What's New in Adobe's Data Management Offerings?

Last week, Adobe made a few announcements related to Data Management and adjacent technologies and marketplaces. Coming amid the vendor's annual summit featuring the usual spate of sports-and-entertainment dignitaries, it's always a challenge to figure out what's substance from what's splash, but I'll try.

The two key announcements were related to:

  1. Adobe Experience Platform, its CDP offering
  2. Open Data Initiative (ODI), a collaboration among Adobe, Microsoft and SAP

Before getting into the details, let's review a quick summary of some confusing offerings and names:

  • Adobe Experience Platform: This is what Adobe announced last week. A CDP offering (more about it below).
  • Adobe Experience Manager: This is Adobe’s long standing CMS + DAM + Other Stuff suite
  • Adobe Experience Cloud: This is an overarching package that consists of several Adobe offerings including the above two, plus vendor's wide and somewhat confusing array of advertising, marketing, commerce, and analytics services.

So What’s New?

Let’s first discuss the Adobe Experience Platform.

AEP architecture
Figure source: Adobe

Adobe Experience Platform is not a new offering. Last year the vendor announced a CDP-like environment called “Adobe Cloud Platform,” which is now getting updated and rebranded. RSG already covers Adobe Cloud Platform in our CDP vendor evaluations.

Adobe has clarified its viewpoint on this technology, though. CDPs commonly get characterized by their ability to work with first-party data, as opposed to Data Management Platforms (DMPs), that work with third-party data. In Adobe's world, Adobe Experience Platform will combine with  Audience Manager, its DMP, to provide a CDP platform.

But setting aside this difference, the product provides capabilities for:

  • Profile stitching using data from Adobe and non-Adobe systems, called “Experience Cloud Profiles"
  • Segmentation and advanced data management
  • Data governance (e.g., for GDPR compliance)
  • Integration with marketing systems, for activation

The 2019 edition offers several native capabilities that previously required significant manual effort in 2018 version, including new out-of-the-box algorithms for several predictive analytics use-cases and new capabilities based on Adobe Sensei, the vendor's AI/ML platform.

Regarding the Open Data Initiative, details still remain rather sparse. Adobe, Microsoft, and SAP announced ODI last year. I was skeptical at the time, but some limited progress has been made.

This year, Adobe introduced Unilever as first mutual customer who will experiment with ODI. They also opened ODI to additional partners, and announced about 16 new partners, several of who are services firms such as Accenture, Capgemini, EY, Cognizant and WPP.

As a practical matter, all this data from different platforms is ingested into Adobe Experience Platform and gets stored as part of what Adobe calls Experience Data Models (XDMs). An XDM is essentially an Adobe schema to represent experience data that you can access via JSON. The idea of bringing all data into a single format is helpful and ensures all different Adobe products can understand it. XDM is also used by ODI as the basis of common data model for interoperability. So that's a good thing.

What does this mean for enterprise customers?

First of all, remember that the CDP marketplace is young and evolving. So regardless of definitions or terms used to categorize these products, you should carefully evaluate and understand your requirements, ideally via business use-case scenarios. If you are already invested in different Adobe offerings, such as their marketing cloud or other adjacent offerings, then it is likely that Adobe will be able to provide you different data management capabilities across its one or more products.

If however, you have a more heterogeneous stack consisting of non-Adobe products, or you would like to enjoy a cleaner separation of concerns more generally, you would do well to consider an independent CDP for your customer data management layer. RSG's RealQuadrant decision-support platform can help you begin to explore your options.

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