What is Digital Transformation? with Scott Rigby from Adobe
Adobe is the global leader in digital media and marketing solutions. It was founded in 1982 by Charles Geschke and John Warnock and provides everyone from emerging artists to global brands with creative, marketing and document solutions for the best digital experience.
You can contact Scott Rigby on LinkedIn.
Simon Dell: So, Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott Rigby: Thank you, Simon.
Simon Dell: Just for everybody’s benefit out there, let’s find out first of all what the hell exactly a Head of Digital Transformation does on a day-to-day basis.
Scott Rigby: Yeah, to change the lens a little bit, I actually have an external-looking view in this business. So my role is really to talk to potential customers of Adobe as well as customers of Adobe about what transformation looks like within their business, predominately engage at the C-level executive suite to help them understand why investing in technology is important, what technology that’s potentially going to disrupt their industry is over the horizon, what’s happening from a training perspective, whether that be sort of entry level or regional level, where that transformation might happen.
So, whether it be sort of the customer side, the employee side, operational efficiency or testing out new business models. And then there’s a whole bunch of other pieces around of it. I’m kind of interested in new technologies like blockchain. I help craft some of our thinking around AI and ethics, what that means, and our input to come in around it. It’s quite a broad role.
Simon Dell: A lot to talk about there. Give us an idea about some of the customers or the clients that you would work with within your role.
Scott Rigby: If we take a couple of Australian customers, we work with a lot of big enterprise customers as well as small-medium sized businesses, so some of the more recognizable brands that we work with, Westpac as an example, Telstra, Fairfax. If I think more over in Asiapac Role. If you think about outside of this, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. We work with Singtel in Singapore as well as Chinese, Indian type brands, et cetera. We operate from a global perspective and my role covers Asia-Pacific.
Simon Dell: I suspect you do a fair bit of traveling then, don’t you?
Scott Rigby: Probably more than I care to.
Simon Dell: Digital transformation has been one of those phrases that’s been used a lot probably in the last 10 years. And I would imagine that — I’m sure you’ll get some resistance and we’ll talk about that later on, but I would imagine the bigger companies are quite aware of what they might need to do. But looking at this from an SME perspective, smaller businesses, family-run businesses, what does digital transformation actually mean to those smaller to medium-sized businesses? And can I get an example of perhaps where you might suggest those types and sizes of business could start to look at ways that they can transform to a digital-focused business?
Scott Rigby: We start with a macro view on transformation. And I kind of alluded to it already, so there’s lots of models around what transformation should look like, but let’s just talk about transformation. Digital I think is somewhat ubiquitous, it’s more transformation and business transformation. So, there’s four pillars that I tend to think about for transformation, and this applies to businesses of every size.
So, customer experience is probably the area that most businesses are focused on at the moment. The next area is around employee experience. Can you improve the way your employees engage with the business? The third area is around: How can you use technology to drive operational efficiency in your business?
And then the fourth pillar for transformation is around how you might test out new revenue models or new ways that you might go to market for your business. And if we then take more of a micro view of where small, medium, enterprise businesses could start, most businesses are focused around the customer side at the moment.
And there’s lots of technology across the spectrum that can help them improve the way that they engage with their customers. Whether they’re a B2C business or whether they’re a B2B business, there’s lots of free technology where at some point you get to a point where you then have to pay for it. Like Adobe for instance, we have Software as a Service, so technology that scales.
And obviously, the price point scales pro rata along with the amount of volume you use. Let’s take customer experience as a key focal point for most businesses at the moment. There’s kind of three areas within that we tend to talk to. One is data, and we say data is the voice of your customer.
So if you can understand the data that your customers are — and when I talk about data, they might be engaging with your website. They might be engaging for a mobile application. They might be coming into your store if you have one, and you’re collecting data in real-time about what your customers’ wants and needs are.
And so, data is the voice of the customer. And then once you understand what your customers want, you need to then respond back to them. And typically, the way you do that is with content. So, content helps guide them to the path to purchase, or application for a credit card, or a path to service. Maybe they’re looking for some type of service.
And so, you need data. You need content. And then lastly, you need a delivery engine. How do you actually deliver that to your customer in the right zone channel, on the right device, at the right time? And so, you need to look at how you might bring those three together. And like I said, there’s lots of simple, easy ways to start.
