This article is part of our October 2018 series about the state of design and creativity. Click here for more.
Design-led thinking leads to better customer experiences and builds customer loyalty, said Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, this morning at Adobe MAX—The Creativity Conference, in Los Angeles.
Narayen pointed to fitness brand Equinox, which is using creativity and collaboration to extend its experience online, and nonprofit Sea Legacy, which is committed to “turning the tide for our oceans.” He made the point that although these two entities have very different goals, their common thread is they have a story to tell and are leaning on creativity and compelling visuals to do so.
That’s why Adobe is committed to “empowering everyone to tell their story” and is trying to “nurture the creativity that lives inside all of us,” Narayen said. “The future belongs to those who can create.”
The company, he said, is on a mission to democratize creativity.
Scott Belsky, chief product manager at Adobe, came on stage to talk about the ways Adobe is improving its tools and technology to help creators more effectively tell their stories through visual elements. A number of announcements were made on stage, falling into one of three buckets: accelerating work, liberating creativity, and driving new mediums.
According to Belsky, “[Adobe believes that] being able to express yourself creatively is an essential form of literacy.”
Accelerating work, he said, is all about making Creative Cloud solutions more intelligent using Adobe Sensei, the company’s artificial intelligence framework, taking the mundane tasks out of the workflow and allowing creatives to do what they do best.
Liberating creativity is about evolving tools from just the desktop to multisurface systems.
“Creative Cloud allows [people] to create anywhere, beyond the desktop, which means that all your tools, brushes, fonts are available at your fingertips. [It also means] friction-free workflow between apps,” Belsky said.
Belsky emphasized Adobe’s commitment to drive new mediums, as well. He pointed to voice and augmented reality, stating that these formats, in particular, are destined to become important vectors of design. Estimates show that Amazon’s Echo will be in the majority of U.S. homes by 2022, he said, and there’s no questioning that AR will soon be the best way to navigate a new city.
“Designers and other creatives who don’t learn to create for these mediums will do a disservice to themselves,” Belsky said.
Phil Schiller, SVP of marketing at Apple, joined Belsky to talk about the evolution of content creation. One notable development happened in June, when Adobe announced a collaboration with Apple and Disney’s Pixar on the “usdz” AR file format, which is supported by Creative Cloud Apps and Services and enables Photoshop users to tweak and modify AR images.
According to Schiller, Adobe has long had the vision of tools needed to create content in newer formats.
“Thinking back on it, Steve [Jobs] showed us all that people with a passion can change the world,” he said.
Belsky said he believes that AR will transform the way we interact with the world. As such, he said he believes it is Adobe’s responsibility to provide a bridge to tomorrow’s mediums.
An Immersive Journey
Abhay Parasnis, CTO of Adobe, agreed. “AR is going to be the next breakthrough medium for creative storytelling,” he said. But it will mean completely rethinking the tools, workflows, and interaction models.
“[Everyone] in the creative community has heard the potential of the newer mediums,” Parasnis said. “But they need fundamentally new skillsets. You all have been given this blank canvas but no tools to paint with.”
Adobe has been working with hardware players in the AR space, as well as with brands to standardize the format. One example is shoe and apparel maker Adidas, which has completely reimagined its AR experience. Parasnis invited Simone Cesano, senior director of design operations at Adidas, to the stage.
According to Cesano, the big opportunity with AR is being able to tell the brand’s story in ways that were never possible before. Another game changer is allowing consumers to engage with brands at an unprecedented level. Lastly, Cesano said, he is excited about AR’s potential to meld physical and digital retail, which marketers have been trying to master for a long time now.
“[We are always] looking for new, exciting ways to innovate,” Cesano said. “AR creates a new digital canvas to tell unique stories in incredible depth.”