The Value of Experiences – Five Things Every Company Should Do to Succeed

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Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the Financial Times and Paul Hastings’s inaugural event on Tomorrow’s Global Business. A few of us from the financial, technology and academic sectors shared our thoughts with FT’s Richard Waters on how incumbents in the tech industry should think about growing their businesses in the wake of continuous disruption and uncertain markets.

One of the common threads in our discussion was around unlocking value in a world of a more connected and engaged consumer. Every company is one breakthrough app away from potential extinction. Brands who win find new and unique ways to deepen customer relationships and experiences.

At Adobe, our sweet spot is helping customers deliver great digital experiences that get results. It’s something we’ve been working on ourselves and was an impetus for our successful business model transformation from a shrink-wrapped business to a SaaS-based subscription model. Moving to the cloud has enabled us to deliver innovations faster, to interact more frequently with our customers and to continuously improve the customer experience using data and insights.

In my opinion, there are five things every company must do to deliver value in today’s experience economy:

  1. Self-disrupt: “Disrupt or be disrupted” is a common mantra at Adobe, and extends across our business model transformation, innovation ethos and employee engagement. It’s about looking inward as much as it is about looking outward. And it takes guts to make the change, especially when things are going well. My advice to management teams is to ask yourselves, “Are we doing everything to deliver the most compelling experience to our customers?” If the answer isn’t a resounding “yes,” chances are you need to make some changes. And tweak constantly because chances are, you’ll never get it all done the first time around.
  2. Rethink your audience… and your addressable market: In today’s connected world, you’re not just engaging individuals, you’re engaging entire communities. Think about how your products or solutions scale across traditional audiences to empower a broader group. At Adobe, we’re engaging bigger communities than ever before through Behance, Adobe Stock and our creative mobile apps. Uber has leapfrogged the taxi industry by empowering a community of drivers. Netflix has successfully re-oriented its sources of content to engage a broader community and in turn expanded its viewer base.
  3. Use insights, test and optimize: Figure out how you can create meaningful, high-value, highly relevant experiences by translating data into insights, and then test, retest and optimize the interaction. The Royal Bank of Scotland’s award-winning Superstar DJ team is a great example. That team has transformed static, one-to-one online banking interactions into a full digital dialogue which anticipates customers’ needs, and provides the data and also means to move forward quickly.
  4. Get personal: A personalized digital experience helps you to connect with your audience in a way that’s unique to them and you. According to recent research by Adobe, more than eight out of ten consumers overwhelmingly prefer to get personalized ad content compared to generic ads. From my own experience, I’d much rather stay at a hotel that knows and anticipates my preferences or finds ways to save me time through fully mobile experiences. Not many businesses are very good at personalization yet, which means that those who are ahead of the curve have the advantage.
  5. Build shared value: “Personal” has added meaning when your brand’s values can align with those of your customers. The work that comes out of Red Bull Media House, known for sports, music, and lifestyle offerings for adventure-seekers, is a great example where a company is connecting with its community and delivering and monetizing customer value. Our partnership with FEED, seen most recently in the Adobe + FEED Make It Challenge, brings together values that are important to us and to our community – creativity, design and social good.

Companies that are succeeding in today’s digital economy have uncovered a simple, yet powerful truth – that the relationship between brands and their customers is one of equals. The experience is king. It’s how you deliver value.

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Mark Garrett, Executive Vice President and CFO

Mark believes that bold decision-making and transparency are critical to transforming and growing a company. Under his guidance, Adobe has completed the fastest transition to a cloud-based subscription model among companies in the software industry. A “people’s CFO” with an MBA in organizational behavior, Mark is just as comfortable talking about numbers as he is about leading and developing teams. In 2015, the Silicon Valley Business Journal named him “Public Company CFO of the Year,” and Institutional Investor magazine ranked him No. 1 in the Best Software CFO category by sell-side analysts. Mark sits on the board of directors of Pure Storage Inc., The Adobe Foundation and The Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose.

Mark Garrett, Executive Vice President and CFO