There’s lots of cheap or free technology that small medium-sized businesses can get started with in those three areas that allow you to send an email for delivery, or collect data about website interactions, or be able to host the website with content. That can start to build and improve your customer experience.
The most common way, to close this out is to look at: What is your key customer segments? What are the ones that are most profitable or draw out the most value for your business? Start to map a typical journey with your brand.
So, where might they find out about you, about your brand, your products. How they might then engage, do their research, consider it, how they might then convert. Do they buy online? Do they come in store or branch or whatever it might be? How do you then engage them post that sale activity to continue to have a lifetime value with the customer and they come back to continue engaging?
Look at where those friction points are and then look at what you can do both internally better process, better content to communicate with, and better technology to be able to scale it, and identify how you might resolve those friction points. And typically, technology now is an area that you start with, but you also need to think about the organizational skills, et cetera, you have in your business to brood it.
Simon Dell: Most people will recognize, and most people in this industry, will recognize the Adobe brand and the Adobe name. But what sort of software tools would you guys be using in that customer experience base? I mean, what do you find works best for people? And that’s a question asking about your suite of tools rather than other people.
Scott Rigby: Sure. Just a quick overview of Adobe, because Adobe’s got quite a legacy and a heritage that a lot of people recognize us for. What we call the Creative Cloud, which is, Photoshop, Illustrator those types of tools, we then have Document Cloud which is Acrobat PDF, digital signatures, et cetera.
The newer baby of our technology, although not so new, was an acquisition nine years ago, and then we slowly built that out. And now, that’s what we call our Experience Cloud. And that’s technology that allows businesses to be able to engage customers across every stage of that customer life cycle.
So whether it be advertising on their age, or news.com.au, and building your brand and product awareness all the way through to that customer then engaging with that, coming to your website or your mobile application, and how you might deliver that. And it collects the data around what they’re interested in, et cetera, through to them actually purchasing that product potentially.
So, the commerce interaction. So, payments, shopping carts, et cetera, through to them engaging them. So now that they’re a customer, how do you get them to come back and buy from you again? Whether that be through email, text message.
We have the ability to be able to deliver content to interactive kiosks, or interactive screens in stores, or bank projects like we do with Telstra with Commonwealth Bank. We also have augmented reality and virtual reality capability. So, we have a very broad range of tools that are integrated that allow you to have a seamless brand and consistent conversation with your customer across that entire life cycle.
Simon Dell: Okay. So, what about — and again, this is a bit of an unfair question to throw back to you, but what are some other tools that you see out there that you think people should be using from a software perspective?
Scott Rigby: Look, it really depends on where you’re at from a maturity perspective, and also how big your resourcing pool is, and the skills that are in your business.
Like I said, there’s lots of tools that — particularly if we’re talking to SMEs, there’s lots of tools that can help you get started, and you can build up your capability and build up your knowledge, and the intellectual capital around these tools, and how to execute them. And then you get to a point where those tools simply are not going to be integrated enough for scalable enough to meet your business needs.
So, if you think about analytics, there’s lots of free analytics products out there, Google being one of them. That is a great starting point. But at some point, it’s going to get to a threshold that doesn’t allow your business to go to the next level. And so, you need to start to look at paid tools like Adobe.
Or if you’re looking at content and you want to deliver a website or a mobile application, you might start with something as basic as a Wix site. Start with something really simple, start to understand the nuances between your concept, the same content to every audience. You need to personalize that, and you’re going to reach a threshold in respect of that technology. And at some point, you’re going to go to a paid solution for that.
You might use different types of email technologies, cheetahmail or whatever it might be, and then you’re going to get to a point where you need something that’s integrated. I think the bigger challenge here is — it’s great to use these tools, get familiar with them. The biggest challenge is, they don’t come integrated so therefore trying to deliver that consistent experiences.
Customers move from, say, one device to the next, or they move from, for instance, purchasing a product, now you want to email that same segment that just purchased a particular product or purchased in the last month, trying to replicate that segment from your commerce software across to your email software can be challenging because the integrations are simply not there.
So, that’s where you need to think about, a paid solution that’s integrated, something that you can say, “Look, there’s an interesting segment from our analytics. We want to serve them a personalized ad if they come to our website. We want to send them an email or a text message, or we might personalize and add if they happen to go to a financial review on News.com.au, whatever it might be. And you can’t do that with multiple different smaller, free, lower-end technologies.
