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.omniture.com/go/40307.

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.