movie comes out in two theaters, you're actually going to need reviewers who've seen it all over the world.”

Clooney also discussed changes in television shows, particularly how television quality has risen in recent years. "For a long period of time, television had its limitations, mostly because of standards and practices," he said. “Shows like The Sopranos and things like that really changed it—and by now, if you look at the stuff that's made not just for television, [but] for Netflix, for whatever it is, the quality is so much better than the quality of most of the films you've seen."

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