Simon Dell: You’ve mentioned data quite a lot already. And one of the things we find when we deal with clients of all different sizes is that there just seems to be this explosion and volume of data that’s available to them. When you sit down with a customer first time, you’re in your first meeting, you’re in a brief meeting, what are the numbers that you really want to look at in terms of this?
Scott Rigby: You are right. I think in a lot of cases for most businesses, they’re dealing with probably more data than they know what to deal with. And that’s where particularly — I guess as we move entered into the paid similar of technology like Adobe as an example, we have artificial intelligence and particularly machine learning.
We’ve had that capability for a very long time, and we can help you analyze all of the different millions of data points you’re likely collecting on a daily basis from your customers and start to identify anomalies within that data, to then surface that up for you to take action.
If you look at some of the lower-end technologies, they don’t have that capability, meaning that unless you’ve got a great analytics skill set, even if you did have that, you’re still going to be deep diving into that technology to find interesting insights to then translate into actions for your business, to be able to improve your conversion rate, the size of your basket, average order value, whatever it might be, or decrease your costs, et cetera.
And so, that’s where we’re putting that capability into the hands of business and marketing users to help them find more insights and accents to take from that rather than just reporting on it. When it comes to what that I measure, that’s typically industry-dependent and then business-dependent. There are specific metrics for retail versus insurance as an example.
Retail might look at average basket size, dollar value, orders, et cetera, number of products per basket. Where someone in insurance might be looking at how many people went from quota start to quote completes and then application start to application complete. And so, they’re just using different metrics.
And then usually, you’ll also then tie to, “What are the organizational goals?” We need to align these metrics to organizational goals and be able to report how these channels are contributing to driving those numbers, or goals, whatever it might be.
Simon Dell: You must also walk into businesses and find — I think I alluded to earlier on some resistance either from the senior people within the business or lower-level people within the business. If you’re talking to someone who runs a business and is sort of — we actually have a client like this with six or seven staff and they’re very much about wanting to go on a digital transformation journey, but they’re very — not scared, they think the staff are going to push back on everything that they’re trying to get them to do. How do you tackle those kind of problems?
Scott Rigby: Part of my role is really to address some of those concerns upfront. So part of it is when I interact with C-level executives, and even with boards, you have to keep in mind that a lot of these cases, people in the business have started their careers in an analogue era.
And so, digital is still somewhat new to them although it’s been around for say 25 years. There is a bit of a fear factor even at the executive level because they don’t necessarily understand it. They don’t understand the level of urgency and disruption that’s coming to the industry. They don’t necessarily understand the technology and the impact it can have. And so, they are somewhat reserved in their own approach.
When it comes to employees as well, you also have to think about — some of the employees in the business are super excited because they’ve got the skills, there are lots employees in the business that don’t. And so, there is a fear factor that is associated with that. There’s a number of ways to deal that.
One is first talk about what’s happening from an industry perspective. Talk about the level of disruption and adoption. Once an industry typically has 20% of sales operating coming through a digital channel, effectively that industry is disrupted. And if you’re not investing in digital, you’re likely to be left behind.
And we have data that shows our customers that made early investments — and we have this from a global view across industry — that show those that made early investments year on year, and we’ve done this research for five years now, they were actually breaking away.
So, across every single metric that you might measure that industry by, the distance between those, the top 10% that make early investments versus those that made later investments or haven’t made an investment, is actually getting wider and wider year-on-year. And so, if you haven’t made that investment yet, then you’re creating a moat where you’re effectively going to be left behind.
And so, you need to make that investment. One is to break it down into very simple steps. So, what can you do first? And part of that is, “Well, what are your goals for your business?” And then let’s translate that into some simple crawl, walk, run steps for your business on how you might use that technology to drive those business goals. And really simplify it to, “Here are some tactical steps.
Here are some of the things you need in your organization.” Whether that be roles and skills you work with an agency or partner on. “Here is the technology that you need to invest in.” Maybe you might start with a lightweight technology that’s easy to deploy. And as they get more mature and more confident around it, then you might tackle the harder technologies, the ones that take longer to deploy.
