With less than 10 minutes of oxygen, the Adobe Sales Machine took one last look at the heavens before plunging towards the curvature of the Earth Baumgartner-style. The audience was surprisingly calm during flat-spin moments like the windy soliloquy from Deloitte, sporting a ‘Felix’ haircut and inspiring most of us to take up BASE jumping without a parachute.
When Felix (yes…the Felix) appeared on stage the over-30 crowd silently begged him to shout “You ah a girlie mahn! I whant to pump YOU up!!” at the other sissies twittering about their make-up time. Robbed of hypnotic LED waves and glowing podiums, Adobe Summit 2013 had no choice but to jump down-to-earth towards hard, rocky content. And for those of us watching from ground zero, it was an awesome spectacle.
Adobe Summit 2013 hit its stride when it simply gave in to moments of rock star content. The flat-spin focused into a supersonic free-fall that pushed hard against barriers acoustic, industrial and institutional. Salman Khan, founder of The Kahn Academy, earned every ounce of standing ovation by connecting Summit to a larger social cause.
Carrie Brownstein, sharing an internal monologue about her personal dilemma relating to the social internet, graced Summit with an artistic spark. In contrast to the poor nerd begging for applause after recreating the WIPRO sunflower (something to do with sentiment analysis), Carrie pulled off poetry on a screen the size of house.
And yes, The Black Keys literally broke sound barriers at Adobe Summit 2013 with a performance that was nothing short of stunning. With 5000 conference attendees this year, some of the edges thinned (food was underwhelming) but nothing brings analytical nerds together like a mind-blowing performance from a grammy winning rock band.
Oh right, about those Digital Marketing sessions…
I attended the Adobe UnSummit again this year a day before The Main Event. We spent the afternoon in a sunlit venue at the top of The Leonardo Museum downtown. Industry practitioners from leading organizations presented their latest achievements and challenges, while a few consultants hung out on the sidelines. Afterwards, the general consensus was that Adobe would be hard pressed to deliver richer content for only $57.
At the Adobe Summit I attended sessions on Mobile Optimization, Personalization, and the Creative Process. I had received a few insider tips to help me select the sessions, and in a totally informal, non-scientific poll afterwards the results were not surprising. When Adobe ran the show, attendees spent more time checking Facebook and sneaking out for snacks. When a live human client was given the stage to tell a story, Q&A ran into overtime.
I was swept into the uber-analyst crowd later one evening…people who slide into a posh bar after 11pm, order soft drinks, and talk eVars and props until it becomes even more weird to continue the conversation at the local Denny’s over a 1am skillet breakfast.
The uber-analyst crowd was excited. There was plenty of geek twitter over Sneaks such as AutoMagical-SAINT-watcha-ma-call-it, and the inferno of something called BoomData (BOOM!) feeding a dark, black Marketing Cloud. Hey, they may be a bit slow to implement stuff but you have to give Adobe credit for knowing its customers’ hot buttons.
I returned to Boston a few days later, unpacked and bumped into a small box adorned with the trademark Adobe Summit neon-digital wave pattern. Inside was a TUMI smartphone charger in a neat leather case. It’s a high-quality, useful sort of thing.
Adobe Summit took a stratospheric leap of faith in 2013, landing on solid ground by ultimately delivering a high-quality, useful sort of experience.