Learnings from Adobe Summit 2012

This year, I was fortunate enough to not only get to attend Adobe Summit, but to get an “inside peak” as one of the Summit Insiders. Summit is always a good show (truly, “show” is a very accurate description) and this year was no exception. After heading home and reflecting, I wanted to share some of what I took away from the great breakouts, keynotes and panels.


Similarly to what we saw at eMetrics, there was a lot of focus on the evolution of digital, technology, marketing, analytics, social media and more. After all, there were 4,000 people in attendance, and titles in the room that didn’t exist five years ago. However, companies aren’t always evolving quickly enough – often we have departments and disciplines from fifty years ago that aren’t even relevant today.

While marketers and analysts are trying to keep up, data keeps getting bigger, but the details are getting smaller. Marketers are being judged by consumers 24-7 on how they are doing. (And when something goes wrong, it goes wrong fast and publicly.) The data we have has such great potential, but at the same time, great risk.

We all have a “digital self” and are sharing more and more on social networks. However, privacy is an ever-present concern, and striking the perfect balance between personalisation and respect for privacy is not easy. As Nancy Koons said: “Technology is most powerful when it does not intrude.” (Of course, easier said than done.) There’s a new generation out there demanding truly personalised experiences, for who their digital self is inextricably tied to their “real” self, but it continues to be a challenge for companies and users to find the right balance between “helpful sharing” and “harmful sharing.”

Brave New World

One of the best sessions (IMHO) was Arianna Huffington‘s keynote. The co-founder of the  Huffington Post spoke about the evolution of online maturity: we spent years in the “internet age of adolescence” – we stayed up too late and consumed too much junk. Now, we are moving from merely searching for information to searching for meaning. The things that we value in real life are becoming what we value online.

However, Huffington cautions. We live in a hyperconnected world, but need to acknowledge our own humanity and vulnerability, and disconnect. Just as it is tough to balance personalisation with privacy, it is becoming difficult for individuals to balance their connectedness with their need to recharge. Huffington spoke out against the traditional male view that you had to drive yourself into the ground (and wear your lack of sleep as if it were a badge of honour) to be successful. Proof? The Huffington Post has nap rooms!

Take risks

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, put it best: “To succeed spectacularly, you need to be willing to fail spectacularly.” In fact, Stone admittedly he himself is a fan (strange as that may sound) of mistakes, because, “what you do after you screw up defines who you are.”

Presentation matters

Analysts often get bogged down in the numbers, the data, the math or the implementation. While the details are necessary, it doesn’t mean executives want to hear about it. Biz Stone’s advice for building a business and a social network is just as applicable to analysts: How you present content is as important as the content itself. And despite a wealth of tools for digital marketers to have access to a vast array of data, even Brad Rencher from Adobe agreed – awesome data with poor presentation is far worse than mediocre data that is well used. In the end, it’s not about the data, but how you use it.

Quote of the day 

“It’s just not the same without Emer.” – Ben Gaines (TRUTH!)

“Knowing the tools will not ensure your success, but not knowing the tools will ensure you fail.” – Adam Greco

But don’t just listen to me!

As a “Summit Insider” I got to bug people, with the help of a video crew! Check out some of the conversations and insights from Summit attendees:


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