Empowering customer creativity: Q&A with Adobe EVP and CMO Ann Lewnes

Q&A with Adobe Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Ann Lewnes

What gives you the conviction and confidence to brave markets and make bold bets for the future?

In technology, you innovate or die. Adobe has been creating and leading new markets since its inception 35 years ago through visionary leadership, world-class products, and seamless execution. Whether it was sparking the desktop publishing revolution, becoming the industry role model for how to successfully pivot to a subscription-based business, or establishing the digital experience category as a fundamental driver of business transformation today, clear foresight, bold decision-making, and a relentless focus on innovation and execution are core to the fabric of Adobe. These values have driven our past and will continue to drive our future.

How is your business and industry transforming? What are some of the major changes and trends you are anticipating?

The digital revolution is driving two massive tailwinds for Adobe’s business: the imperative for creative expression and the mandate for every company to become an experience-driven business. Everyone in the world has a creative spark, a story to tell; and the means to tell those stories through new mediums, formats, and devices are increasingly vast. With that comes an explosion of content and data that creates new opportunities for businesses to connect with customers in novel, impactful ways; and increasingly, customers expect that. As the company that’s always stood for digital experiences, Adobe is at the center of these prolific shifts–providing everyone from individual artists to global brands–everything they need to design and deliver amazing digital experiences.

Looking ahead, the digital experience opportunity is still largely untapped. Innovations in things like voice, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence are not simply trends, they will fundamentally transform how all of us interact with the world around us, representing huge opportunities for consumers and brands alike. And no other company is in the position to steward this future like Adobe.

Brand marketing has shifted from the right product, place, and time to a continual dialogue that puts the customer in charge. How are advances in AI, data, and Experience Design enabling brand experiences at scale for your brand?

For Adobe, digital experience is our business and we have a bold mission to enable every company on the planet to become experience-driven businesses through the right technology, talent, and processes. Every great experience starts with impeccable design–and no brand understands that better than us. But design is just the first step; to compete successfully in the experience era, marketers must bring together design, content, and data to drive personalized, differentiated experiences at every turn. Advances in AI, immersive media, and experience design only amplify the possibilities, allowing us to create more freely and efficiently to deliver more meaningful, impactful experiences at scale. That said, we still see incredible engagement at our live events, indicating that while digital experiences enable a wealth of new opportunities, there will always be something special about connecting in-person to get inspired and learn together.

What is it that you would like to stand for in the minds of your existing and potential customers? How have you brought your organization along with you on this mission?

We want to be THE one-stop destination for everyone—from individual artists all the way to global brands—to create and deliver amazing digital experiences. Our hope is that Adobe’s brand stands not only for world-class products, but also for community, partnership, and social good that inspire our customers to create great work, share it with the world, and make an impact. We could not realize this mission without our 18,000 employees worldwide, who we’ve brought along on our journey through constant communication, an industry-leading corporate culture that enables employees to bring their best, authentic selves to work every day, and immersive programs such as product trainings and hackathons that allow employees to go deep in our business and get a front-seat view of the customer experience. We always say that our best assets go home every night—a reflection of a commitment that has been core to Adobe’s DNA since our founding and one that will continue to fuel our future.

What’s your advice to someone starting out today? What skills should they nurture with regards to how they should think about business, brands, and their own career paths?

Regardless of job function, communication is the number one skill that everyone needs to be successful in any career–whether it’s through writing, pitching ideas, or displaying those ideas in a compelling, visual way. Take risks; you will grow the most when you’re out of your comfort zone. Work well with others; as you grow in any career, you will increasingly work through others to get things done, and that means people need to like working with you and for you, believing in your vision to help make it a reality. Advocate for yourself; you own your career, and nobody is going to look out for you like you can. Above all, focus on results; nothing can stand in the way of demonstrable impact and that will always be your biggest asset in the long-run.