If I had a pound for every time I’ve written about personalisation in the last 6-8 years, I’d be a rich woman. The problem is, too much of it has been hype rather than reality. Or all gong, no dinner, as a friend of mine used to say.
So last week’s EMEA Adobe Summit in London was exciting because it finally feels as though the missing pieces of the technology jigsaw are falling into place. Dinner is served! And it comes in the form of the Adobe Experience Platform.
One single source of truth
The Adobe Experience Platform is a data pipeline that sucks data in from all your data sources. Here it gets digested with the help of Sensei, Adobe’s answer to artificial intelligence, emerging in real time, via Experience Cloud solutions, as personalised customer experiences, across the entire customer journey, at all touch points.
Hang on a moment, I hear you say. Isn’t that what the DMP’s, CDP’s and CRM’s promised to do? You’re right, they did. But they failed to stitch it all together. The difference, according to Adobe, with the Experience Platform is that Sensei can match unknown data, pre log-in, with known data, post log-in and piece it together in a single profile. In other words, even as data, we’re more human than we’ve ever been.
So, in theory, in future, annoying pop ups advertising products that we bought yesterday, should become a thing of the past. We’ll no longer become part of a segment and remain there forever. And all of this without being pillaged for our personal data without a meaningful value exchange. Marketing really is getting properly personal but, more importantly, it’s also becoming more human.
Humanity in action
So away from technology for a moment to take a look at companies who are leading the transformation beauty parade. It was fantastic to hear from the CEO of illycaffè, Massimiliano Pogliani. He’s a CEO who truly embodies and believes in the values of the business and, as such is sponsoring a 3 year digital transformation programme from the top.
When asked about company values, he replied, “companies don’t have values, people have values”, music to my ears in a world in which corporate values are too often forced on a workforce and fertilise unconscious bias, rather than encouraging diversity. So what does illycaffè stand for? Good, goodness and beauty; three intangibles that are subjective and unquantifiable. In a world of data - how wonderful! And this manifests itself through aesthetics, the brand’s affinity with and sponsorship of the world of art, and ethics, how the brand behaves.
Another organisation extolling human values, and one of our clients, was Unilever. With 400 brands, they are transforming on a slightly different scale, to say the least. Personally, I loved hearing how their mission statement has transformed over the years from William Lever’s original promise to make ‘cleanliness more commonplace’, to today’s extremely topical mission, ‘to make sustainable living commonplace’.
People powered transformation
Unilever’s Director of Digital Platforms, Fahim Salim, told the global CPG’s platform story, in which people and process really do come first. I have to admit, this is a story that we, at Cognifide, know a bit about, but it was totally inspirational to hear it first hand. It reinforced my own belief that, as marketing becomes more and more technology-led, it’s the people at the heart of it that become increasingly important, whether they are the consumers or the experience makers within the enterprise.
He told the story of Unilever’s people first transformation, led by a reorganisation of the company’s software engineers into squads to deliver in a more agile way. Over the last 2-3 years, 50-60 engineering squads have been established across the organisation. Deliberately lean - just 8-10 developers per squad - they are non-hierarchical and totally accountable to their own set of KPIs.
HR are apparently asking how this can be scaled within the organisation. Who’d have thought a few years ago that the people, who historically were effectively compartmentalised within IT, would be envisioning organisational change on this kind of scale?
Every journey is individual
Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas, summed it up perfectly when he said that B2B marketing is really all about understanding people, the businesses they work in, the values they have and what they want. Most importantly, he said, marketing is about understanding that people don’t want to be marketed to but they do want to be engaged. And every customer journey is individual, multi-channel and non-linear.
To track these journeys, Adobe introduced their data driven operating model. Another catalyst in turning data into insight into action for the enterprise armoury. The DDOM allows the business to view what their customers are doing in real time at any stage of the customer journey. It provides an analytics dashboard that visualises these customer journeys, drives decisions and prompts every action and interaction.
It’s another enabler in the journey towards achieving individual conversations with customers at scale. Or, As Adobe EMEA President, Paul Robson puts it, “making every single customer feel as though they are your only customer”. After all, isn’t that the goal of every marketer and the desire of every customer? Personalisation is finally growing up.
If you’ve found this article useful, you might want to read more from my colleagues. Leigh Gammons, Cognifide CGO, sent his postcard from the Adobe US Summit in March and Cleve Gibbon, Cognifide CTO, applies the technologist’s lens. Enjoy!
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