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Garrett Ilg, Adobe's president of EMEA on the affect of tech on creativity, AI & brand in-housing

Garrett Ilg, Adobe's president for EMEA

With technology and innovation moving at a pace that is difficult for the advertising industry to keep up with, The Drum speaks to Adobe's president of EMEA, Garrett Ilg on a number of trends affecting marketers and creatives in today's world, including his take on brand in-housing, artificial intelligence and personalized solutions.

What do marketers need most from the platforms and tools they adopt?

I am continuously with marketers and big brands across Europe, and I always urge them to think about digital beyond just marketing solutions. Silos exist everywhere, but by thinking beyond just the tools and instead across the whole platform—data, content, intelligent services, and an open ecosystem will help marketers take action on data to deliver a hyper-personalised customer experience. We think of this as the ‘experience system of record’ consisting of data, a unified customer profile and content. Walking into an automotive dealership that knows exactly who you are, what you’re looking for, and can even bring up the car you’ve already started browsing or building online—so you don’t have to start over with a sales person—is just one example of an experience this system of record provides. The prospects are very exciting.

Which skillset do brand marketers most seek at present when it comes to gaining full advantage from the platforms they use?

This is a broad question and it can depend on the digital maturity of your organisation and the career stage of the marketer; however, it is imperative that marketers operate with a customer-centric mindset and invest in delivering exceptional experiences. Customers buy experiences not products, and great customer experiences are compelling and personal—this should be the marketer’s goal with every interaction. Then—with this as a basis, the skills around building personalised campaigns, managing content and assets, and really knowing your customers through data and insights—will fall into place.

Now more than ever marketers are asking to meet with each other at events and share experiences and challenges. New programs like Experience League—which encircle marketers with a community of peers and experts, guided learnings, and training materials—will help brands upskill and develop talent even faster than ever.

Finally, as a father of twin teenage girls, I'd be remiss to not mention diversity and inclusion. By reviewing and improving diversity within your organisation, you’ll innately incorporate a fresh mindset around the table. Quite simply, diverse teams lead to better decisions.

How has technology emboldened creativity?

The data pipeline that centralises all of the information rushing toward us and helps us understand the customer while respecting his or her privacy, is only half the story. Consumers want awesome, personalised experiences that appeal to their emotions, and marketers must fuel their creation of these experiences by extraordinary amounts of data. This is what excites me so much about the era of experience business—the more sophisticated and intelligent technology becomes, the better the opportunity to create delightful experiences and improve business. Technology has opened so many creative doors from responsive design for mobile/web, to video and voice, drones, VR/AR, in-store displays, smart homes and cars, etc.—what a stunning era for creatives to do business. As our CEO Shantanu Narayen has said, "No machine will be able to mimic the creative ability of the human mind."

What roles will AI play in marketing ultimately would you predict?

The incredible thing about artificial intelligence is that in a few years, nobody will be talking about it—at least not in the way we are now. AI will mature into the mere backbone of our society and not only will it make life easier, but it will simply be out of the way. The value of AI lies in the assistance it will provide to marketers. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning already do and will continue to power intelligent features across products to help marketers be more productive, create the right content faster, and deliver that content more effectively across multiple channels at the same time. Adobe is focusing its AI, machine learning and deep learning offerings within Adobe Sensei to focus on three core competencies for the future: content understanding, computational creativity, and experience intelligence—all of which help brands deliver personalised customer experiences better and faster.

What excites you most from the work Adobe is currently undertaking?

Our work to democratize creativity through easy-to-use apps like Adobe Spark is super exciting. We'll always be known for the most profound creative software for professionals, but we believe that everyone has a story to tell. We're seeing students, journalists, grandparents and even small children tell video, online and photo stories through apps like Spark, and the prospect of this continuing is energizing. Even though Adobe was born more than 35 years ago, our growth through acquisition has forced a constant start-up mentality of agility, humility, resilience, and an eye always turned to the next "big thing". This spirit and our incredible employees and customers keep me going every day.

How do you predict the trend of brand in housing will progress?

Brands in-housing their programmatic advertising is certainly a trend that is happening, but agencies also have a prime opportunity to leverage technology as a value add for their clients. New programmatic platforms are completely changing the game by helping agencies interact with and service brands in entirely new ways while also having more time to be creative and develop strategy.

What is your greatest ambition for Adobe to achieve?

Adobe's mission has always been to transform the world through digital experiences. As technology progresses digital and creativity continues to shine, experience will become the new marketing currency. Our ambition is to stay rooted in our core values of being genuine, exceptional, innovative, and involved while leading the way on becoming a better experience business (both in our products and in the way we talk to our own consumers). Adobe empowers people of all kinds to create and is now deeply transforming how companies compete. I can't wait to see where we'll go next.

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