Brainstorming on Big Data

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen on a panel, “Who Owns Big Data?” at Fortune Brainstorm Tech. Image courtesy of Fortune Live Media.

Yesterday I was at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, CO.  I participated in a panel with our customer John Kosner of ESPN and MIT researcher Michael Schrage, with the theme “Who Owns Big Data?”

That is a big question, of course.  We covered a lot of ground, from what is happening now to where it needs to head next.

As Adobe has made our push into Digital Marketing over the past few years, we’ve had an incredible front-row seat to the Big Data phenomenon.  A few things stand out as I look at this landscape:

  • Big Data has to be actionable.  A lot of companies are drowning in data and frozen with “analysis paralysis.”  As an industry, we have to be smarter to harness Big Data rather than assume that processing huge volumes of information by itself is the answer.
  • Creativity and data fuel one another to build great digital experiences.  There is not a single website, ad campaign or app that is great just because of data.  But marketers can’t just rely on creativity either. They need to prove the ROI of their investments, and adjust to the signals their customers are sending.
  • Personalization is the next big hill to climb. Understanding your customers and giving them what they need (relevant information) in the way they want it (which is different depending on their device, location, etc.) is going to be essential.  The smart companies (like ESPN) are already doing this.
  • Predictive capabilities are also an exciting new area of innovation. It isn’t enough to know what happened in the past, you need to predict what will happen next and adjust your business to take advantage of it.  This is already happening in areas like advertising media planning, but the possibilities to apply this to all of marketing are immense.

In working with forward-thinking customers like ESPN, we’re helping to harness Big Data and make an impact with it. That may be changing a homepage on the fly, based on the content consumers most want to see.  Or customizing video based on the device they’re using – short clips on smartphones, longer-form content on tablets and PCs.  This is creativity + data in action, the heart of Adobe’s value proposition.

This was my first visit to this Fortune event, and it was packed full of engaging conversations.  I left Aspen energized about the great opportunities ahead for Adobe and our customers.