Adobe recently held its Best of Adobe Summit 2024 in Sydney, highlighting the significant opportunity for businesses to leverage AI to deliver personalisation at scale to not only increase revenue and margins, but also customer retention.

Adobe is investing in content, data and journeys with seamless integrations and in-built governance to help businesses build strong foundations to best leverage AI and get the most out of their technology investments.

During the Summit, Retailbiz spoke to Adobe global head of industry strategy – travel, hospitality, dining and loyalty, Julie Hoffmann, who is responsible for investigating consumer trends across generations and demographics, as well as broader studies such as organisational agility with a focus on helping brands mature their operations in the age of AI.

“When I think about AI, it’s not a capability. It’s going to completely transform organisations in terms of what they do and how they do it,” she said.

“The challenge is that there isn’t a single person in an organisation who won’t be impacted by AI. When a brand transforms using AI, everyone will be working slightly differently, which creates a bit of fear because we invariably don’t like change.

“Brands need to get the right help and support – both early and often. I see brands try to do things on their own without the appropriate resources or training but with AI, it’s important to follow the right path to fully leverage its benefits.

“Adobe has a range of free resources that can help brands understand their maturity and where they have gaps. We often see brands create a new workflow based on previous processes, leveraging AI with workflow and automation, and then need to re-architect it because they didn’t have external guidance to envision a new way of working.”

AI shouldn’t be looked at in terms of text and imagery but its impact on the entire workflow, which is why everything must be consistent and cohesive when operating with AI, according to Hoffmann.

“When teams are working together and something changes or a person leaves the business, you lose the institutional knowledge of what has occurred with respect to projects or campaigns, and gaps are created,” she said.

“Humans interpret and perceive things differently, but AI is driven on consistency to function correctly. The system and the essence have to be there so AI can provide velocity when teams work together, but also cohesion so that AI can function and find what it needs to do and support the entire organisation through intelligent tools.”

Adobe is focused on how it can help organisations with the discovery journey and understanding what AI means for them, particularly through one-on-one sessions that explore how a business operates, what boundaries need to be put in place and what AI can do to create greater velocity.

“Our research shows that in less than 18 months, 42% of a marketer’s role will be augmented and we provide support through GenAI, as copilot for the teams. The benefit of this is that a non-design professional can provide creative support, which is where you need resources to reskill and move people around the organisation. The other benefit is that these individuals become invigorated because they’re no longer doing laborious work; instead, they are focused on strategy,” Hoffmann said.

“We not only show organisations how AI can help offload work, but how it creates velocity during the production process and allows employees to focus more on the who, what, and where of use cases.”

Adobe global head of industry strategy – travel, hospitality, dining and loyalty, Julie Hoffmann.

From a personal perspective, Hoffmann believes we spend too much time working to get information, when we should be spending more time to connect with one another.

“When I think about AI and the content supply chain, it does three things – it offloads work for the employee, allows them to work on strategy and the net benefit is the customer because you’re bringing them something meaningful and it makes navigating the world much simpler.

“When I look at our tools, I don’t think of it just in terms of the experiences for the end consumer or B2B customers, but also the value that it brings to the employee so that they can have a better life. With staff shortages, teams are working even harder. If we don’t have AI, we won’t be able to operate as an ecosystem around the world because there won’t be enough people to do the work in the next 10 or 15 years.

“People are concerned about the impact of AI on their work, but I’m concerned that if we don’t have AI, there’ll be gaps and service levels will continue to decline. Who will fill the gap if you don’t have AI?

“Every single brand is a beginner in this moment, and AI is going to be one of the largest transformations in our history, and it will continue to advance. But it’s important to not only focus on the risk but look at it in terms of the reward. AI can provide the conduit to reduce friction and give us time back to connect and focus on the things that matter.”

Beyond AI, Adobe is focused on the areas and elements that help provide hyper personalised customer journeys.

“Firstly, it’s critical to have an operational profile for customers – which is very different to just having a profile. It means the data for an individual – particularly loyalty data – is available and accessible on the edge so it can be actioned in real-time,” Hoffmann said.

“Secondly, now you’ve got the data, you need to put it to work. The content has to make good on the data. It’s important to use the right tools to scale up content production in a meaningful way. I like to think of content as no different than a physical product on the shelf. You need to understand the content driving the right messages and connecting with customers. What are the elements and the attributes of each content piece? This allows you to uncover the trends and discover the type of content that’s working.

“Thirdly, optimising the journey. We’ve been talking about omnichannel for a long time. From our loyalty research, we learned that the customer wants the physical and the digital to connect, and there is no tolerance for that not happening today. There is an expectation that every single brand should meet that benchmark and personalisation doesn’t land when it’s disconnected from reality. For example, serving up a discount online on a product that the customer just purchased in-store, or asking if the customer wants more car tyres after they’ve just replaced all four tyres.

“Having an operational profile, making good on the data with content, being mindful that content is no different than a product on the shelf and optimising the journey in a congruent way, must all come together to deliver a hyper personalised experience.”