Adobe is best known for its Experience & Creative Cloud businesses. For over the past decade, it has become the dominant force in Customer Experience Management, the go-to technology brand for digital marketing and digital creation. What gets lost, it’s even painful to find it on the Adobe website, is another cloud altogether, the Adobe Document Cloud. It’s the least sexy of the clouds but in our analysis the most important.
There is no denying the importance of digital marketing, it has been a hot topic for a while, and it still shines and gains the limelight. But in terms of business transformation, it has its limitations. The Creative & Experience products are much harder to implement, leverage, and use than most seem to imagine. Back office transformations are not simple either, but they are relatively more manageable and are the bedrock of greater efficiencies, cost reductions, and importantly, improved customer and employee experiences. Back office transformations typically focus on document processes, and through the ubiquitous nature of the simple PDF format, Adobe is left right and center in those efforts. And therein lies the puzzle; when it comes to documents, processes, and capture, Adobe is forgotten in the conversation. Let’s be honest; how many people even knew that Adobe had a ‘Document Cloud’?
As the focus of document process management is moving from a traditional emphasis on repositories (think Documentum & FileNet) and into the world of content services, Adobe should be playing a much more significant role than it currently is. Rather than focus on the impossible task of accurately tagging and filing documents, the focus should be on improving the experience of working with documents. Undoubtedly the weakest link in most customer and employee experience journeys is the document experience as documents are the regular pivot point for the dreaded manual process handoff in many otherwise slick experiences.
The Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence platform, combined with the Adobe Scan, eSignature, PDF, and SDK’s connected with the Adobe i/O module in the Experience Platform, appears to represent an ideal toolkit to reimagine document handling. It has the potential to add value to both the experience of the user. As well as to the places that documents live, be that in Microsoft, Google, or elsewhere. Providing the potential to move even beyond content services and back to the experience of the document itself.
A year ago, we published a report on Intelligent Information Management (from ECM 1.0 to 2.0). In it, we stated that “The use of AI (artificial intelligence) and Machine Learning to provide insight into content and user activity will be the core focus of change and growth in the ECM sector”. Adobe, through its Document Cloud, seems ideally suited to grasp that opportunity; if it were to do so, this could become the most significant part of Adobe’s business. But Adobe’s fortunes aside, they are already incredibly successful, the potential for real change and improvement for customer and employee experience is just sitting there waiting for somebody to do something. Whether it be with Adobe or any other technology, we need to rapidly rethink the way we manage content, as it’s in everyone’s interest. The old ways don’t work anymore, but the daily onslaught of content is only growing more critical to manage. We need to see more innovation and throw off the chains of methods that worked in the past, but that fails to deliver anymore. Innovation will come from frustrated businesses, but it should also be coming from major technology vendors, yet as of today, there is little evidence that it is. Adobe has a real opportunity, and many of the tools to lead that charge, if only it could see beyond the glitter of the creative marketer.
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