A Thou­sand Points of Insight, Part One

By Christo­pher Parkin, Direc­tor, Gen­e­sis Solu­tions, Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Busi­ness Unit, Adobe

Part One: Lessons learned while cre­at­ing a tech­nol­ogy part­ner ecosystem

The early days of Omni­ture were about web ana­lyt­ics. The com­pany stum­bled into this busi­ness from its roots as a web­site design firm. Years before we grew into the com­pany that peo­ple know today, Omni­ture would cre­ate great web pages for clients, and the clients would say, “hey, that’s a fan­tas­tic look­ing web page…is it work­ing?”

From there, the com­pany went on to develop Site­Cat­a­lyst (now Adobe Site­Cat­a­lyst, pow­ered by Omni­ture), the gold stan­dard for web ana­lyt­ics. But over time, it became clear that cus­tomers needed help tak­ing action on that insight. They also wanted to take data from other dig­i­tal chan­nels, like email, and see it within Site­Cat­a­lyst to glean even greater insight into their busi­nesses. Cus­tomers wanted Omni­ture to become the hub of insight for their dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing initiatives.

We set out to address this cus­tomer prob­lem by cre­at­ing a tech­nol­ogy part­ner ecosys­tem as well as processes and tools for mak­ing inte­gra­tions with these part­ners as plug-and-play as pos­si­ble. This ecosys­tem and the processes and tools for inte­gra­tion are col­lec­tively called Gen­e­sis (now Adobe Gen­e­sis, pow­ered by Omni­ture). Gen­e­sis was launched in Decem­ber 2006.

An original invitation to the Genesis launch event at the SFMOMA in 2006

An orig­i­nal invi­ta­tion to the Gen­e­sis launch event at the SFMOMA in 2006

We learned a lot as we set out to build our part­ner ecosys­tem, and con­nect our tech­nol­ogy with theirs in mean­ing­ful ways for dig­i­tal mar­keters. I’d like to share a few of those lessons:

Les­son #1: Avoid the land-grab men­tal­ity.

Ini­tially, our efforts could accu­rately be described as a land grab for part­ners as a way to build com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion. That wasn’t the best approach and led to some inte­gra­tions that ulti­mately didn’t make sense for our cus­tomers. For instance, for many of our early cus­tomers track­ing call cen­ter appli­ca­tions wasn’t a big priority—and instead, the real returns came from being able to act on and inte­grate results from email mar­ket­ing, ad serv­ing, sur­veys, and rat­ings and reviews.

Les­son #2: It’s hard to be simple.

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Easy read­ing is damn hard writ­ing.” There’s def­i­nitely a par­al­lel in the world of technology.

We went a bit over­board on some of our early inte­gra­tions and built a Lam­borgh­ini – exotic and highly com­plex – when what we should have built was a Lexus – still sophis­ti­cated and lux­u­ri­ous but much more acces­si­ble and famil­iar. Sim­ply put, build­ing a highly com­plex inte­gra­tion that does all kinds of won­der­ful things doesn’t cre­ate much value if the major­ity of your cus­tomers can’t use it or don’t yet need it.

Almost imme­di­ately we also rec­og­nized the impor­tance of a sim­ple, ele­gant inter­face and the need to limit or elim­i­nate JavaScript code changes entirely on cus­tomers’ web pages. We also had to make it sig­nif­i­cantly eas­ier to con­nect data between sys­tems and campaigns—and then even faster to con­fig­ure and change the cam­paign infor­ma­tion you want to see.

Les­son #3: You are never done.

Build­ing an inte­gra­tion isn’t an end point. Really, it’s the begin­ning. As a SaaS com­pany, we con­tin­u­ally roll out updates to our prod­ucts. Our part­ners are also updat­ing their solu­tions, so it’s impor­tant that we main­tain an open, two-way dia­logue with part­ners to ensure that our inte­gra­tions con­tinue to work despite changes and updates on both sides. This real­ity isn’t always appre­ci­ated. We’ve had cus­tomers build their own inte­gra­tions between our prod­ucts and other tech­nolo­gies only to find that the level of resources needed to main­tain those inte­gra­tions exceeded their expectations.

Today, our cur­rent approach with Adobe Gen­e­sis takes these lessons to heart. We now have more than 1,300 live cus­tomer imple­men­ta­tions of Gen­e­sis inte­gra­tions across more than a dozen dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing cat­e­gories that show how inter­ac­tive mar­keters are mak­ing some of the tough­est mar­ket­ing chal­lenges look easy. By tak­ing an inte­grated approach to inter­ac­tive marketing—linking cus­tomer intel­li­gence across email cam­paigns, ad serv­ing, nat­ural search, sur­veys, CRM, and other sys­tems and initiatives—marketers are uncov­er­ing new dig­i­tal strate­gies that opti­mize their returns and cus­tomer experiences.

Even if inte­grated, inter­ac­tive mar­ket­ing is viewed as com­plex and some­times mis­un­der­stood, our solu­tion doesn’t have to be. Recently, in the For­rester Wave: Web Ana­lyt­ics Q4 2011 report, inte­gra­tion is empha­sized as a strate­gic advan­tage and is given one of the most heav­ily weighted areas of prod­uct capa­bil­ity. Our strat­egy, exe­cu­tion and cus­tomer suc­cess from Gen­e­sis earned Adobe a per­fect “5” score for inte­gra­tion. Check it out here: http://​www​.omni​ture​.com/​g​o​/​4​0​307.

Adobe get's a perfect "5" for integration in the Forrester Wave: Web Analytics Q4 2011 report

Adobe get’s a per­fect “5” for inte­gra­tion in the For­rester Wave: Web Ana­lyt­ics Q4 2011 report

Our work here is in no way done and we con­tin­u­ally strive to make it eas­ier for you. So stay tuned. With ele­gance and sim­plic­ity as our touch­stones, we are mak­ing a pow­er­ful prod­uct more acces­si­ble and intu­itive for marketers.