Simon Dell: One of my other challenges that I see a lot of people throwing terms about is artificial intelligence, machine learning, and things like that. And you must see it as well because the difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence is that — there’s a chasm between the two of them. How do you see that affecting that sort of next generation of business in the next 10 years?
Scott Rigby: Certainly, from Adobe’s perspective, we see it as adding value. There’s a couple of areas, let me talk about it first. Machine learning, deep learning, these are all a subset of artificial intelligence.
We have been in the space for a very long time. We’ve had machine learning capability, whether it be deciding what content that you have to put in front of what customer at what time, whether that be, “People that looked at this product also looked at these products.” That’s using an algorithm to be able to work out, of the millions of products that you might, SKUs that you might have sitting in the database, which is the right three or four to put in front of that customer as up-sell, cross-sell products?”
Or it might be, “How do I best optimize my marketing spend? I have $50,000. I want to spend that to drive this goal.” Maybe it’s revenue, maybe it’s number of credit card applications, whatever it might be. How can I most effectively spend that money across all of the different channels that I have available to me to be able to achieve that goal?” We can use, again, algorithms to be able to work that out. So, we have that capability built into our technology.
We’re making more and more of that available to be able to augment the business marketer creative role within businesses, rather than oscillate, meaning displace. We’ve done research recently around future work, and the marketing creative functions are one of those that are least likely to be disrupted by AI and various other disruptive technologies.
You’re going to see more augmentation happening, meaning it creates additional capacity for you to do more of your work, hopefully removing a lot of the redundant or repetitive tasks that you do, and allow you to be able to do more of what you’re really good at.
Simon Dell: Do you think privacy issues — we talked about AI data. Do you think privacy issues are going to become more of a factor for businesses? What should they be doing in terms of setting themselves up now so that they’re well-protected down the line?
Scott Rigby: We just saw GDPR 2.0 come out of Europe. That’s the next iteration of the global data protection law. It’s not global, it’s something else, but data protection is the next iteration of that and that’s becoming more stringent.
For us at least within our technology, we build GDPR into the technology so we can help guide customers around managing data. From Adobe’s perspective, we talk about “Know me and respect me.” So, ‘know me’ means know what I’m looking for, help guide me to that path to purchase, or application, or service, or whatever it might be.
All of the data even shows that you know, post things like Cambridge Analytica, et cetera, that customers are still willing to share more information to get better personalized experiences. So, we’re still not doing a good enough job from a personalization perspective, and customers are willing to share even more information than they do today to be able to get those personalized experiences.
But at the same time, be respectful of the data that I’m giving you. Don’t sell that to third-party partners, et cetera. Use it to be able to improve my experience, not drive more revenue for your business. When I say digital revenue streams by selling that on or whatever it might be.
And even if you’re a small medium-sized business, think about the privacy and governance that you operate in your business. Who has access to that data? How is it stored? And putting a steering committee around your data and privacy together to make sure that you’re managing that in a judicious way.
Simon Dell: We’re leading up to my last questions here, but you obviously — as I said earlier on, you travel around a fair bit and you’re dealing with a lot of forward-thinking companies. Out of all the people that you’ve worked with or even perhaps the people that you haven’t worked with, who do you see doing this the best? Who’s your benchmark out there that people should be looking at to learn from?
Scott Rigby: In respect of privacy, customer experience?
Simon Dell: Absolutely everything, that digital transformation, the whole piece.
Scott Rigby: It’s funny. I asked this question of our customers all the time. I think Adobe does this pretty well. We drink our own champagne and use our own technology in the way that we operate. We’ve gone through our own transformation. We used to sell CD’s in a box you less than nine years ago, and we transitioned our own business to software as a service. We’re the first software company to do it successfully.
There have been lots of other companies that are tried but hadn’t been successful at it. Our executive team made a big bet there by transforming the business. We had to teach Wall Street around new metrics to measure businesses that were software as a service what we call ARR which is annual reoccurring revenue. That was a big change for our own business, and we used our own technology now even to personalize the experience for our own customers. We use it internally to drive our own employee experience.
What I might see on our intranet is specialized for my role and my function within this business, versus some of my colleagues would see something entirely different. And so, we’re using that to be able to engage, retain, understand turnover of our employees, et cetera. And so, we’re trying to be at the forefront of that.
