At the recent Adobe Summit I had the opportunity to speak with marketers and creatives, engineers and developers, CMOs and CIOs from all over the globe about the opportunity and challenges they face reimagining the digital customer experience and reinventing their organizations to deliver on it.

It was also where we announced one of the largest and most compelling versions of Adobe Experience Manager to date as part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud. While the innovations are exciting on their own, they are more meaningful in the context of what they reveal about how customer expectations are evolving and what we each need to do to be effective in building a relationship with our customers. The explosion of digital devices and channels is a double-edged sword. While it has given organizations evermore ways to reach customers, without the right skills and technology, digital can be the barrier that makes customer experiences seem disjointed and inhuman.

With the latest Experience Manager, the team has taken bold steps to make it even easier to use for marketers and developers, as well as more powerful in the types of digital experiences businesses can build across interactions from creative to content to commerce. All this while being mindful the “digital” should never overshadow the “customer” when it comes to a technology solution.

Here is what the latest release reveals about today’s customers and how your organization needs to adapt to compete.

The Mono-Channel Customer is Extinct

Whether you are driving the digital strategy for a medium- or large-sized business, you need to care about the digital experience across multiple interactions. Brand perception, loyalty and purchase decisions are made by experiences driven across web, mobile and in-person. No person exists whose relationship to a company is formed by only a single channel. It doesn’t mean you should “peanut butter” your attention and investments across all channels. But It does mean traditional boundaries drawn between web content management, mobile development platforms, video delivery capabilities, and social interactions become irrelevant in finding the best solution for driving digital experiences.

In Adobe Experience Manager, we have five distinct offerings on a single platform that are critical for marketing and IT to manage and deliver customer experiences that are truly cross-channel. Each can be adopted by organizations on their own—or when multiple parts of the offering are brought together—the new “Projects” capability enables organization around shared teams, tasks, workflows and assets. These five offerings are:

  • Sites (for web experience management) – Manage all content for web and mobile sites, as well as in-store and on-site experiences. And the latter represent some of the most innovative things we are seeing companies do with Experience Manager. For example, a resort and an airline company are using Experience Manager to power resort signage and in-flight screens, respectively, to enhance the in-person experience. Digital experiences will have an incredible impact on in-person channels as companies continue to realize digital is not the enemy, but rather a powerful way to make in-person experiences even more compelling.
  • Assets (for digital asset management and media delivery) – Host, manage and distribute rich digital assets across all marketing channels. While there are many solutions out there for storing assets, we believe that alone is not very useful. We’ve focused on capabilities that help creators and marketers do amazing things with their assets. Marketing assets are of no value unless they actually reach the intended audience and make an impact. Innovations around streamlined photo-shoot-to-site workflows with PIM integration and advanced video review and delivery are two of many examples of how we are advancing digital asset management and delivery for our customers.
  • Communities (for social communities) – Incite and manage user generated content on owned media. One of the most empowering channels for customers is social. With all the connections being made on third-party social channels today, businesses have an opportunity to deliver social on their owned sites to deepen the conversation and ultimately own the hub for community to congregate. We have not only introduced new features to this part of Experience Manager, but also taken the community mission to heart. We’ve always had an active developer community, but it has now been augmented with an online community for business and marketing practitioners, and all built with Experience Manager communities. The team launched this new online community at Adobe Summit. It was great seeing folks from UnitedHealth Group, Redbox and Lord Abbett share in-the-trenches experiences with using Experience Manager, whether it was going mobile, testing out experiences with responsive design or connecting with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to deliver a great tablet experience.
  • Forms (for forms & documents) – Build and manage customer-facing web and mobile forms as well as documents. For anyone in an industry riddled with forms and documents and wondering how you can make the experience of filling out a form or issuing a document a great one, look no further. In this latest release, there’s been some serious design thinking in terms of how we can help business users create engaging forms and the related user experience on tablets and mobile devices, all while being considerate of accessibility.
  • Apps (for mobile application development and management) – Finally the newest member of the Experience Manager family. This one received quite a bit of attention during a demo as part of the Day 1 general session at Summit (the “Audi demo” – I’m sure those who were at the event will know what I’m referring to here). Every marketer and business should care about mobile apps. Why? Because people are spending a lot of time engaging with them today. A recent Adobe Digital Index report found people on average engage 3-4x longer with a mobile app than a website. Until now, though, mobile application development platforms have worked to address half the equation by focusing solely on developers. We’ve focused on addressing the needs of both marketers and developers. As part of this equation, marketers and business users who want to update and personalize the mobile app experience can now do so with an easy-to-use interface provided in Experience Manager apps to update content, analytics and personalization options and streamline the review process.

Adobe Experience Manager Powers Reinvention

While technology is not the only piece needed for companies and individuals to reinvent themselves, it is without a doubt a powerful enabler. These latest innovations will enable the brands, marketers and technologists who have evolved with us over the years to not only create world-class websites and mobile sites, but to also reuse assets across very personalized channels. The newest offering of Experience Manager apps is an example of this—a solution for building and updating mobile apps for both marketers and developers.

I am never one to let the world define who we are or the full potential of the kinds of digital experiences we can help organizations create and deliver with Adobe Experience Manager. Similarly, as the scope of Experience Manager grows to embrace mobile apps, in-person experiences and experience-driven commerce, see it as a platform you can not only use to build your brand’s relevance in the digital age, but also to grow your own professional skills and impact and through which to continually reinvent yourself.

Here’s to creating some epic experiences in 2014! This is only the beginning.