Clark W. Griswold’s Christmas was in jeopardy—he needed a Christmas tree. Because, of course, Christmas is not complete without that iconic symbol that completes the magical experience of the holidays. So what did Clark do in the face of this adversity? In his own words, “I simply solved the problem. We needed a coffin… er, a tree. There are no lots open on Christmas Eve. Lewis burned down my tree so I replaced it as best I could. Voila!”
A number of people are looking at Adobe’s $1.68B acquisition of Magento this week with a similar verdict. Adobe simply solved the problem. They needed an enterprise-grade commerce platform. There were no other options available because SAP and Salesforce had acquired the other ones, so they got the best one they could. Voila!
To outsiders looking in, this transaction might appear that way. All the reasons why this is the wrong move for Magento or Adobe have been opined as well. To many of those outside the walls of Magento and Adobe, it’s easy to arrive at those foregone conclusions. But as you watched Chevy Chase cut down that tree outside of his house for the first time, you may have thought that move was ill-conceived and destined for failure, but of course, as most movies go, it ended in triumph.
As speculation runs rampant (as most acquisitions go), I’d like to step aside for a second to talk about the possibilities the Magento-Adobe acquisition unfolds, what could happen and how it benefits companies and brands that increasingly look to build stronger digital engagements with their customers as a competitive advantage.
When it comes down to it, if you sell a product to consumers or to businesses, you probably try to find ways to improve engagement with them by leveraging digital technologies on a continual basis. The engagement with your customers comes in several phases: awareness, consideration, purchase and retention. The challenges you face are often assembling the requisite and leading technologies across the customer journey to deliver a seamless and consistent experience for your customers that is better than your competitors.
Historically, creating a consistent customer experience meant piecing together a series of “point solutions” that address a specific part of the customer journey and investing heavily in technology and integrations. While you may have assembled some, most or even all of the pieces to theoretically deliver the experience you desire, most fall short. Why? It takes an army to hold these things together, and even when it happens, it’s clunky. Your customers experience that clunkiness; they experience it every day, and it degrades their perception of you.
What Adobe, SAP, Salesforce and others before them are attempting to create is a solution that allows for a tighter coupling of solutions thus enabling you to deliver a seamless, consistent experience to your customers in a more manageable way. It’s a better mousetrap. They now have the technologies to deliver experiences across the full spectrum of the customer journey, offering the market a complete solution designed to help businesses create market-leading customer experiences. Magento only solved for one part of that customer journey, and Adobe the other three—together they address all four.
The differences in their technologies, marketplaces and ecosystems has been the argument against the acquisition. However, Magento services some of the largest, most established brands and companies across the globe and has a proven track record of doing so in both B2B and B2C. That is a key point: Magento is 10 plus year- old company with a thriving ecosystem, a giant install base and supports some of the largest and most challenging enterprise clients.
For the customers these platforms serve, it means Adobe and Magento are working hard to find a way for you to deliver seamless, consistent customer experiences across the journey in a better way than you can today. To paint a very specific picture for you, when someone is on your website, do you know who they are and every interaction they’ve had with you? Do you know how to target them with the right message at the right time based on all of their interactions? Can you carry that through an individual customer’s relationship from inception through retention? These are all possible to do today, and some customers already do so to varying degrees. However, it’s difficult, really difficult and very expensive.
Success with your customers relies on your ability to deliver on the continually rising expectations of those customers to save them time and money. For instance, instead of the customer browsing a website for 10 minutes trying to find the right dress, get it to them in the first 10 seconds. Instead of asking for the same information over and over again, know who they are. Instead of reacting to the needs of your customer, proactively address them. Consumers gravitate to the path of least resistance—increasing convenience, saving them time, and making it easy are all possible when you have the right underlying technologies that work hand-in-hand to deliver it. What Adobe intends to deliver is a platform that allows you to create personalized, customer-centric experiences across channels, mediums and the entire customer journey.
Clark Griswold needed a tree, so he got one. Adobe needed an commerce platform, so it got one. As the story unfolds, Clark faces several other challenges that get in his way of finding Christmas bliss, but ultimately does so through a series of hilarious events. Adobe will also face additional challenges in the pursuit of delivering the ultimate customer experience platform and its execution of this acquisition will determine its fate.
Christmas Vacation could have had a very different outcome even with the same tree. I’m not going to speculate on how it will turn out, but I do know that it has the opportunity to become another great story.