That also applies to things like data and privacy, is to be able to make sure that we’re as close to a leader in this area as we can be so that we can help then educate our customers at the same time. I love what ANZ bank is doing and how they are changing their entire business to be customer-centric. And so, they’ve gone with this Agile approach.
And when I’m talking about Agile, they’ve broken their functional silos of marketing, technology, legal, creative, et cetera, and they’ve taken people from each of those areas and put them into teams focused on a particular customer segment and become very customer-centric, focused.
And I don’t think it’s come without pain, but I think breaking down those functional silos and testing out new models of how you operate the business is really interesting. I think that’s the forward-thinking disruptive that you need to be in this kind of climate. They’re doing a great job.
We’ve done some work with Telstra recently and they’re just thinking about how they use contents and how they might use that content across different ways that they engage with not just their customers. They’ve got screens in every level of their buildings in Australia, and the Philippines, and India, how you use that content to talk to your own employees and make them aware that campaigns are coming to market, et cetera.
And so, they are trying to be quite disruptive. It’s easy for us to look at businesses that are digitally-born, whether they’d be the Ubers, and the Airbnbs, et cetera. But I don’t think that’s as challenging. I mean, you don’t have to change a hundred or three hundred year-old legacy.
Bank of Scotland is a 300-year-old bank and it has the Queen as its customer. And they actually managed to get their board on board, excuse the pun, to understand their own transformation. Their board actually logs into Adobe tools to understand, on a quarterly basis, how our technology works, how it drives personalization for their customers. And that’s then adopted widely across their business. They’ve managed to transform that by having their leaders walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Simon Dell: All this technology that you are faced with every day, we’ve spoke about AI, machine learning. We’ve talked about blockchain. There’s robotics. There’s Internet of Things. If someone gave you $10,000 and asked you to bet on one of these as probably the cornerstone of digital transformation in the next 10 years, what would you bet on?
Scott Rigby: I’m going to take the really risky bet. That’s probably just part of my nature, but my money is actually on quantum computing. I think AI is great.
Let’s assume that you and I are using Google Maps and we’re both going to the same location, but you’re driving a car and I’m riding a bicycle. And you’ve got AI to work out which are the best route. And maybe you’re using Google Maps. I’m using Apple Maps. Similar technologies, I would say Google’s probably better from an algorithm perspective. Let’s assume that there is a 10% better efficiency from a time perspective for your route verse mine. The difference is if I had quantum computing, I’m driving a Formula One.
It doesn’t matter that I’m riding a bicycle, I’m still going to get there way quicker than you are. I think if we do get to quantum computing and we’re seeing more and more improvements in results, and even it has been taken commercial, like if you look at some of the cloud computing, whether it be Azure, whether it be Google, whether it be IBM, they started making some of that quantum computing capability available as a service. I think that’s going to be a game changer for all of us because that’s putting AI on steroids.
So, AI is really interesting, but I think AI with quantum computing is going to be an entire landscape change for all of us. And I think we’re getting there. I think 10 years, I might be a little ambitious, but if I had to put my money, I’m going to put it there and hope for that to happen in the next 10 years.
Simon Dell: It’s going to kill us all, Scott. That’s all I have to say about artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
Scott Rigby: If I get a phone call from Security then I will know it is you.
Simon Dell: I read up on quantum computers about six months ago and I probably had a good couple of hours where I just tried to get my head around the basics and I still have absolutely no understanding how a quantum computer worked. But what I did get out of it was that there were suggestions that a suitably single quantum computer could be more powerful than every computer bundled together on the planet that’s currently in existence, which is kind of scary.
Scott Rigby: Yeah, and I think the interesting thing too is that China is the one that’s making all of the investment. Roughly about 63% of quantum computing investment is in China. It’d be interesting to see if they do become the leaders in quantum computing what that means for the rest of the world.
Simon Dell: My last question to you for today is: Where do you get your information from? If somebody wants to learn about digital, what do you read? What websites do you go to? What emails do you subscribe to?
Scott Rigby: That’s a really good question. Part of my job is — it’s not easy and I’ll be frank about that. I get tested by executives across the spectrum of transformation and across what’s happening in my industry, or what’s happening with my competitors, or what’s happening in my region, what’s happening in different areas.
