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The dust seems to have settled on this fall’s announcement of Adobe and Microsoft’s new partnership, and conventional wisdom says a lot of work remains to be done for these software titans to realize the promise of their new relationship. That means I’ve witnessed a number of experienced observers of either company yawning, taking a wait-and-see approach to this announcement at best, and a cynical view at worst.
They’re making a mistake.
Maybe a big one.
Tuned-in CMOs are watching with interest, though. They know this whole thing is about personalization, and they know what that could mean for their businesses down the road.
The exciting news for them is that the work’s being done, and the entire digital world ought to be listening. Sleep on this partnership at your peril.
The Way Forward
If the ultimate goal of Adobe and Microsoft’s new alliance is, as these new comrades say, a shared ecosystem—an integrated platform and suite of services—providing personalized, mobile and cloud-first digital experiences, then we need to ask what that looks like for technology decision makers.
It turns out we can paint a pretty good picture just based on what’s out there today.
What do we know? Well, for starters, you can’t build a shared ecosystem without a solid foundation.
A Shared Ecosystem
In this case, that foundation is Microsoft’s Azure platform. In the short term, this means the ability for enterprises to build Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions atop the same platform as Microsoft’s own digital experience applications—Dynamics CRM for data and Power BI for visualizations in particular. In the longer run, that means tighter integration across and between the stacks.
Do Microsoft and Adobe have what it takes to do this? Let’s take a look.
Cloud? Check. Azure is a leader in cloud infrastructure and Microsoft’s biggest bet.
Mobile? Check. Adobe’s AEM Mobile provides a quick and easy approach to building and managing mobile apps (with or without AEM for your .com site).
Personalized? Check. Take the analytics and personalization capabilities already present in Adobe Target and pair them up with the data in Dynamics CRM and… well, now you see what Adobe and Microsoft are so excited about. Not just a check, but possibly a checkmate if everything breaks right.
Personalization is the Key
Personalization, then, is the part of the partnership that’s so ripe with potential for both of the software companies. If this partnership was just about AEM on Azure, it would make great sense but it would fall so far short of what it could become. Yes, every Adobe-savvy agency is hustling to contract with Azure talent, and every Microsoft systems integrator is looking to add some AEM skills… but while that might sound great to those of us who build your websites, implementation and hosting are low-hanging fruit for these guys.
Microsoft and Adobe both know that big data is king. They each have products that are ridiculously good at collecting and even analyzing different kinds of customer data—but Salesforce can conceivably do both, together, at once.
They want to own this market, not hand it to Salesforce, and they want to compete hard… and that competition is going to be the driving factor behind some powerful integrations. Those integrations will drive even more powerful and personalized digital experiences.
Hitting the Bottom Line
Personalization is accomplished when intelligence platforms like Sensei and Cortana collect and sift through reams of data about a user in order to predict or accommodate that user’s needs and next actions.
On a consumer’s side, you appreciate being served content and products that you are (or could be) interested in. On the business side—and this is the bottom line— that selfsame data that drives your personalized experience helps a business sell you more stuff.
A platform that can sell you more stuff? Most businesses will say “sign me up!” because the ROI of such a thing works really well in their favor. That’s where Adobe and Microsoft would like to be, that’s what this partnership is all about, and that’s why everyone in the digital space and especially every CMO with a digital footprint bigger than my toddler’s shoe size should care.