Like I said, I talk about the future of work and what that means for organizational change, skill set change, what that can mean for AI ethics. What does it mean for how we use technology to drive better employees? There’s a wide breadth of topics that I’m somewhat expected to be knowledgeable on.
Frankly speaking, I use multiple news sources and I probably spend almost an hour a day trying to keep track of what’s happening globally. And mostly, I use summarization tools like Flipboard where I’ve chosen a bunch of topics that I’m interested in, and that kind of collates the news articles that I then consume to be able to stay up to date.
We also have access to technology called Gold Mine, which is where you get all of the Forrester, Gardner, e-consultancy reports, and I try and stay on top of that. I actually use a lot of flights to be able to read through those. I throw them all into an email folder and then I — when I don’t have any internet connectivity on a long flight, I’ll then try and consume them to start up the day.
But a lot of the news aggregation apps I think is probably the answer to that. I just choose a lot of topics that I think are relevant to my role to be able to start the day.
Simon Dell: Any one person or something that you would…?
Scott Rigby: I’m a big fan of Scott Galloway. I was listening to his podcast this morning with Kara Swisher and I just like the way he thinks. He’s also bit of an agitator too. He’s one that I tend to keep track of. Tom Goodwin, etc, I think they are kind of rising, macro in respect of where things are coming and what’s happening. But yeah, there’s a host of people that I tend to follow.
Simon Dell: Yeah, I’m a big fan of Tom Goodwin. I’ve been trying to get him on the show for about six months, and we keep missing each other in dates and times backwards and forwards. I also then saw him have an argument with Gary Vaynerchuk on Twitter the other day, which was absolutely hilarious. Two people on completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of how they think about business just going at each other. It was very amusing.
Scott Rigby: He’s quite humorous. I think that also keeps us entertained.
Simon Dell: Yeah. The thing with Tom Goodwin is he kind of sees things that are really in plain sight. Some of the points he makes about digital transformation, about people emailing you for opinions, businesses emailing you for opinions, that you can’t just simply click the reply button to.
It’s little things like that you go, “Yeah, actually, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’re allowed to email you and ask you for an opinion, but you can’t actually reply and give your opinion. You have to go through this convoluted ‘fill in this form’.” That’s another conversation entirely.
My last question for you then is: If somebody wants to get a hold of you, if they’re interested in you or Adobe coming to their business regarding digital transformation, what’s the best way getting a hold of you?
Scott Rigby: LinkedIn is probably the best way. I’m on Twitter and most social channels, but probably, the one that I use the most and that’s also just for messaging is LinkedIn. It’s Rigby Scott at LinkedIn. I’m pretty easy to find on there. I’m pretty active on there. There’s a bit of commentary, and posting, and writing blogs, et cetera.
Simon Dell: Brilliant, mate. Thank you very much for your insights about digital transformation. It was absolutely fantastic to have you on the show. Adobe was one of my bugbear companies over the years because I came from back 10 years ago when we were using CDs to upload. And when you’re running a small agency, all of a sudden you have to buy another license. It absolutely kills you. It used to cripple you. So, you’d find keys and you’d steal the software.
Scott Rigby: Oh, you’re one of those.
Simon Dell: Mate, 10 years ago, everybody did it.
Scott Rigby: I know.
Simon Dell: Do you know what I mean? And then Adobe the cloud computing came out and all of a sudden it was $60 a month. It just became so much more of a viable product for so many more businesses.
Scott Rigby: We release updates now daily. As we have a new feature, we can just deploy it straight away without waiting every two or three years to do it.
Simon Dell: It’s amazing the times now I’ve seen where Adobe software is actually being used internally in businesses, where 10 years ago it just wouldn’t because it was just way too expensive to buy the software and people didn’t want to spend that capital investment. They’re still using QuarkXPress and shit like that.
Scott Rigby: That is going back. But I actually did industrial design and it was my first degree. I was using PageMaker and Quark.
Simon Dell: My dab was in design and layouts. I learned on Quark. That was one of the first things I was exposed to, was QuarkXPress. Anyway, thank you very much for being on the show, mate.
Scott Rigby: Thanks Simon, that was great.
Simon Dell: It’s been an absolute pleasure. I really appreciate your time.
Scott Rigby: Thanks, Simon.